Plans tend to be between 50-100 pages. They usually include significant information and analysis; thus, communities often develop executive summaries and other complementary communication materials based on the plan. These complementary materials ensure that the information effectively reaches a broad audience.
While every plan is distinct, the sections remain more or less consistent. Below, we provide you with a sample outline of a fictional plan.
Table 24: Sample Plan Overview
Remember, drafting the plan is not a linear process. You may find yourself having to return to the research or consultation phases to fill in gaps or re-examine your assumptions.
Often, the lead writer(s) of the plan hold(s) the reins on pulling the various sources of information, collected throughout the process, into a coherent direction. However, the plan writer does not wholly determine the suggested course of action. It is their role to work with the broader planning group to affirm the direction taken and even go back to community stakeholders for further input.
If you consider the key elements of the plan at the same time as building your research and consultation processes, you will be able to develop the content of your plan as you go through the development process, rather than waiting until the end. For instance, it is best to gain input on the vision for the initiative from a broad stakeholder group rather than having the plan writer come up with it on their own, then try to shop it out in the final editing stages.
Carefully consider who will write the plan. Is it the project manager? The steering committee members? The consultant? Or a combination thereof? You will likely have a number of authors that contribute to the plan content, but it is wise to have a lead writer accountable for pulling it all together in a timely fashion, ensuring there is a common thread tying various content pieces. The ideal plan writer is an effective communicator and able to distil complex concepts into concise communications.
The plan is largely a technical report. Therefore, it is important that your writer has the skills to develop the content based on the quantitative and qualitative data available. It is always a ‘bonus’ to have someone who can actually take on the financial and performance modelling. If this is not feasible, you can consider bringing in outside technical assistance. Nonetheless, the lead plan writer must be sufficiently proficient in these areas in order to develop a cohesive, sensible narrative.
To develop broader communication materials, look to individuals with communications and marketing backgrounds to assist you. They can turn the content of the plan into brochures, websites, at-a-glance documents and infographics. Develop these marketing materials as part of the launch of the final report, once the plan is complete.