Situation

The executive management team at a port authority was tasked by its port commission with identifying the value that was being placed on its long-term strategic plan. The strategic plan incorporates the long range business plan for the Port itself, but also for the surrounding metropolitan area in terms of enhancing the business growth, primarily in terms of job growth. Their task basically had to answer the question of: How much are we spending on these initiatives relative to the total operating budgets?

Solution

While initially the Port’s management team viewed this as a “zero-based budgeting” exercise, once NextLevel’s advisors reviewed the situation and met with the executive team and others, it became apparent that the nature of this exercise had more to do with strategic planning and the direction that the Port was following in order to achieve its long-term strategic plan. Through numerous meetings, reviews and research, NextLevel’s team came up with a creative solution to incorporate not only the “zero-based budgeting” aspect of the initial assignment, but incorporated a basic programing and process solution that validated the Port’s strategies and objectives (along with key performance indicators and other activity based initiatives). This approach, unique in validating strategies and objectives, was implemented in less than three months and serves as a key tool in aligning the Port’s long range plan and resources. The project was thus named “Strategic Positioning for Growth” which reflected the long-term goals of utilizing this methodology in future operational and capital investment to assure alignment.

Results

The results of this project were:

  • Identifying the value of the resources at each department’s activity level related to the long-term strategic plan
  • Identifying gaps in the strategies where dollars were being spent with no alignment to strategies, and conversely where no dollars were being spent against plan initiatives
  • Increasing the communication of the strategic plan and other long-range plans throughout the organization
  • Providing a common communication and management tool and vocabulary for which to communicate to all levels of the Port
  • Providing to the port commission a precise figure of the value being spent directly and indirectly on the organization’s strategies, and as the Port is a public agency, provide transparency to the community
  • Providing a robust, easy to use tool and process to continue to evaluate future spending
  • Benchmark future years to assure investment in the “right” activities to assure success of the strategic and other long-range plans

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