Dalhousie University

How a university Faculty unlocked the key to strategic planning efficiency with AchieveIt

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Located in Nova Scotia, Canada, Dalhousie University spreads across four campuses in Halifax, Truro, and satellite locations in Yarmouth and Saint John, New Brunswick. This dynamic institution draws a rich tapestry of students, scholars, researchers, and staff dedicated to collaborative learning and a shared commitment to service. With a student body of over 20,000 strong from all corners of Canada and over 115 nations worldwide, Dalhousie thrives on their diverse and innovative approach to academia and research.


With a tradition of pioneering research and exceptional academia, the University is dedicated to cultivating a dynamic, interactive, and cooperative atmosphere. With a community of 13 faculties and units, the University has exceptional leaders focused on empowering students and employees in the pursuit of excellence. And specifically, Dalhousie’s Faculty of Health stands out as one of the university’s largest entities, boasting an unrivaled array of programs in the Canadian healthcare landscape.


Despite this long history of success, the Faculty of Health did not have a strong track record of strategic planning, and in 2017 launched its first strategic plan in many years. The plan contained more than 300 items that were stored on lists and spreadsheets scattered across various mediums, new leadership within the Faculty of Health prioritized changing systems and processes to facilitate strategic progress. And so, the team began a transformative shift towards a more strategic mindset, integrating key objectives into their core work and fostering a culture of buy-in and collaboration. The Faculty of Health was eager to empower faculty and staff members to create an environment of consistent progress and growth, as well as embrace a more structured and comprehensive approach to strategic planning. But the previous process of de-centralized spreadsheets & lists wouldn’t support this transformation.


So, they turned to AchieveIt. The team leveraged the platform to create an effective system for holding employees accountable and focused. In previous quarters, collecting updates took days, or even weeks. Now, they complete updates rapidly and with clear accountability. The speed of updates enabled more frequent reporting which further encourages healthy competition among members and units. Everyone knows exactly what needs to be accomplished by when. Delivering results on strategic initiatives is not only part of each person’s responsibility, but also serves as recognition for everyone’s contributions towards shared goals. And all of this can be compiled across the Faculty with reports delivered straight to the provost in just 2 days’ time.


Now, they’re embracing a cultural shift, especially as they launch their new strategic plan. The AchieveIt platform is leveraged as a comprehensive solution for strategic planning, paving the way for enhanced strategic engagement and efficiency. The new streamlined strategic plan focuses on measurable outcomes and agility and adaptability to ensure continued success. And all of this is bolstered by the collective determination of the group to take responsibility for its implementation. Beyond the success of the Faculty of Health, four other academic units within the Faculty now have fresh strategic plans that are ready to be adopted, sparking a transformation in accountability and enthusiasm surrounding accomplishments. The next step? The integration of advanced dashboards into the system across the Faculty. The frame of mind is now, “This is what we're doing. These are our targets. This is how we're going to get there, and you are responsible for that work. This is a team effort.”

Dalhousie University
Dalhousie University logo
    Higher Education
    Strategic Planning
    Dean's Office - Faculty of Health

The weight was lifted. It has revolutionized what they have been able to accomplish. We were like, “This is what we need -- this is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that we were looking for!” And with the support from AchieveIt, the amount of time and resources available, it’s worth every cent!"

-  Dr. Brenda Merritt, Dean, Faculty of Health, and Suzie Officer, Executive Director, Planning and Strategy

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