Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Using Trend Analysis For Strategic Planning

This article was published as part of a strategic plan for Grossmont College. By analyzing trends in various sectors, the authors were able to produce forecasts about the likely impact of changes on the community and the College. This analysis was then used by college administrators to create a strategic plan.

The authors of this article used trend analysis to analyze the state of California's economics, politics, education, energy and transportation, and technology.

The article gives some analysis about current trends related to California and national economics, but it also lays out a plan for conducting further analysis for trends that were not yet evident at the time of publication.  The article identified several indicators of economic trends, and placed importance on identifying trends in economic policies of local, state and federal governments. By analyzing these trends, they hoped to discover how these trends will effect the College and its surrounding community. The authors' plan is to continue updating the trend analysis every four months, and identified 12 questions to focus on over the course of the strategic plan (2010-2016).

For each sector, the articles identify several trends, such as "The number of students needing basic courses, English language skills and employment readiness is increasing. This trend will continue for the next three to five years." The article's analysis could be improved with the use of words of estimative probability (WEPs), which is considered a best practice for creating forecasts, but the authors cite many pieces of evidence explaining

Implementing a system of conducting regular trend analysis seems to be a good method of creating forecasts to help educational institutions make strategic decisions.  This institution appears to understand the value of economic trend analysis, and it would be interesting to see how Grossmont College institutes changes based on the identified trends.


Grossmont College. "Grossmont College strategic plan 2010-2017: Appendix C Trend Analysis." Retrieved from


  1. What does Grossmont College consider the most important trends for them in California? Is there any counterargument for why these trends might change over the years or are the trends given as continuing "in perpetuity?" If this is the case, there is considerable risk to making very inaccurate estimates by merely stating current facts and then projecting them into the future. An example is an trend analysis I studied several years ago. Based on a two year trend, the study predicted that a particular company would fail by 2010. The company is currently rather profitable and increased its workforce by 200 workers from 2008 to 2011.

  2. did their forecasts and predictions prove accurate? i think the is kind of planning is very valuable but can be just plain wrong. i'd like to know their success rate and how their expectations changed over the process

  3. I think a major key in this and most of the studies are the 'indicators.' so much of your analysis is predicated on which factors that are deemed sufficiently important. Did the study go into any detail about the process of choosing indicators? My article did not discuss this, I wasn't sure if this is a common theme or not.

  4. They did not go into much detail about their indicators, and I think that it's very possible Sam is right. They mentioned vague plans of continuing to analyze trends every three months, but they did not go into detail about their methods and processes.

    I don't know how much of their predictions turned out to be true, but hopefully the college will put out an updated strategic plan that sheds light on their forecasting successes and/or failures. Whether or not this specific college got it right, I think that it's a great idea for educational institutions to do this type of analysis.