Strategic Planning and Reporting in Local Government

We are the creators of the Government Framework©

If I were to ask to you compare the construction of a building to running a local government, you might suggest an analogy detailing the requirements for a strong foundation and a desire to utilize the best workers available. You would not be wrong.

If I were to ask you to take a step back, however, and be mindful of the logging aphorism, “Give me an hour to chop down a tree and I will spend the first forty minutes sharpening the axe”, you might consider planning aspects common to both construction and local government.

Building construction requires a multitude of plans – from concrete formwork, to fire sprinkler pipework, electrical wiring, plumbing networks, cabling, framing, and so on. Local government strategic planning is very similar in this respect.

Local government strategic planning is complemented by operational plans, corporate plans, governance plans, master plans and so on, that require an integrated framework to ensure each plan is working toward a unified outcome.

While construction planning generally moves off the computer and onto a series of overlayed sheets of paper on a large, angled desk in a muddy floored portable site shed, local government strategic planning generally reverses this and starts on large sheets of butcher paper taped to a wall before the information is transferred onto the computer.

When highlighting successful proponents of either technique, the process for their ultimate result remains the same – an overlay of planning that details every facet of construction and output in order to produce a rewarding outcome.

How do you overlay 20, 50, or 100+ diverse local government plans, including strategic goals, financial obligations, operational services, community-based programs, etcetera, you ask? By combining an integrated planning and reporting framework designed for local government, with both powerful and flexible planning strategy software.

Specifically, our Local Government Framework© allows for plans to integrate coherently, creating alignment and removing duplication of efforts and resources.

Take one broad and somewhat immeasurable council strategic goal, ‘Create a healthy community’. The outcome generation for this goal can be approached by creating a multi-levelled and multi-layered response utilising various departments, objectives, goals, actions, and plan linkages to achieve the one goal. An example illustrating a dual-level response is shown in the table below.

Department ‘Child’ Goal (collecting written updates) Data Tracking (collecting numerical updates) Linked to which Plan(s)
Recreation Decrease leisure centre pricing every Wednesday Entry attendance data Strategic, Recreation, Service Level Adjustment Request.
Infrastructure Improve/Develop a series of multi-purpose exercise lanes Bike/Walking path usage data Strategic, Infrastructure, Capital Projects, Capital Budget.
Community Services Undertake a demographic specific ‘Healthy Eating & Exercise Strategies’ lecture series Lecture attendance data Strategic, Community Services.
Communication Create ‘Healthy Living’ campaign: create web page/ pamphlets, utilise doctors/local businesses to disperse materials and community owned advertising space Pamphlet dispersal/Website traffic metrics Strategic, Communication, Community Surveys.

Each of these ‘child’ goals (children of the strategic goal) and the activities and information derived from them would be represented and linked within the plans listed above. Managers would provide up to date and concise written updates and supporting data to confirm outcomes.

By utilising the integrated planning and reporting framework, all information would be available to view at each level independently, or at all levels at once with the click of a button (with the ability to integrate financial/organizational data to automatically update goals within the system from your existing financial/ancillary software as you like). Managers would only be required to update each assignment in one place and the information would cascade up to respond to the strategic plan, and across to respond to other relevant plans.

Now consider what has been done with one council strategic goal, and extrapolate that process into every activity undertaken at your organization. The hours you will save through ease of reporting, decreased duplication of efforts, and the reduced need for meetings/emails to supply updates at each level of your organization, will astound you and impress your council.

To offer a prime example of this, Moira Shire Council in rural Victoria, Australia, undertook a planning overhaul to modernize the way they developed, tracked, and reported against their local government strategic planning. Their team of over 400 staff possessed over 100 planning documents that were rife with overlap and duplication, and lacked structure and alignment.

In order to gain a workable view of their complete planning landscape they needed to evolve from lone plans operating under a silo structure – which were only capable of generating reports, scorecards and Red/Amber/Green updates providing a limited view – to an integrated planning and reporting framework which could present a complete line of sight into all their operations.

They required:

  • An integrated planning & reporting framework,
  • An easy-to-use system,
  • A specialist Local Government vendor,
  • A partnership with ongoing training,
  • Local support.

Their response:

  • Implement our Local Government Framework©, whose core purpose is to centralize and integrate local government strategic planning by drawing plans and information from every facet of the organization. In turn, provide the flexibility to allow City CAO/CEO’s to view all pertinent information within specialized reports/dashboards that contain up-to-date information and can be generated in seconds.
  • Employ Cascade Strategy Software: The key functionality includes multiple plans capable of tracking all aspects of our operations, unlimited planning levels, plan linkages, operational planning page for managers, strategy model, planning and update templates, and ease of integration and reporting.
  • Undertake the Training and Development Program: Developing managers’ planning and reporting acumen, and training them to provide current and consistent information which will benefit the municipality or council and provide them with the tools needed to make timely and effective decisions.

The Process:

  • Moira submitted all their plans to for a plan audit and analysis. They entered their planning within the software, undertook content management sessions to ensure planning integration, and helped to develop data driven tracking and measurement of planning content where relevant.
  • worked with Moira on a monthly basis to develop planning and software familiarity, which strengthened their managers’ understanding of their planning obligations and operational undertakings within an overlayed and integrated format.
  • implemented specific CAO/CEO driven reports and dashboards for ease of reporting, providing all managers the tools to score, evaluate, measure and track against their organizational activities within seconds. The tools contain not just scorecards or stand-alone data, but a holistic reporting apparatus that features written updates straight from the manager responsible for each undertaking, alongside supporting data cascading up from each level of the organization.

The result:

  • Through use of the Local Government Framework© Insights within Cascade Strategy Software, Moira Shire Council were able to implement an integrated planning and reporting solution for their local government strategic planning, operational planning, service levels, capital projects, project management, COVID-19 strategy(emergency management and business continuity), governance planning, customer contact activity reporting, and integrated their financials with the system for the benefit of automated financial updates.
  • By utilizing the monthly Training & Development Program, managers were able to reduce manager anxiety and help develop their planning and reporting skills, increase their planning engagement, ensure planning and reporting was complete and on time.

Next Steps:

  • Moira’s staff are now competent and consistent planning software users, and advocates of the Insights Local Government Framework©. They are now planning to phase in:
    • Risk management
    • Employee performance
    • Community grants
    • Federal/Provincial/State grants

Moira Shire Council is one of many throughout Australia, Canada and the U.S. who has benefitted from’s understanding of local government operations and their planning requirements. Our planning knowledge base has evolved from local government strategic planning software consulting to complete local government planning integration.

We can now incorporate service level planning and adjustments, grants, contracts, leases, tenders, policies, bylaws, projects, long & short-term financial planning, risk planning, asset management, as well as integrating your existing software to automatically update from one system to another… and to your website or a portal we can create to exhibit your planning to a public audience.

At we do not ask, “What are you doing and how can we help?”, we ask, “What do you want to be doing and how can we help to develop this for you?”

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