Plan Development & Resources

Planning Tools – Plan Development & Resources

Inform your planning activities with the tools, resources, and best practices showcased here. These include topics from getting started with a new planning effort, to understanding real-world conditions, to working with the public.

For information on tools related to specific types of plans or plan implementation visit our other planning tool pages.

Project Scoping

A clearly defined scope is essential to any planning project. It defines what the project seeks to do and ensures that time and resources are sufficiently allocated.

This Introduction to Project Planning and Development provides an overview of the project planning and development process and gives a step-by-step guide for each phase of the project development cycle.

This Project Scope Planning document describes the scoping practice overview, requirements, best practices, activities, and key terms and example templates related to these requirements.

MVRPC has developed a Decision Process for Tools and Initiatives outline and checklist for carrying out a project or implementing an initiative.

Public Engagement

Public engagement is a key part of the planning process. It is necessary for all stages of planning, from visioning to implementation. Good public engagement strategies are those which solicit meaningful input while also promoting project buy-in.

The Public Engagement: A Primer provides the foundational knowledge for meaningful public engagement.

The Basics of Public Engagement offers resources for local governments and officials for successful public engagement. It specifically addresses concerns for difficult situations in public engagement.

Principles of Local Government Public Engagement outlines the ten basic principles of effective public engagement for local governments.

This Public Participation Guide offers a step-by-step process for undertaking successful public participation efforts, including identifying the appropriate stakeholders, determining what kind of participation model to use, and how to use what you gather from public participation in a decision-making process.

This Community Engagement toolkit guides users through the community engagement process, including designing and implementing a public participation event.

This Community Engagement Toolkit guides provides insights on how to create a holistic community engagement process

Scenario Planning

Scenario planning is a process that allows planners to prepare for an uncertain future by exploring a range of conditions and possible outcomes. Scenario Planning is intended to enhance traditional planning practices by considering how a range of forces may influence the future.

The American Planning Association has a comprehensive Scenario Planning Knowledgebase that provides a range of resources for those looking to incorporate scenario planning into their planning activities.

Consortium for Scenario Planning is an association that seeks to improve the practice of scenario planning and broaden its use in communities of all sizes across disciplines.

Scenario planning can play an important role in the development of transportation plans. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has a number of resources related to scenario planning:  FHWA Scenario Planning | Scenario Planning Guidebook

Opening Access to Scenario Planning Tools report examines the current state of scenario planning and scenario planning tools that can help communities prepare for the future. 

Envision Tomorrow is an open-access scenario planning package that provides insights on how various policies, development decisions, and growth patterns could impact a community. 

Going Places is an integrated land use vision for the Miami Valley Region that used scenario planning to explore a range of possible futures.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

A GIS is an information system used to capture, store, assess, and display geospatial data. GIS is a fundamental resource and powerful tool for many planning activities.

To learn more about GIS, visit MVRPC’s GIS Basics page.

ESRI is an industry leader in GIS – read about their take on GIS.

Along with its own GIS resources, MVRPC offers links to other useful sites for GIS professionals: MVRPC GIS Resources.

MVRPC Regional GIS Program facilitates regional collaboration through data sharing, information exchange, and leveraging GIS investments made by various organizations.

Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) is a multi-disciplinary geospatial organization that provides professional education and training, a vibrant and connected community, advocacy for geospatial challenges and issues, and essential resources. 

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning helps organizations determine what they want to be in the future and how they will get there. Strategic planning involves developing a vision for the organization's future and determining the necessary goals, priorities, and action strategies to achieve that vision.

Washington State’s Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) is a nonprofit organization that helps local governments better serve their communities by providing legal and policy guidance on any topic. This page provides basic information about strategic planning, including examples of local strategic plans, vision statements, and mission statements.

The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) is an association of professional city and county managers and other employees who serve local governments dedicated to creating and supporting thriving communities throughout the world. ICMA offers a variety of resources on strategic planning, including webinars, articles and events.

BoardSource offers resources for nonprofit governance and board/staff leadership to increase board effectiveness and strengthen organizational impact. This page provides guides, tools, templates, and infographics on strategic planning.

Planning Decision Support Systems

Planning Decision Support Systems are computer-based programs that use robust data and analytics to explore and evaluate planning challenges and conditions.  Planning Decision Support Systems are used to aid the planning process by communicating information and creating solutions.

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy has prepared a book discussing planning support systems for cities and regions. The book’s introduction which provides an overview of the topic can be found here.   

ESRI’s ArcGIS Urban is a planning decision support system that helps planners and other stakeholders prepare for a more sustainable future by assessing scenarios and analyzing data.

MVRPC’s GIS resources can play an integral part in building a planning decision support system for your community.


For additional information, please contact Martin Kim, Director of Community & Regional Planning at

If you are using an e-reader and encounter problems with this page, please contact Martin Kim, Director of Community and Regional Planning at (937) 531-6533 for assistance.

Note: This site contains links to external websites that are not provided or maintained by or affiliated with MVRPC. MVRPC does not guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of any information on these external websites. A range of subject matter is covered under the planning tools resources. As such, MVRPC may not have individual expertise on each topic. The links provided on this page are for informational and educational purposes only. Last updated August 2024.