Integrated Planning Glossary

Cover (Integrated Planning Glossary)

One key to successful planning is to establish a common language regarding the act of integrated planning. The purpose of the SCUP Integrated Planning Glossary is to establish a shared understanding of planning terms. Keep in mind, there is wide variability in how these terms are applied throughout higher education. Nevertheless, this glossary will give you a place to begin conversations on your campus to create your common planning language and a culture of planning.



Academic planning. Planning that outlines an institution’s overall academic goals and how those goals will be met. [1]
It can include academic program planning, academic structure, organizational framework, institution-wide outcomes or competencies, and division or department goals and how they align to the overall AP. See also academic program planning.

Academic program planning. A subset of academic planning, academic program planning measures, analyzes, and prioritizes academic programs to help institutions achieve strategic balance. [2] See also academic planning.

Accreditation. Higher education accreditation is a type of quality assurance process under which services and operations of institutions or programs are evaluated by an external body to determine if applicable standards are met. If standards are met, accredited status is granted by the agency. In most countries around the world, the function of higher education accreditation is conducted by a government organization, such as a ministry of education. [3]

Action planning. See tactical planning.

Alignment. A state of agreement and cooperation among individuals, groups, processes, documents, etc., about what should be done, how, and why.

Alignment, horizontal. The coordination of groups across boundaries so they effectively work together toward the same goals.

Alignment, vertical. The direct connection of desired outcomes from mission to on-the-ground operations.

Assessment. Processes that use data and information to measure the effectiveness of institutional efforts and identify how those efforts can be improved. Includes strategic plan evaluation, student learning outcomes, institutional effectiveness, etc.


Benchmarks. Specific performance indicators used to compare institutions or programs against established criteria. See also metric.

Bottom-up leaders. These are informal leaders who use influence and politics to persuade and bring about change.

Budget, capital. A plan of funding and expenditures for future buildings, major renovations, and remodeling.

Budget, operational. A plan of revenue to be generated and expenditures (or transfers) from that revenue over a finite period of time (such as a fiscal year).

Budget planning. The process for allocating funds in an institution. See also resource planning, capital planning.

Budget process. The method and timeline (or cycle) used by an institution to create its operating budget.


Campus master planning. Planning that outlines the long-term direction of the physical campus (often called the “physical manifestation of an institution’s strategic plan”). It includes elements such as land development, facilities, transportation, infrastructure, landscape, and town/gown. At its best, it is a roadmap for the future of a campus, and becomes a crucial tool in confirming that short-term projects are working in conjunction with long-term plans and goals. See also capital planning, physical planning, strategic planning.

Capabilities. How an institution uses its organizational capacity (the things it does). See organizational capacity (Leinwand and Mainardi, 2016).

Capabilities, basic. The capabilities every institution should be proficient in (Leinwand and Mainardi, 2016).

Capabilities, distinctive. What your institution does well, what the stakeholders you serve value, and what your competitors can’t beat (Leinwand and Mainardi, 2016).

Capital planning. Within the context of its strategic plan and campus master plan, the process by which an institution decides which long-term investments in future buildings, major renovations, and remodeling to make. [4] See also budget planning, campus master planning, physical planning, resource planning.

Change management. A systematic approach to dealing with change, both from the perspective of an organization and on the individual level.

Coalition. A group of people — often from disparate parts of a complex organization—who have joined together for a common purpose. These groups are either formal (see steering committee, planning team, or implementation team) or informal (see kitchen cabinet). Coalition-building is a required element of integrated planning. [5]

Collective leadership. Leadership by group — either a group of top-down leaders or a group of bottom-up leaders.

Communication plan. A document that outlines how you will inform, engage with, and seek feedback from your plan’s stakeholders, including specific audiences, messages, delivery methods, and frequency.

Conflict. A struggle or contest between people with opposing needs, ideas, beliefs, values, or goals.

Consultant. External agent who provides guidance for fee on any part of the integrated planning process. [6]

Critical success factor. A condition or variable that is necessary for an institution or project to achieve its mission. Answers the question: What must we do to be successful?


Difference. A way in which ideas, people, or things are not the same.

Disruption. Short for “disruptive innovation,” which is an innovation that makes a complicated and expensive product simpler and cheaper and therefore attracts a new set of customers. (Christensen and Eyring 2011).


Environmental scanning. An exploration and analysis of the external factors affecting an institution. See also STEEP analysis.

Execution. See implementation.


Facilities planning. See physical planning.

