International police development professionals are regularly asked to prepare basic strategic plans for new programs that are being considered for approval and support by their sponsoring organizations. In many cases, the requests come with very short deadlines – with the requesting authority primarily looking for an overview of the potential program and some of the broad planning considerations that would need to be addressed before approval.
This article briefly discusses the key components of a basic strategic plan for a potential international police development program. It is not intended to be a detailed description of a strategic planning process as this would require a much more in-depth discussion of monograph or book length.
A BASIC FIVE-STEP STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS FOR INTERNATIONAL POLICE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS
STEP 1: Determine the Program Goals and Limitations
The first step in the process is to determine the primary goals of the prospective program. Without clearly identifying what the program is intended to accomplish it will be difficult to effectively create the basic strategic plan. In addition to articulating and defining the prospective program’s goals it is also worthwhile to define any limitations or program constraints. This latter exercise adds to goal clarification and can minimize misunderstandings during the program approval process and later during implementation.
STEP 2: Identify the Program Stakeholders
The next step in the process should be the identification of the stakeholders involved or impacted by the program. This is an important crucial step because these are the individuals and entities that will form either the supporters or obstacles for the potential new program. Among the common list of stakeholders for international police programs are:
– The sponsoring international agency (e.g., international development organization, foreign embassy, foreign police agency)
– Local and foreign non-governmental organizations (e.g., NGOs that are providing assistance in Rule of Law and Governance projects)
– The local ministries involved (e.g., Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Foreign Relations, Ministry of the Interior, National Prosecutor’s Ministry)
– The local police agencies involved (e.g., National Police, National Criminal Investigative Police, Federal Prosecutor Investigation Police, State Police, Municipal Police)
– Local community groups or organizations that could be impacted by the new program (e.g., local community anti-crime organizations, local business associations, local human rights groups)
– Local police associations or unions if applicable
– Local media (e.g., electronic and print)
– Local politicians and political parties (this could also include local religious groups or organizations)
– Other stakeholders (e.g., foreign military or aid organizations)
After developing the list of stakeholders an analysis of each should be prepared that briefly documents the primary mission or expected involvement of each stakeholder, whether they would probably be a supporter or obstacle to the new program and why, and any other useful information. This is an important task and should not be overlooked as it can surface potential problems early in the planning process and allow for more informed decisions on whether a program should be approved or not.
STEP 3: Conduct a Quick SWOT Analysis and Force Field Analysis
The SWOT Analysis examines the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the potential program. Strengths and weaknesses are generally found within the program and implementing agency while opportunities and threats are found outside the program or implementing agency. Common strengths are a professionally trained police force, professional leadership, high integrity within the force, etc. Possible weaknesses could be a poorly trained and equipped police force, high levels of illiteracy within the force, poor salary and benefits, and high levels of corruption. Opportunities could be such things as the future procurement, distribution and effective utilization of new technologies to fight crime, development of new processes that could improve police delivery of services, or the dramatic increase in police aviation capabilities in isolated rural areas. Threats are those things that could occur that could seriously damage the successful implementation of the program. Some common threats are the discovery of serious and widespread cases of corruption or other malfeasance among the police (especially among its leadership) or a violent incident involving the police and the misuse of deadly force.
The Force Field Analysis is another component in this step that briefly identifies those driving forces of the potential program (e.g., the President of a Country, a particular Minister or Police Chief, a foreign aid program; the media; an international organization) and those possible forces that could be obstacles to the program (e.g., opposition political parties or special interest groups, widespread corruption within government agencies, rank and file police opposition; police unions).
The completion of a basic SWOT Analysis and Force Field Analysis allows the strategic planners to quickly identify the key elements that can support the development and implementation of an effective plan and those that could be obstacles. This allows planners the opportunity to maximize the strengths of the plan and, most importantly, address and minimize weaknesses and threats.
STEP 4: Identify Critical Success Factors and Critical Assumptions
Critical Success Factors (CSFs) are those tasks or issues that must be successfully achieved or addressed before a program can hope for success. Identifying these important factors is critical to the successful planning effort. Examples of two CSFs in an international police development planning effort could be: (1) the willingness on the part of the host police agency to eliminate widespread corruption and implement an effective integrity and internal affairs program; and (2) the ability to effectively screen police candidates for criminal and terrorist backgrounds prior to employment.
Critical Assumptions are those essential assumptions that the program planners and sponsoring stakeholders make before consideration of a new program. Examples of two critical assumptions could be: (1) that the local government officials would welcome the creation and staffing of an anti-drug police base in there locality; and (2) that current local police agency leadership that supports the program will remain unchanged and supportive during the programs initial planning and implementation phases.
STEP 5: Develop Basic Preliminary Action Plans of Major Tasks and Costs
The final step in the process is the development of the basic action plans. For our purposes a basic action plan consists of a detailed description of the major tasks needed to implement the program. A typical basic action plan would generally consist of the following:’
– A list of the major tasks needed to implement the program. Each major task would include a detailed description of the task.
– A list of the individuals or organizational entities responsible for completing each task.
– A timeline for the completion of each major task, to include intermediate milestones for longer tasks.
– A preliminary cost estimate for completion of each task.
The level of detail for each of the items listed above would depend on the desire of the requesting authority and the level of resources made available for the planning effort (e.g., size of planning team, available funding, time allocated).
This article briefly discussed the key components of a five-step basic strategic planning process for international police development programs. It was not intended to be a detailed description of a strategic planning process but to be a useful starting point for international police development practitioners asked to quickly develop a basic strategic plan for a potential new program. Hopefully, it will assist those tasked with the preparation of these plans with a useful basic outline for their preparation.