Supporting Municipal Strategic Planning for Accreditation

Client Needham Public Health Division 

Practice Area Strategic Planning and Design

The Story of the Needham Public Health Division

The Needham Public Health Division (NPHD) serves the population of the Town of Needham, located in Norfolk County Massachusetts, with a population of approximately 30,000 residents. They provide a wide range of services for the town to support the health and safety of the residents. The Public Health Division is divided into three divisions – Environmental Health and Community Health, Public Health Nursing and Substance Use Prevention, and Shared Services. The Shared Services division manages a regional coalition with the neighboring towns of Dover, Sherborn, and Medfield as well as a Regional Training Hub that provides state-funded training opportunities for the region. 

The Opportunity of Strategic Planning for Accreditation

The NPHD is applying for Public Health Accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). Public Health Accreditation is the measurement of a health department’s performance against a set of nationally recognized, practice-focused, and evidence-based standards. As part of this process, they are required to employ strategic planning skills to adopt a department-wide strategic plan. Strategic plans for PHAB accreditation have additional requirements beyond the scope of what NPHD had done before, and additional support was requested from BME Strategies.

How BME Strategies Responded

BME Strategies worked with the NPHD for six months to develop a five-year strategic plan. Professionally facilitated, 90-minute virtual meetings were held once per month with the NPHD Strategic Planning Team and the process evolved over three phases. The planning team represented knowledge and perspectives from across the health division. 

In the first phase, BME Strategies led conversations to develop NPHD’s mission, vision, and guiding principles and draft their strategic priorities and five-year goals. A regular feedback loop was established with the Needham Board of Health to provide updates and obtain input from the Board. 

During phase two, the five-year goals were finalized and one-year objectives were established to meet these goals. These objectives included specific deliverables, due dates, and task owners. BME Strategies conducted interviews with community and Town stakeholders, identified by the Strategic Planning Team, to gather feedback on the draft strategic plan. This was presented back to NPHD and incorporated into the final document. BME Strategies also held an in-person session with the NPHD to identify internal strengths and challenges, external trends, events, and other factors that may impact community health or the health department, and consideration of capacity for or enhancement of workforce development, communication, financial sustainability, and information management or technology. 

In phase three, BME Strategies finalized the PHAB-compliant strategic plan and has since been supporting NPHD in implementing the plan. 

The Results

At the conclusion of this engagement, BME Strategies provided the NPHD with a five-year strategic plan written to PHAB specifications that includes the following:

  • Mission, vision, and guiding principles 
  • Strategic priorities, five-year goals, and one-year objectives and deliverables
  • Internal strengths and challenges
  • External trends, events, and other factors that may impact community health or the health department
  • Capacity assessment of workforce development, communication, financial sustainability, and information management or technology
  • Linkages to the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP)
  • Implementation plan


Additionally, this process laid the foundation for the NPHD to establish their Performance Management System, the next step to meet PHAB accreditation. BME Strategies is working with NPHD to build out this system and guiding NPHD staff through the identification of strategies and activities to track towards the objectives from the strategic plan.

Overall Impact Statement

BME Strategies led the Needham Public Health Division through a department-wide strategic planning process and wrote a five-year strategic plan to meet PHAB requirements for accreditation.