Dublin South City Partnership’s Ambitious Strategic Plan
Dublin South City Partnership (DSCP) is a local development company and registered charity which works to address disadvantage, unemployment and social exclusion in Dublin South City. DSCP provides a range of employment services and facilitates social and educational programmes to foster social inclusion. The organisation aims to deliver positive and lasting change in the South Dublin City area, supporting individuals and local communities to achieve better life outcomes. DSCP manages the SICAP, Local Employment Service, Ability and Tus Programmes on behalf of the government.
DSCP embarked on the development of a new, 5-year strategic plan with 2into3 in May 2021.
As an organisation serving a diverse and growing catchment area, DSCP faced ongoing and emerging challenges which they sought to prepare for, adapt and respond to in a sustainable way. DSCP’s Stretched capacity limited its ability to innovatively respond to the constantly evolving social, policy and funding environments related to the organisation’s work. DSCP’s income model was dominated by state funding, allowing little flexibility for it to build its organisational capacity and deliver programmes based on the priority needs of its community.
Additionally, DSCP highlighted novel threats posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the increasingly urgent issue of climate change. The organisation sought to understand the effects such threats would have on their communities and act quickly to ensure the best outcomes. As such, it was vital for DSCP to review their role as an advocate for inclusive policy change while developing infrastructure that would allow for innovative, timely community responses and for impact to be measured and communicated effectively.
Given the community-centred nature of its work, it was vital that DSCP’s new strategic plan be developed in a consultative, bottom-up way, informed by its staff and service users. With this in mind, 2into3 collaborated with DSCP to deliver its highly participative strategic planning methodology, out of which emerged a Strategic Plan.
DSCP’s new Strategic Plan includes: New Vision, Mission and Values statements.
Values: Inclusion, solidarity, equity, accountability, innovation, partnership.
Vision: “Striving to eliminate social exclusion by supporting and empowering individuals and communities to build a more equal, sustainable and vibrant society’
Mission: “To advance social inclusion and promote local and community development in Dublin South City by working in partnership with communities, individuals and stakeholders to support wellbeing, education, employment and enterprise”
Ten ambitions Strategic Goals under the Priorities of: Strengthening Our Communities, Strengthening Our Partnerships, Strengthening Our Organisation.
As part of the planning process, 2into3 supported the organisation to reimagine its organisational structure and made recommendations for strengthening its management and team capacity on an interim and longer-term basis. The new structure included the creation of a Senior Management Team and two new roles – helping to bring the number of direct reports to the CEO closer to best practice, and filling identified gaps in capacity.
This work was all underpinned by a financial modelling exercise, which projected forward the increases in income and expenditure through the lifespan of the Strategy and identified targets and actions for bringing in additional revenue.
DSCP emerged from the strategic development process with a rejuvenated sense of ambition and purpose, and a clear direction forward both in terms of service delivery and of organisational development.
The collaborative nature of the process helped to foster a sense of excitement around the changes to be put into action in the coming months and years among DSCP team and service users.
“Dublin South City Partnership serves a range of diverse and quickly growing communities. To ensure DSCP’s ability to grow and adapt to the evolving needs of our communities, we needed a plan that was ambitious while carefully considering the unique challenges faced by our organisation in improving outcomes in Dublin South City. Developing a Strategic Plan with 2into3 was a unifying and energizing experience for DSCP. With our new Strategic Plan, we feel ready to continue moving forward and grow sustainably.” – Una Lowry, CEO
Since the completion of DSCP’s strategy development in January 2022, considerable progress has been made in implementing the resulting plan, including a green light to proceed with the two new staff functions of finance and compliance. The Senior Management Team meets monthly to ensure that the Strategic Plan successfully progresses against the agreed milestones, with DSCP’s CEO praising the Plan’s clarity and accessibility. The organisation now awaits the Strategic Plan’s official launch by the Department of Rural and Community Development.
Later in 2022, DSCP engaged 2into3 to conduct a Board Review and Development exercise. During this work, Board members were invited to share their feedback via comprehensive questionnaire customised for DSCP. The insights formed the basis for a Board development workshop which specifically addressed the concerns arising (e.g. review of Board terms of reference, Trustees’ roles and responsibilities, Board structure, Board term limits, succession planning and Board effectiveness). The outcomes were summarised as a set of recommendations for the Board to action.