There are two paths forward for home owners’ associations in 2021. One is to plan for a return to “business as usual” post pandemic. Another is to re-energize and adapt your HOA to be better equipped for the future through strategic planning.

Why Create or Revisit a Strategy Plan?

In short, strategic planning involves goal setting, including long-term plans for your community and the path to get there. It allows directors to detach from the issues of day-to-day association management, revisit your mission and vision for the future.

Goals from a strategic plan should be reviewed on a regular basis. Because of the global pandemic, it may be an opportune time to consider things like digital communications to keep owners informed or exploring the legalities of virtual meetings. If you don’t have a plan, or one that was created years ago, 2021 may be an ideal time to take a fresh look.

Creating an HOA Strategy Plan

When members come together for an HOA board strategic planning session, an important thing that happens is the way the vision and mission of the community is recalled and transformed into actionable plans. This results in HOA board strategy plan tools that can address many of the big issues that the community faces now, or in the future.

HOA strategic planning gives everyone a chance to relook at the bigger picture, then decide what strategies are needed to make the community vision a reality. Consider some of these questions when coming up with a HOA strategy plan:

  • What culture and aesthetics make up the community identity?
  • What resident types fit best into your community?
  • Are there improvements and events that can uplift your community’s brand?
  • What are the current and future needs of your residents and how can they be addressed?
  • Can the community amenities and infrastructure be improved?
  • Can the board be improved to better drive service delivery?

Useful tools for sorting your HOA projects and priorities is what results from the HOA board strategy plan. This can guide the allocation of this and next year’s budget as well as included reserves. Reviewing and updating the HOA strategy plans and progress regularly is crucial to the long-term vitality of a managed communities.

For a more complete overview in creating a strategic plan, it is a good idea to read through this document from CAI Hawaii. We have also honed down seven basic steps below, so you can get started thinking about developing your HOA strategy plan.

  1. Revisiting Your Community’s Core Values, Mission Statement and Vision

At the forefront of your HOA strategy plan should be the community’s core values, as embodied in its vision and mission statements. The purpose of the association should be clearly defined in the mission statement.

Focus on what makes your community unique as much as possible and how the HOA strategy plan can support that. Ideally, the association should be well-organized and managed, where homeowners are actively involved meeting everyone’s needs.

Refer to your governing documents and other resources to help you and the board with this step of the HOA strategic planning process. You can expect to get everyone involved with this discussion in merely 1 to 2 hours to cover the core values of the HOA, its mission and vision, as long as the meeting stays on track.

  1. Develop a Planning Session Agenda

Based on your previous board discussion about the board’s vision for the community, you can create an agenda of which points you want to address. Details will be added later on when the board puts together the HOA strategy plan in the next sharing session. Try to involve all board members as much as possible.

This meeting may take up a good chunk of the day. Plan for 6 hours, and start the meeting no later than noon.

Your job, as the meeting planner, is to make sure that you have a good venue, enough time allocated for everyone to get involved, with the right resource people outside the association attending the meeting. Following are the elements of the planning session.

  1. Facilitate a Sharing Session

Having a good facilitator is the best way to hold a sharing session. In this session, members share their project ideas and present a preliminary plan for them. Arguments may erupt over why certain projects should be a priority. A neutral party can be a good facilitator – ensuring that everyone is given fair time to discuss their ideas.

  1. Brainstorming Priorities and Resource Allocation

With a new list of ideas and projects, take the time to organize them into an HOA strategy plan. Do this by deciding which projects are urgent or high-priority and organize them into mid-term and long-term initiatives. Discuss how to allocate resources once you have an idea on which projects need to be completed now verses which ones can be completed within five years.

  1. Consulting an Expert

As you go through the HOA strategy plan, resource allocation may require the knowledge of an expert. For example, tasks like making a maintenance plan for the swimming pool, may need to be assessed by someone with that knowledge and background.

Hire the appropriate person if needed, to itemize details for your maintenance plans. Also, hiring someone to execute the association reserve study provides a beneficial tool for long-term planning use.

  1. Developing a Working Document

Keep a brief working document for your reference of the HOA strategy plan as changes may need to happen. Once the sharing sessions have been wrapped up, the HOA board will need to approve HOA strategy plan. You can use this document to solicit suggestions from community members in an open meeting afterwards.

  1. Scheduling Meetings for Regular Plan Review

From time to time, check in with everyone involved in developing the HOA strategy. Scheduling a re-evaluation of the plan one a quarter allows the board to check on its progress and make operating budget adjustments as needed.