Strategic planning is a logical, data driven process that helps groups move beyond general concern to realizing the change they wish to see. The strategic planning process narrows down problems into solvable pieces, identifying goals and creating procedures for achieving desired outcomes.
Strategic planning helps prevention workers first identify their own particular AOD problems through a data-driven analysis and then clarify desired outcomes before selecting activities to reach those outcomes.
Though it takes time and effort, strategic planning is a crucial step in developing a sound prevention program. The urgency of issues involved may tempt prevention workers to start planning activities right away, based on or duplicating the programs of other campuses and communities. In the process, they may choose strategies that are not grounded in evidence of effectiveness; they could also choose strategies that ñ while effective ñ do not address the specific issues their campus is facing. Strategic planning guides the prevention team in implementing successful strategies to address the AOD issues unique to their campus.
Creating a strategic plan also integrates evaluation into activity implementation and helps ensure a more effective and complete evaluation.
Each of the following comprises a critical step in the strategic planning process:
Through survey data, and individual and environmental indicators, the prevention team examines the who, what, where, when, and how of alcohol and other drug use on campus to identify specific problem areas.
After clearly identifying the problem, the prevention team describes the changes they wish to see.
Based on the desired outcomes they have identified, the prevention team consults current research to select appropriate evidence-based strategies to achieve those outcomes.
Once they have selected strategies to pursue, the prevention team examines the level of willingness and ability to use these strategies and tactics adapted from the  Tri-Ethnic Center to create change in campus and community life.
Once the level of readiness has been identified, the prevention team selects a series of activities that will help them move toward achieving the desired outcome.
Evaluation is a fundamental component of developing, assessing, and improving upon prevention programs and policies.