Planning For A CIS

Needs assessment

When considering starting a CIS, you need to conduct both an internal and external needs assessment. The more you understand about your audience, your organization, your resources, and your challenges, the better.


Take a look at our Needs Assessment Tool in the CIS Toolbox for guidance in determining the needs of your community.

Who in your community needs cancer information?

Who in your community are you aiming to serve? The following questions may help you with this.

  • What is the greatest need in your community in terms of cancer information?
  • Are you intending to respond to questions about warning signs of cancer, early detection and cancer prevention or only questions from people who have been diagnosed with cancer?
  • Will you be responding to relatives and friends of cancer patients, or just patients themselves?
  • Will you be providing services for health professionals as well as the lay public?
  • Will you be responding to questions from students or researchers?

Channels of communication 

man on phoneHow do members of your community most commonly access information? What forms of technology do they have access too?

  • Telephone (landline).
  • Mobile (cell) phone.
  • Text via mobile phone.
  • Smartphone or tablet.
  • Personal Computer.

Advisory Committees

Many organizations with an established Cancer Information Service emphasize the need for an advisory committee. This committee can help fulfill many purposes such as:

  • determining how to position the CIS within the organization or other sources of cancer information
  • advising and acting on political issues
  • helping conduct your needs assessment

Choose the members of your advisory committee carefully; invite people who have expertise and can help you determine the kind and scope of your service. Organizations that may be your collaborators can also play an effective role on your advisory committee.


Development of a Strategic Plan

strategic planningA strategic plan helps an organization make decisions that build on results. It’s a systematic effort to shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and why it does it. It provides long-range direction (3-5 year time frame) and helps to set priorities.

There are seven core elements in a strategic plan:

  1. Mission Statement: organization’s intentions, vision of the future, core values. (Example – the Canadian Cancer Society’s mission and values page)
  2. Goals and objectives: key indicators of what the program seeks to achieve.
  3. Limits and boundaries of the service you offer.
  4. Strategies: actions planned to reach the goals and objectives.
  5. Annual performance goals: their relationship to overall goals and objectives.
  6. External and internal factors: identification of key trends and stakeholders.
  7. Program evaluation: indication of the program’s success, key indicators of performance.

Check out our sample strategic plan in the CIS Toolbox to see what some of these core elements look like on paper

We have also included the above link to the mission statement of the Canadian Cancer Society as an example to use when drafting your own mission statement. Remember that you can find similar sample documents as well as downloadable copies of resources such as the Assessment Tool in the CIS Toolbox section of our website.



budgetThe costs of running a CIS vary. It depends on many factors, such as:

  • the scope of service
  • hours of operation
  • number of offices, telephone lines, and calls
  • staff and supervisory patterns; and evaluation costs

Some of the items that need to be included in a budget are telecommunications, staffing, resources, supplies, training, and promotion expenses. Most CIS services find that their expenses fall in three categories:

  1. Operations: The operating costs of the CIS program usually account for 65% to 85% of the budget; of this amount, 70% to 75% is salaries for direct staff.
  2. Management of service. Approximately 20% to 30% percent of budget is spent to manage the service.
  3. Infrastructure. The infrastructure costs account for 5% to 10% percent of the budget.