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Strategic Planning & Your CFMA Chapter

By Stuart Binstock, President & CEO

You may have noticed that in each issue of CFMA Building Profits, the Chairman’s message takes a practical, contractor-focused perspective of the topic at hand, while I tend to focus on how that particular issue impacts our Association. In this Risk Management issue, Chairman Brad Robinson appropriately talks about the importance of making safety personal to a company’s risk management culture, whereas my thoughts focus on how we can help CFMA’s 92 chapters mitigate risk.

Since more than 90% of our members are connected to a CFMA chapter, improving a member’s chapter experience will correspondingly improve the Association’s performance as a whole. In my experience at CFMA and other construction industry associations with which I have worked, I’ve noticed that effective chapters regularly engage in some form of strategic planning.

If you’re wondering why your chapter should take the time to engage in strategic planning, consider the multiple benefits:

  • A strategic planning session allows a chapter to focus on big picture, strategic issues vs. operational issues.
  • It gives a chapter a road map for the year ahead.
  • It allocates a chapter’s financial resources as well as its leaders’ time commitments (both of which are limited resources) to issues of  utmost importance.
  • It provides an opportunity to think outside of the box about programs and services that may not have otherwise been considered.

CFMA provides chapters two options to implement this very useful exercise essentially for free: A chapter can use its Support, Training and Resources (STAR) funds – a $3,000 stipend granted to each chapter for a variety of activities including strategic planning – to hire an outside consultant; or, one of several CFMA HQ staff members can assist in this endeavor at no cost. An HQ staff member can also provide examples of what other chapters with similar issues and circumstances are doing.

Here is a real-life example of a recent strategic planning session I facilitated with a CFMA chapter. During the session, chapter leaders decided to investigate hiring a paid administrator to assist the chapter. I was able to show them a host of resources available on our website for chapters looking into a paid administrator, such as a sample RFP and a list of duties that an administrative staff person might perform.

We also gave them contact information for a few chapters similar in size so they could learn how each chapter uses its administrator. Also, after getting information about other chapter programs, the chapter decided to discontinue its scholarship program with a local university and is instead considering other charitable and outreach options that are more in line with its strategic vision.

One of the best ways to mitigate risk is to plan. And for our chapters, the best way to do that is through strategic planning.

Copyright © 2015 by the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA). All rights reserved. This article first appeared in CFMA Building Profits and is reprinted with permission. CFMA Building Profits is a member-only benefit; join CFMA to receive the magazine.

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