Blueprint Chesterfield: Building a Better Community

ARTICLE | May 10, 2016

Last year at the 2015 Transforming Local Government Conference, Chesterfield County presented Blueprint Chesterfield. Blueprint Chesterfield is the framework that organizes longstanding county practices related to budget and strategic planning into a more coordinated and understandable system. To that end, Blueprint also serves as a communications tool to facilitate more meaningful dialogue concerning the County’s strategic mission, both internally and with the community. Blueprint Chesterfield allows us to easily define why we do what we do.


Prior to Blueprint Chesterfield, planning and budgeting were generally separate parts, surrounded by complex processes that were difficult to communicate and comprehend. Individual parts of the existing system were good, but not working well together. At the end of FY2014, the County’s existing strategic plan was due to expire; which prompted a thorough review and creation of a new plan with new direction. In FY2013, Budget and Management initiated a comprehensive program and service inventory, which has since been fully integrated with the FY2017 budget as well as the County’s financial system. Through these updates and process reviews, opportunities to address a need which would better align the County’s priorities with resource allocation emerged within normal planning and budgeting cycles. Hence, Blueprint Chesterfield was born. Taking it one step further, in an effort to better recognize and communicate the priority needs of the County, the Five-Year Plan was developed. Through Blueprint, planning and budgeting are now part of the same conversation, under a uniform branding, delivered through a more user friendly system, focused on moving the needle on strategic goals while providing a long-range plan for the future.

Blueprint Chesterfield is fundamentally grounded in the principle of ‘not reinventing the wheel’ but rather reorganizing and establishing a framework to utilize our existing strengths. Pulling from a variety of resources, we have developed a system that works for us. Functionally speaking, our systems and processes are very similar to most other localities, we have reduced complexities through reorganizing and building a framework to simplify and ultimately plan for the future.

Like many jurisdictions, Chesterfield County has faced the reality of economic challenges. In response to the most recent economic downturn, FY2015 proved to be a vivacious year for budgeting. By harnessing the capabilities of Blueprint Chesterfield, the Five-Year Plan emerged. The Five-Year Plan provides a renewed sense of understanding and forward thinking as future plans develop. Through the Five-Year Plan, Chesterfield is pushing itself to identify and recognize the most pressing organizational needs. Knowing that all needs often cannot be met in a single fiscal year, the Five-Year Plan seeks to align departmental priorities with advancing the strategic plan, while also supporting clearly documented, data-driven analytics on why additional resource allocation is warranted.

We believe the foundational elements of Blueprint Chesterfield can be adapted by any organization, recognizing what they need and where they want to go. Simple step-by-step guidance materials are available; documenting the processes used for strategic planning, development of division and department priorities, program definitions and budget processes.

Last year, Chesterfield presented a case study at TLG based on the category of organizational design and provided a comprehensive overview of the framework and creation of the Blueprint Chesterfield system. This year we’re back with Chapter 2 and we have real outcomes. We want to share what we’ve learned, what’s working and how this can work for others. While we believe that we have created a unique system, we also strongly believe that others can do this too and we’re excited to continue to share our story.

Don’t forget to register for TLG by clicking here. Receive a 10% discount if you register by May 13! If you wat to learn more about the conference, including keynote presenters, other case studies, special innovation tours, special events, and more, visit the conference website.  

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