• Location:

    Maplewood, MN

  • County:

    Ramsey County

  • Population:

    40,000

  • Project Champion:

    City Management Office

Goals hiding in spreadsheets

Shortly after Melinda Coleman took the reins as City Manager in 2015, Mike Funk joined the City of Maplewood as Assistant City Manager and Director of Human Resources. Their first priority was building the city’s strategic plan.

“We sat down with City Council for a day-long retreat. At that time, we had more of a focus on goal setting rather than strategy,” Mike explained. While City Council and City Management worked cohesively, the strategic planning process started and ended with them.

“In fact, later when we asked our staff members what was in the strategic plan, many did not know that we even had one.”

Tracking progress towards goals was another challenge. “As we all know, cities are data rich, but we weren’t using our data. We were using action steps and trying to report on those. Our strategic plan was spread out across 36 elongated Excel spreadsheets and it was really just a lot of words. We did not have performance measures. We did not have charts and graphs, and we didn’t talk about starting places or end places. That all made reporting difficult,” explained Mike.

There had to be a better way.

“We wanted to make sure we got buy-in for our plan throughout all levels of the organization. We also knew that we wanted to get beyond annual reporting. We weren’t able to really gauge if we were on target when we looked at the data just once a year,” said Mike. “After 2016, we knew that we were not putting our best foot forward on the strategic plan. That’s when we first started working with Envisio.”

The City of Maplewood adopted Envisio to keep their strategic plan on track and to help them collect, analyze and visualize city data to better inform decisions. The city management team also planned to roll out an Envisio public dashboard to showcase their progress to residents.

All stakeholders engaged in planning

In their next round of strategic planning, the City of Maplewood went beyond just consulting with City Council to include all stakeholders, starting with residents.

“We did a community-wide survey to help us really get an understanding of the community,” said Mike. Lois Knutson, Administrative Services and Performance Measurement Coordinator, used that feedback to support extensive planning meetings with 6 department heads, 40 supervisors and many of the city’s 170 full-time employees.

Lois explained:

“We had parks and maintenance staff, for example, sitting at the table with us creating action steps that feed into our performance measures and, ultimately, our key outcomes.”

This time, when Mike and Melinda arrived at the City Council retreat, they were empowered with community feedback, a list of key outcomes indicators, supporting performance measures and a staff action plan–all aligned to help achieve the six City Council priorities: (1) community inclusiveness, (2) integrated communication, (3) financial sustainability, (4) operational effectiveness, (5) infrastructure and asset management, and (6) targeted redevelopment.

Envisio makes the city’s strategic plan sticky

This time, Mike and Melinda knew that the strategic plan couldn’t hide in spreadsheets. It found a new home in Envisio, a centralized strategy and performance management solution.