Financial planning. See budget planning.

Futuring. An exercise that helps institutions plan for future forces by thinking in the future tense, then using the resulting insights to shape plans and actions, both today and into the future.


Gap analysis. A method to assess the current state, the desired future state, and what an institution needs to move from the current state to the desired future state.

Goal. A broad, general statement of intended outcomes or results. See also GOST.

GOST. Pronounced “ghost,” GOST is an acronym for Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Tactics.


Implementation. The process of putting a plan into action.

Implementation plan. A document that outlines how the strategic plan will be put into action, monitored, and revised.

Implementation team (I-Team). The group of people who coordinate implementation of the strategic plan. [7] See also planning team.

Initiative. A general term for a strategy, program, product, service, or project.

Institutional context. An institution’s distinct set of challenges, conditions, and history that shape planning and strategy (Norris and Poulton 2008).

Institutional plan. A plan for a specific aspect of operations or for cross-boundary initiatives that cover the entire institution. Examples: academic plan, campus master plan, budget plan, IT plans, student life, enrollment services, etc.

Integrated planning. A sustainable approach to planning that builds relationships, aligns the organization, and emphasizes preparedness for change. Integrated planning is both an overarching model of alignment—the connective tissue amongst disparate institutional planning efforts— and a process of planning within each of the institution’s component planning efforts. See also strategic planning.


Kitchen cabinet. Informal or unofficial group of trusted advisors often, but not always, involved in an integrated planning process. [8] See also consultant, sponsor, planning team.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI). A quantifiable metric used to evaluate the success of an organization, employee, etc., in meeting objectives for performance (Oxford English Dictionary). See also metric.


Landscape. See environmental scanning.


Mandate. A directive an institution is required to do (or not do), often imposed by an external actor or force. Mandates may be formal, such as laws, rules, regulations, or informal, such as political mandates for change or deeply held public expectations.

Maturity model. A step approach that enables institutions to assess their planning capability. The integrated planning maturity model can be used as a tool for institutions to develop a roadmap for improving integrated planning.

Metric. A measurement that tracks, monitors, and assesses the effectiveness of an objective, initiative, or plan.

Milestone. A significant date or event during the implementation of a plan.

Mission. An institution’s stated purpose or reason for existence.


Objective. A specific, measurable outcome an institution intends to accomplish. See GOST.

Operational planning. A process for determining the day-to-day operations of an institution or unit over the next one to 12 months.

Opportunities. See SWOT analysis.

Organizational capacity. The resources an institution has available to use, including physical resources (land, buildings), IT, budget, and human resources (time and skill).

Organizational culture. A system of assumptions, values, and beliefs that drives behaviors, actions, roles, and practices in an organization.

Outcome. A result from the implementation of a plan or any of its components.


Performance measure. See metric.

Physical planning. Commonly known as facilities planning, physical planning is planning that outlines goals and uses for all of an institution’s owned and/or leased space. It is based on an institution’s strategic plan and includes short-term tactics and prioritization of, and funding for, annual facility-related projects. While a physical plan, which has a shorter time horizon, typically responds to a campus master plan (which generally has a time horizon of 10 years), it also aligns with other unit plans (academic plan, technology plan, budget plan). See also campus master planning.

Plan to plan. See planning roadmap.

Planning horizon. The amount of time an institution will look into the future when preparing a strategic plan (or the amount of time covered by a particular plan or planning cycle). In general, its length is dictated by the degree of uncertainty in the external environment. The higher the uncertainty, the shorter the planning horizon. [9]

Planning roadmap. The “plan to plan” that documents the planning process to be used, including activities, timeline, stakeholders, planning horizon, and scope.

Planning team (P-Team). A formal group of people assembled to prepare a plan. [10] See implementation team.

Power. The ability or capacity to influence or direct the behavior of others.


Resource planning. The process for determining and allocating resources in an institution, including funds, people, space/facilities, technology, and equipment.


Scenario planning. A process that generates multiple well-crafted contradictory narratives about the future to anticipate possible outcomes of driving forces (Wade 2012).

Shared leadership. Group leadership where top-down leaders and bottom-up leaders partner together.

SMART. An acronym that describes the characteristics of a good goal. It stands for:

  • Specific: Clearly define the intended outcome.

  • Measurable: The goal can be quantified.

  • Assignable: A person, department, or committee could be given responsibility for the goal.

  • Realistic: It can be achieved with an institution’s resources and in the amount of time indicated.

  • Timebound: Identifies when the goal will be completed.