Priority Based Business Planning and Budgeting

Priority based business planning and budgeting in progress

Strathcona County is working with the Center for Priority Based Budgeting (CPBB) to transition to priority based business planning and budgeting.

CPBB is a Denver, Colorado-based organization focused on providing technical and advisory services to assist governments and other agencies achieve fiscal health and wellness through priority based budgeting. The company has implemented their approach to priority based budgeting in 90+ organizations across the United States and Canada. Locally, the City of Edmonton and the Alberta Ministry of Health have worked with CPBB.

Priority based business planning and budgeting will result in Strathcona County being more proactive, strategic and effective in program and service delivery. The process will provide valuable information that supports decision-making by directors and managers, enabling them to allocate or reallocate resources, based on each program or resource request’s alignment to strategic and corporate priorities. It can also be used by the organization to set targets and determine how resources are aligned, based on priorities.

On April 19, 2016, the Center for Priority Based Budgeting presented to Priorities Committee. More information on that presentation can be found here. 


The methodology involved in implementation of CPBB’s approach to priority based budgeting can be broken out into five distinct steps:


Results are the fundamental reason we exist, or what we are in business to do. Council’s approved strategic plan served as an effective foundation for results. We have also distinguished between community-oriented results, which help define why programs are offered to the community, and governance-oriented results, which help define why internally focused programs are offered by support functions, such as Finance or Human Resources.


Results maps have been created that detail the factors influencing the results the organization is in business to achieve. Again, our strategic plan provides the basis for the result maps with refinement through Council.


Departments have been using a program inventory process to clarify the programs they provide (what exactly we do), the key characteristics of each program, and the cost. It is critical to find the right level of detail when identifying programs. Strathcona County’s program inventory has 319 programs, which will form the basis of discussion for prioritizing, based on their influence on results maps identified in Step 2.


This fall, individual programs will be scored relative to their influence on achieving the organization’s stated results and key attributes. Programs will first be assigned a score against results by the individual department overseeing the programs. A formalized objective peer review authentication process will follow, to validate (or question) the department’s belief of their programs relevance to achieving community or organizational results.


Once all programs have been scored and their relative value determined, departments will be able to see their department programs in order of highest priority (those programs most relevant to achieving results) to lower priority (those programs less relevant to achieving results).

The project team expects to be finished with the priority based budget project work in early 2016 so the information can be used for 2017 budget development at the department level.

Business Plan and Budget Implementation (BPBI) Project 

An organization-wide review, In Pursuit of Excellence, looked at County operations, procedures and structure, and highlighted opportunities to improve service delivery and organizational effectiveness.

To date, Council and Administration have developed a strategic plan and completed a 4E (efficient, effective, equitable and economical) review(26.4 MB)   of business plan and budget processes. Strathcona County undertook the review, recognizing the volume of effort required by these processes, and the impact both the process and results have on internal and external stakeholders. The review identified optimal business planning and budget processes and methodologies that will:

  • Help meet the County’s service delivery and fiscal objectives
  • Add value, incorporate best practice
  • Be less onerous and time consuming than current practice
  • Complement the Economic Sustainability Framework implementation project
  • Increase accountability and transparency through  performance measurement reporting.Since that time, the County has embarked on processes (see diagram below) to implement the recommendations arising from the 4E review.
  • Costs associated with this effort will be used to develop reporting tools and software, determine service levels and expectations, and to hire dedicated staff.


Planning pieces come together like a puzzle

When complete in 2015/16, these processes will simplify and strengthen business planning and budgeting at Strathcona County, providing focus and direction to all of the County’s activities.



Last updated: Friday, July 23, 2021
Page ID: 43646