All organizations have a strategy. It defines their reason for being and what they plan to accomplish in the long term. It is generally divided into five sections:


    1. Mission

    2. Vision

    3. Values

    4. Objectives

    5. Goals

    The mission and vision statements are developed by senior management and approved by the board of directors or governing board. They are generally published for all in the organization to see and adopt. Properly used, these guiding statements set the tone for organizational behavior and are used to evaluate current and future opportunities.

    All departments and work groups within the organization should establish their mission, vision, objectives and goals such that they are congruent with the organization’s direction. Do so, and the department becomes strategically aligned with the overall organization.

    Seems like a simple concept. Yet, in practice, too many departments work in a direction different from that established by senior management. A careful look at department priorities too often reveals a variance between the stated mission and departmental practices. This invariably creates organizational dysfunction and conflict.

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    Forms management departments are frequent participants in this organizational dysfunction. Priorities and departmental practices seem more intent on forms control than forms management. Activities center around cost management rather than new business and customer support. The drive to add staff deviates from organizational objectives to cut costs. Strategic dysfunction results, and the forms management department cannot win that fight.

    It all begins with a thorough understanding of the organizational mission, vision, values, objectives and goals statements.

    It is important not only to read the words but to incorporate these statements into the departmental mission, vision, values, objectives and goals. Activity should be driven by these statements and results measured in terms of helping to accomplish them. Anything short of complete congruence will set the department up for failure, where downsizing and outsourcing become predictable outcomes.

    So, given their importance, let’s examine each of these statements. Of course, there could be differences in definitions and implementation among the various organizational components. The important thing is to understand what your chief executive wants. Then commit yourself to helping accomplish it.

    Once you have a thorough understanding of the organizational direction, you should establish your own departmental direction. It should follow the same outline as the organization, using the same terms and definitions. It must be consistent with the overall organizational direction. Let’s examine each of them.

    1. Departmental mission

    Your mission statement should support the organizational mission, focus on revenue generation and customer retention, address cost control and define the value proposition. It should be short (no more than two or three sentences or short paragraphs) and to the point.

    2. Departmental vision

    The vision statement should establish what the department will look like in the future. Consider trends and technologies, as well as organizational direction. It could include scenarios based on technological change, define the benefits achieved by the organization from the department’s success and establish the department as the resource area for your particular expertise. Again, the vision statement should support the organizational vision, be short and concise and must be realistic.

    The opportunity here is to establish your department as visionary. Don’t be constrained by the present. Be aware of opportunities that might present themselves.

    3. Departmental values

    Generally, your department should adopt the same values as the organization.

    4. Departmental objectives

    This is an area where considerable thought must be given. For the most part, mission, vision and values should mirror organizational statements. Departmental objectives must support the organizational objectives but need to be specific to the department. They should include limitations and risks.

    5. Departmental goals

    Goals are short term in nature. They must be realistic, measurable and with a specific time frame for each goal. Goals must be relevant and important and should include a calculation of expected return on investment (ROI). Goals include project goals, personnel goals and equipment and software acquisition plans.

    The next step is to establish metrics. There is an old management axiom that states, “You cannot manage that which you do not measure.” In other words, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. Without clearly defining what you want to measure and how you will measure, it is difficult to communicate the value of your department.

    Once established, each metric should be measured daily. You will need a process in place to capture and organize the data. Waiting until the end of a reporting period makes it difficult to accomplish, as well as subjecting the measurements to doubt and questioning.

    A well-functioning forms department sets goals for helping the organization achieve its mission. This includes helping acquire new customers, servicing existing customers (customer retention), keeping forms technology current and aggressively managing costs associated with work processes as well as forms production.

    Forms are generally considered to be a cost center, to be managed to minimize the costs. To the extent you can align the department with organizational objectives, your department can be viewed as a revenue center. That will gain senior management attention and support.

    Ray Killam is the president of Essociates Group, a firm that provides forms training and consulting services. Contact him at

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