Skip to main content
Office of Sport

Strategy and planning for success

The Board (or Executive), which is comprised of Directors and can include executive Committees of Management, is ultimately responsible for the success of the organisation it governs.   

To be effective a Board should have a clear vision for, and understanding of, the purpose and future direction of the organisation. An important function of the Board is to plan strategy and direction and develop a strategic plan that should guide staff and members to achieve identified objectives. 

Regardless of the sport’s governance structure, strategy is the fundamental enabler for unified behaviours between the National Sporting Organisation (NSO), the State Sporting Organisation (SSO), it’s regional associations and clubs. 

A national ‘whole of sport’ strategy enables all levels of a sport to operate with the same purpose and direction for the benefit of the sport as a whole.  It enables all involved to have a clear, specific and inspiring understanding of what the sport aspires to achieve and, importantly, how they collectively help to achieve this.  When a NSO engages with member bodies and other key stakeholders to provide input into the direction of the sport, the sport will collectively be more likely to develop a unified national direction, in turn assisting the delivery of the whole of sport strategies.  

What is the strategic planning process?

The Board should determine the process by which it oversees and develops the strategic direction, key objectives and performance measures as well as the core values and ethical framework for the organisation. While the Board chooses approach, a Toolkit (PDF, 829.47 KB)  has been developed to assist SSOs to develop a strategic plan.

SSOs may produce separate documents for strategic, operational and supplementary plans, particularly if it is a large sport. 

A strategic plan sets out where your SSO is heading and why it's heading there. An operational plan details how your SSO will get there.

It is important to recognise that the SSO in fact, should have one planning process to achieve a common strategic direction. The planning process should take into account if the sport has a “whole of sport” strategies.

All key organisational stakeholders should be consulted throughout the strategic planning process. This should ensure future strategies address the most important issues facing the organisation, its stakeholders and the wider sport sector. 

The planning process

  1. Establish a planning committee or workgroup comprised of key people within the SSO with the knowledge and experience of the business of the sport. 
  2. Typically, those involved would be office bearers/directors, treasurer, management, coaches/officials. If possible, appoint an experienced external facilitator

  1. Consult with your NSO to align strategies with the broader whole of sport strategic plan.
  2. Review your SSOs past outcomes and present position, including mission, vision and values. 
  3. Investigate trends within the broader sport sector, as well as your SSO, affiliated clubs and regional or district associations. 
  4. Do a SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. 
  5. Establish realistic and timely performance indicators.
  6. Draft action plans, assign responsibilities to key people.
  7. Analyse current financial status including forecast balance sheet, cash flow and profit and loss statement. 
  8. Include key stakeholders to ensure with buy-in during the implementation stage.

  1. If you don’t have a format to follow, download and customise the Strategic Plan Template (DOCX, 84.54 KB)
  2. The planning document needs to be relevant to the people within your SSO. 
  3. Use it as a management tool. The detail of what, who, when, where, how and the financial implications will need to be worked through. This is particularly important to help formulate the fully costed annual operational plan.

  1. Commonly the most neglected stage of the planning process is the monitoring, evaluation and review of the plan. If you cannot monitor something, then how can you manage it? Monitoring systems need to be put into the plan to enable management to evaluate and review the progress of the organisation’s planning documents.
  2. Assign responsibilities for implementation of strategies.
  3. Create realistic timelines for implementation of action plans.
  4. Evaluate and update entire plan at least annually, ideally before budget planning.
  5. Regularly evaluate your plan: Targets should be evaluated quarterly.
  6. Financial plans should be evaluated monthly.
  7. Action plans should be evaluated monthly, weekly and daily.

Key points 

  • The planning process should be seen as a continual process rather than compiling documents that once finished, remain on the shelf untouched. 
  • The organisation’s strategic and operational plans should be documents that are referred to regularly, and reviewed and changed at various times in the future as internal and external influences change and various objectives are achieved. 
  • The operational plan should be reviewed annually to ensure the strategic priorities for the organisation are current, and to check if modification is required. This is why the process is described as one process rather than separate processes for the organisation’s strategic plan versus the operational plan.

More information

  • Clearinghouse for Sport – a huge library of strategy and planning information and resources specifically for Australian sporting bodies.


Note: as with any legal documents, this does not replace obtaining legal advice on each sports specific requirements and it is recommended you do so.

The information provided is for your information only. The authors and the NSW Office of Sport accept no responsibility for the accuracy of the information or your reliance upon it.

Top of page