Planning can be defined as “thinking in advance what is to be done, when it is to be done, how it is to be done and by whom it should be done”. In simple words we can say, planning bridges the gap between where we are standing today and where we want to reach.
Planning involves setting objectives and deciding in advance the appropriate course of action to achieve these objectives so we can also define planning as setting up of objectives and targets and formulating an action plan to achieve them.
Another important ingredient of planning is time. Plans are always developed for a fixed time period as no business can go on planning endlessly.
Keeping in mind the time dimension we can define planning as “Setting objectives for a given time period, formulating various courses of action to achieve them and then selecting the best possible alternative from the different courses of actions”.
Objective of planning
- Time-Related Objectives
One type of objective includes a time factor. These objectives are short-term, medium-term or long-term, ranging from one month to several years. Planning that includes short-term objectives specifies what immediate results are expected from actions currently in progress. These objectives focus on day-to-day activities.
Medium-term objectives are results that influence the annual budgets, reports and strategies. They deal with monthly action plans. Long-term objectives look at results the company needs to meet its overall goals. They focus on results from yearly reviews. Planning specifies time-related objectives as an overall framework for plan implementation.
- Monitoring Routine Objectives
Some objectives don’t have a specific time frame but deal with expected results from routine, continuous activities. Normal production levels translate into routine objectives. Monitoring safety to prevent the accident rate from rising involves routine objectives. Such objectives typically remain at a constant rate.
Management monitors routine objectives for deviations from the norm and to institute corrective action if necessary. Planning specifies routine objectives and assumes the company will meet them as it has in the past.
- Development Objectives for New Initiatives
While time-related objectives deal with normal activities within a time frame and routine objectives deal with regular activities, development objectives result from new initiatives. External change imposed on a business or internal changes motivated by new goals result in planning for new development. Such plans specify new activities and estimate the results. These desired results translate into objectives at the various organizational levels.
Since the activities are new, the objectives may not be realistic and managers have to be ready to make adjustments to this type of objective.