The Importance of an Internal Assessment

An internal assessment is an often forgotten, but in our experience, essential part of an organization’s strategic plan (see where it fits in the planning process in our article titled The Components of an Effective Strategic Planning System). A strategic plan is the key tool for growing an organization whether in market share, sales, profitability, excellence in service, etc. However, growth can outstrip an organization’s ability to perform to the extent that each new unit of product or service actually costs or loses money vs. bringing in profit. The speed, volume and effectiveness of an organization’s growth are direct products of its health. And the health of an organization is determined in a well-conducted internal assessment.

Consider your car. A typical vehicle is built to drive 200,000+ miles. However, that distance changes dramatically based on how the car is taken care of. Fail to provide regular needed maintenance, and you find yourself with costly repairs or perhaps even a vehicle beyond repair.

The same is true for your organization. The leadership may be organized, innovation plentiful, financing in place…but if the organization is not healthy, growth will slow or seize up, just like an automobile engine. That is the purpose of an internal assessment – to identify and plan out the needed “maintenance” of the organization so that it can continue to move toward its vision..

Consistency in the quality of both your product/service and your customers’ experience is key to maintaining and gaining market share. Can your organization deliver consistently high quality results? The internal assessment begins with an evaluation of the organization’s infrastructure, systems, processes, human resources and culture. Following the evaluation is development of a plan to correct any issues that are uncovered.

TtylStabilizing the quality of execution and growing infrastructure to keep pace with growth of sales is vital to maintaining market share or unit profitability as you grow. This is as true for non-profit organizations as it is for-profit ones. No matter the ownership structure or purpose, a single negative customer experience gets shared multiple times with damaging effects. Overburdened staff, last minute purchases, delays due to system inadequacies and, generally, not managing growth can have long-term negative impacts. Alternatively, a high functioning organization with consistency in quality throughout is an organization that can carry out its strategies for growth and move toward its vision.

What kinds of issues typically surface in an internal assessment? We have done hundreds of internal assessments as part of our Vision Navigation® strategic planning process. I recently had our staff compile results from those assessments, and here is what we have found.

  1. 44% of the assessments included HR and training/development issues (e.g. evaluations, unacceptable turnover, lack of training)
  2. Just over 25% of the assessments we studied included poor or unclear organizational structure as an issue
  3. Just over 25% included internal communications as an issue
  4. Just over 15% included lack of clear vision and many of these organizations had strategic plans. They just weren’t communicated to the troops. (To learn more about communicating your plan, view our article on Capturing More Value from Your Strategic Plan)
  5. Lack of alignment between management and governing boards or owners is another theme. Surprisingly, if it exists, it is well known in the rank and file and has a damaging impact upon morale.

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