The purpose of business planning in the National Park Service is to improve the ability of parks to more clearly communicate their financial status with principal stakeholders. A business plan answers such questions as: What is the business of this park unit? How much money does this park need to be operated within appropriate standards? This plan demonstrates the functional responsibilities, operational standards, and financial picture of the park.
The business planning process is undertaken to accomplish three main tasks. First, it provides the park with a synopsis of its funding history. Second, it presents a clear, detailed picture of the state of current park operations and funding. Finally, it outlines park priorities and funding strategies.
A common methodology is applied by all parks developing business plans. Park activities are organized into five functional areas, which describe all areas of business for which a park is responsible. The functional areas are then further broken down into 34 programs. This allows the park to move beyond the traditional National Park Service method of reporting expenditures in terms of fund sources, and instead report expenditures in terms of activities. As a result, the park can communicate its financial situation more clearly to external audiences. Furthermore, using the same 34 program structure for all parks provides a needed measure of comparability across park units.
Completing the business plan process not only enables a park to produce a powerful communication tool, but also provides park management with financial and operational baseline knowledge for future decision making.
Business Plan: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Fiscal Year 2005 (pdf - 44 pages)
In concert with the Business Plan Process, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore undertook a comprehensive review of its current and projected operations -- a Core Operations Evaluation.