Definition of Planning
“Planning is the process of setting goals, developing strategies, and outlining tasks and schedules to accomplish the goals.”
Synonyms: plan, blueprint, design, project, scheme, strategy
Steps Involved in Planning
Planning is a process which embraces a number of steps to be taken. Planning is an intellectual exercise and a conscious determination of courses of action. Therefore, it requires courses of action. The planning process is valid for one organization and for one plan, may not be valid for other organizations or for all types of plans, because various factors that go into planning process may differ from organization to organization or from plan to plan. For example, planning process for a large organization may not be the same for a small organization. However, the major steps involved in the planning process of a major organization or enterprise are as follows:
1. Establishing objectives
The first and primary step in planning process is the establishment of planning objectives or goals. Definite objectives, in fact, speak categorically about what is to be done, where to place the initial emphasis and the things to be accomplished by the network of policies, procedures, budgets and programs, the lack of which would invariably result in either faulty or ineffective planning.
It needs mentioning in this connection that objectives must be understandable and rational to make planning effective. Because the major objective, in all enterprise, needs be translated into derivative objective, accomplishment of enterprise objective needs a concrete endeavor of all the departments.
2. Establishment of Planning Premises
Planning premises are assumptions about the future understanding of the expected situations. These are the conditions under which planning activities are to be undertaken. These premises may be internal or external. Internal premises are internal variables that affect the planning. These include organizational polices, various resources and the ability of the organization to withstand the environmental pressure. External premises include all factors in task environment like political, social technological, competitors’ plans and actions, government policies, market conditions. Both internal factors should be considered in formulating plans. At the top level mainly external premises are considered. As one moves downward, internal premises gain importance.
3. Determining Alternative Courses
The next logical step in planning is to determine and evaluate alternative courses of action. It may be mentioned that there can hardly be any occasion when there are no alternatives. And it is most likely that alternatives properly assessed may prove worthy and meaningful. As a matter of fact, it is imperative that alternative courses of action must be developed before deciding upon the exact plan.
4. Evaluation of Alternatives
Having sought out the available alternatives along with their strong and weak points, planners are required to evaluate the alternatives giving due weight-age to various factors involved, for one alternative may appear to be most profitable involving heavy cash outlay whereas the other less profitable but involve least risk. Likewise, another course of action may be found contributing significantly to the company’s long-range objectives although immediate expectations are likely to go unfulfilled.
Evidently, evaluation of alternative is a must to arrive at a decision. Otherwise, it would be difficult to choose the best course of action in the perspective of company needs and resources as well as objectives laid down.
5. Selecting a Course of Action
The fifth step in planning is selecting a course of action from among alternatives. In fact, it is the point of decision-making-deciding upon the plan to be adopted for accomplishing the enterprise objectives.
6. Formulating Derivative Plans
To make any planning process complete the final step is to formulate derivative plans to give effect to and support the basic plan. For example, if Indian Airlines decide to run Jumbo Jets between Delhi an Patna, obliviously, a number of derivative plans have to be framed to support the decision, e.g., a staffing plan, operating plans for fueling, maintenance, stores purchase, etc. In other words, plans do not accomplish themselves. They require to be broken down into supporting plans. Each manager and department of the organization is to contribute to the accomplishment of the master plan on the basis of the derivative plans.
7. Establishing Sequence of Activities
Timing a sequence of activities is determined after formulating basic and derivative plans, so that plans may be put into action. Timing is an essential consideration in planning. It gives practical shape and concrete form to the programs. The starting and finishing times are fixed for each piece of work, so as to indicate when the within what time that work is to be commenced and completed. Bad timing of programs results in their failure. To maintain a symmetry of performance and a smooth flow of work, the sequence of operation shaped be arranged carefully by giving priorities to some work in preference to others. Under sequence it should be decided as to who will don what and at what time.
8. Feedback or Follow-up Action
Formulating plans and chalking out of programs are not sufficient, unless follow-up action is provided to see that plans so prepared and programs chalked out are being carried out in accordance with the plan and to see whether these are not kept in cold storage. It is also required to see whether the plan is working well in the present situation. If conditions have changed, the plan current plan has become outdated or inoperative it should be replaced by another plan. A regular follow-up is necessary and desirable from effective implementation and accomplishment of tasks assigned.
The plan should be communicated to all persons concerned in the organization. Its objectives and course of action must be clearly defined leaving no ambiguity in the minds of those who are responsible for its execution. Planning is effective only when the persons involved work in a team spirit and all are committed to the objectives, policies, programs, strategies envisaged in the plan.