Comprehensive, Yet Concise Format

A recovery plan need not be an overly formal or large document. Time is at a premium during a recovery, so a simple plan will be easier to produce and will be understood more easily by others. The purpose of the recovery plan is to put the strategies on paper and define the actions and accountabilities needed for their execution.

The plan should be broad in scope – it should address expenditure and revenue issues, hard and soft concerns, and short- and long-term priorities.

The diagnosis performed earlier helps identify those issues with the most potential to make a difference in the recovery. The recovery plan should focus on those.

Essential elements of a recovery plan are:
  • External environment analysis. The political and economic environment has a powerful influence on the recovery. Understand the factors at work.
  • Financial projections. Include a three- to five-year projection of expenditures and revenues. It is important to have clarity on the long-term financial position so that there is a common understanding of the imbalance that has to be addressed.
  • Description of goal. Provide a definition of what “recovery” looks like. This could include not only quantitative financial measures, but also qualitative items like the new capabilities that will be developed (e.g., budgeting, use of technology) or new policies that will be adopted.
  • Recovery strategies. Prepare a detailed description of the strategies to be pursued. The description should include:
    • Action item. The steps needed to complete the recovery treatment.
    • Key deliverable or milestone. The work product that will mark the completion of the action.
    • Individual(s) accountable. The person(s) who will be held responsible for completing an action item and deliverable. 
    • Deliverable/milestone due date.
    • Financial impact. The anticipated monetary costs and benefits of the strategy. Many recovery strategies will be intended to reduce costs. As such, the plan must include a clear financial baseline that savings will be measured against. Be sure to differentiate between hard, cashable savings and soft savings (e.g., time reductions). In a growing community, soft savings may be valuable because they allow a larger population to be served with the same staff. In a community that is not growing, soft savings may not be as useful. This section of the recovery plan should also identify any cost elements that are out the strategies scope. For example, perhaps costs associated with a critical project can’t be cut.
  • Budget process analysis. Identify key strengths and weaknesses of the operating and capital budgeting process.
  • Budget reform plan. Explain how the budget process will be reformed to produce more financially sustainable decisions. 
  • Operational analysis. Present key strengths and weaknesses of major departments and/or programs.
  • Operational action plan. Identify how to address weaknesses and realize greater efficiencies in major departments and/or programs. These initiatives should support the recognized strengths of the department/program or support one of the recovery strategies. 
  • Risk assessment. Identify relevant risks to the recovery process. Potential sources of risk include:
    • Environment risk. Risk arising from factors outside the organization.
    • Process risk. The recovery process does not achieve what it was designed to achieve. This could be because of inadequate internal controls, lack of technical skills, or mismatches between the plan and stakeholder expectations. 
    • Information risk. When information used to support decisions is incomplete, out of date, inaccurate, late or irrelevant.

Go on to Communicating Efficiently 

Back to the recovery process diagram

Back to the recovery homepage