Developing a Strategic Plan for Your FQHC that Doesn't Sit on a Shelf

Before joining FQHC Germane, each of our team members had participated in the development of strategic plans for their respective employers. Although we had some positive experiences related to this process, many of our experiences were not so great. The common thread of these negative experiences was the development of an unrealistic strategic plan that did nothing but “sit on a shelf.” 

Because of our firm’s result-oriented business model, we recognize the importance of offering strategic planning services to develop a realistic plan that's flexible enough to respond to a dynamic and changing marketplace. Rather than re-creating the wheel, we utilize David La Piana’s Real-Time Strategic Planning model as the basis of these services.  

Drawbacks of the Traditional Model:

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and other organizations have long used a strategic planning model that does not clearly distinguish amongst the three levels of strategy. Often, it focuses on the lower two levels of strategy (programmatic and operational) while putting little emphasis on the most important level – organizational strategy.  Although the traditional method of strategic planning can have many benefits to the FQHC, it also has several drawbacks. These drawbacks, which can be overcome through La Piana’s model, include:

  • The length of time it takes an organization to develop a strategic plan. This is often six to twelve months, which drains resources and focus from the organization’s current situation and work, and often means that the plan is out of date before it is completed.
  • The periodic nature of traditional strategic planning. Typically, it is conducted every two to three, or even five, years, which often prevents the organization from addressing issues that arise in the external environment. Left unaddressed, these issues may negatively impact the organization. Similarly, without constant monitoring of and adaptation to the marketplace, the organization may be unaware of, and thus not address, a situation that could benefit it.
  • The lack of sufficient focus on developing the organization’s capacity to think and act strategically on an ongoing basis. Traditional strategic planning often occurs apart from the day-to-day work of the organization. The nonprofit’s capacity to recognize trends, factors, and events that may impact it, and to proactively address these, is not developed. When changes occur, the organization may be no better prepared to deal with them than it was when it began its planning process.
  • The focus on operational and programmatic issues, rather than on issues impacting the organization’s advancement of its mission. Related to this is the lack of focus on the marketplace and how the organization is positioned in its market. Organizations often end up focusing on the trees and missing the forest. 

Why Our Model is Better:

One of the major strengths of the strategic planning model we use is its focus on the ongoing process of developing strategy. The healthcare environment is rapidly changing and evolving, and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), as well as other healthcare organizations, must rapidly adapt to these influences.

During the strategic planning session, one Senior Consultant from FQHC Associates facilitates the sessions (which generally include Board Members and Senior Executives) while another Senior Consultant provides detailed industry expertise. As part of the final deliverables, we facilitate the development of your organization’s strategic plan, which includes:

  • Clear and concise organizational mission, vision and values.
  • An organizational identity statement to help protect against mission drift.
  • A competition analysis that defines the competition and outlines the organization’s competitive advantage in the market place.
  • The identification of challenges, which must always be considered when making strategic decisions.
  • Carefully developed market trends, both current and future.
  • Identification of future business models for the organization.
  • A strategy screen to be utilized by the Board to vet potential strategies on an ongoing basis.
  • Clearly defined next steps to accomplish the organization’s high-level objectives.
  • The tools to incorporate strategic decision making into every Board meeting.
  • A licensed copy of La Piana’s The Nonprofit Strategy Revolution – Real-Time Strategic Planning in a Rapid-Response World.

By utilizing this strategic planning process, we help organizations develop the tools for forming organizational strategy and provide the structure to overcome the drawbacks of traditional strategic planning.

If you are interested in discussing how FQHC Associates can bring your organization to a new level of strategic planning, please contact Bill Franz at bfranz@fqhc.org.


Bill Franz, Director of Health Access - FQHC Division at FQHC Germane, is a seasoned executive with over 20 years of nonprofit experience. His areas of expertise include finance, accounting, operations, information technology and strategic planning. Bill is a motivated leader who has the ability to see the long-term potential of an organization, develop creative approaches to challenges and find tactical solutions to move an organization forward both strategically and operationally.

Read more about Bill here.

To contact Bill, email him at BFranz@FQHC.org.