The 4 Types of Planning
(i) Operational Planning
“Operational plans are about how things need to happen,” motivational leadership speaker Mack Story said at LinkedIn. “Guidelines of how to accomplish the mission are set.”
This type of planning typically describes the day-to-day running of the company. Operational plans are often described as single use plans or ongoing plans. Single use plans are created for events and activities with a single occurrence (such as a single marketing campaign). Ongoing plans include policies for approaching problems, rules for specific regulations and procedures for a step-by-step process for accomplishing particular objectives.
(ii) Strategic Planning
“Strategic plans are all about why things need to happen,” Story said. “It’s big picture, long-term thinking. It starts at the highest level with defining a mission and casting a vision.”
Strategic planning includes a high-level overview of the entire business. It’s the foundational basis of the organization and will dictate long-term decisions. The scope of strategic planning can be anywhere from the next two years to the next 10 years. Important components of a strategic plan are vision, mission and values.
(iii) Tactical Planning
“Tactical plans are about what is going to happen,” Story said. “Basically at the tactical level, there are many focused, specific, and short-term plans, where the actual work is being done, that support the high-level strategic plans.”
Tactical planning supports strategic planning. It includes tactics that the organization plans to use to achieve what’s outlined in the strategic plan. Often, the scope is less than one year and breaks down the strategic plan into actionable chunks. Tactical planning is different from operational planning in that tactical plans ask specific questions about what needs to happen to accomplish a strategic goal; operational plans ask how the organization will generally do something to accomplish the company’s mission.
(iv) Contingency Planning
Contingency plans are made when something unexpected happens or when something needs to be changed. Business experts sometimes refer to these plans as a special type of planning.
Contingency planning can be helpful in circumstances that call for a change. Although managers should anticipate changes when engaged in any of the primary types of planning, contingency planning is essential in moments when changes can’t be foreseen. As the business world becomes more complicated, contingency planning becomes more important to engage in and understand.
Process of Planning
1. Recognizing Need for Action
An important part of the planning process is to be aware of the business opportunities in the firm’s external environment as well as within the firm. Once such opportunities get recognized the managers can recognize the actions that need to be taken to realize them. A realistic look must be taken at the prospect of these new opportunities and a SWOT analysis should be done.
Say for example the government plans on promoting cottage industries in semi-urban areas. A firm can look to explore this opportunity.
2. Setting Objectives
This is the second and perhaps the most important step of the planning process. Here we establish the objectives for the whole organization and also individual departments. Organizational objectives provide a general direction, objectives of departments will be more planned and detailed.
Objectives can be long term and short term as well. They indicate the end result the company wishes to achieve. So objectives will percolate down from the managers and will also guide and push the employees in the correct direction.
3. Developing Premises
Planning is always done keeping the future in mind, however, the future is always uncertain. So in the function of management certain assumptions will have to be made. These assumptions are the premises. Such assumptions are made in form of forecasts, existing plans, past policies etc.
These planning premises are also of two types – internal and external. External assumptions deal with factors such as political environment, social environment, advancement of technology, competition, government policies etc. Internal assumptions deal with policies, availability of resources, quality of management etc.
These assumptions being made should be uniform across the organization. All managers should be aware of these premises and should agree with them.
4. Identifying Alternatives
The fourth step of the planning process is to identify the alternatives available to the managers. There is no one way to achieve the objectives of the firm, there is a multitude of choices. All of these alternative courses should be identified. There must be options available to the manager.
Maybe he chooses an innovative alternative hoping for more efficient results. If he does not want to experiment he will stick to the more routine course of action. The problem with this step is not finding the alternatives but narrowing them down to a reasonable amount of choices so all of them can be thoroughly evaluated.
5. Examining Alternate Course of Action
The next step of the planning process is to evaluate and closely examine each of the alternative plans. Every option will go through an examination where all there pros and cons will be weighed. The alternative plans need to be evaluated in the light of the organizational objectives.
For example, if it is a financial plan. Then it that case its risk-return evaluation will be done. Detailed calculation and analysis are done to ensure that the plan is capable of achieving the objectives in the best and most efficient manner possible.
6. Selecting the Alternative
Finally, we reach the decision making stage of the planning process. Now the best and most feasible plan will be chosen to be implemented. The ideal plan is the most profitable one with the least amount of negative consequences and is also adaptable to dynamic situations.
The choice is obviously based on scientific analysis and mathematical equations. But a managers intuition and experience should also play a big part in this decision. Sometimes a few different aspects of different plans are combined to come up with the one ideal plan.
7. Formulating Supporting Plan
Once you have chosen the plan to be implemented, managers will have to come up with one or more supporting plans. These secondary plans help with the implementation of the main plan. For example plans to hire more people, train personnel, expand the office etc. are supporting plans for the main plan of launching a new product
8. Implementation of the Plan
And finally, we come to the last step of the planning process, implementation of the plan. This is when all the other functions of management come into play and the plan is put into action to achieve the objectives of the organization. The tools required for such implementation involve the types of plans- procedures, policies, budgets, rules, standards etc.
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