The start of a new year is about more than just changing the calendar on the wall. It’s an opportunity to strategically plan your community association’s operations calendar for the next year to ensure you complete all necessary tasks and meet all compliance requirements. But where do you even start when it comes to setting a plan? The task can seem overwhelming and certainly a lot to take on if you are a volunteer board member. Here’s how to get started on a path to establishing a strategic operations calendar for your community:
Remind Your Board of the Mission Statement
The articles of incorporation for the association have already set this for you. Typically within the first page of the document, you will find a mission statement, which defines the core purpose for which the association (ie. corporate entity) was established. A typical purpose statement may read, “The specific and primary purpose for which the Corporation is formed is to provide community services and facilities for the general use, benefit and welfare of the Owners.” We often get side-tracked in rules enforcement and assessment collection and should routinely refresh ourselves on the purpose of the association and what we can do to successfully fulfill its intent—especially at the beginning of the year.
Add Milestones, Timelines and Dates to the Calendar
Include important dates related to each of the categories below in your operations calendar.
- Contractual Obligations
As we look to the future, it’s best to start with the basics. What contracts has the association entered into that that have renewal dates? Most likely within those service contracts there are dates and timelines the association has committed to for various tasks. In the example of a landscape contract those tasks might include pre-emergent application, pruning and irrigation start-up and shut-down. Populating these key dates and timelines on your calendar will help you work in tandem with your vendors, ensure the operations are running smoothly and understand the expectations.
- Meetings and Events
Including board and member meeting dates and social events on the calendar is an absolute must. Looking ahead gives everyone ample notice and time to plan for these key target dates. Be sure to check your governing documents as many communities have minimum meeting requirements, and planning for them on your calendar annually will ensure compliance with the provisions.
- Monthly, Quarterly and Annual Maintenance Targets
If your community has assets such as a pool or gates, there are key target dates for health inspections, permit renewal, preventative maintenance and seasonal opening and shut down procedures that are ideal for inclusion in your operations calendar. Taking the time to document these tasks can also serve as a checklist to ensure that nothing is missed and every part of your community remains operational.
- Project Planning
Your reserve study restoration and replacement schedule or even a capital improvement project will have timelines and steps that need to be taken for project completion. Set goals and schedule tasks on your calendar to achieve the milestones within your plan and to ensure ample time is allotted to successfully reach or even beat those key target dates on your schedule.
Getting To the Finish Line
There are many behind-the-scenes tasks a community manager and their team are responsible for to successfully complete a special event, board meeting, compliance inspection, landscape enhancement project and so on. An operations calendar can further be expanded beyond key target dates to include individual tasks such as creating a checklist for the management team to ensure operations run seamlessly.
In the end, a successful operations calendar visually displays how vendors, the board and the community management team are working together throughout the year to ensure the vision and the purpose of the association is aligned with the day-to-day management of the community’s assets and business structure. It’ll help you stay organized and achieve the most you can for your community.