We explain what planning is, and what its objectives and methodologies are. In addition, we explore its characteristics, classification, and processes.
What is planning?
Planning is a model or plan which is used as a guide to implement projects and achieve goals. It is a detailed list of the processes, resources, and time required to solve a certain problem or meet business objectives.
For example: a clothing manufacturing company plans the budget for the production of the upcoming winter collection. It must consider raw materials, delivery deadlines, production services, hand labor, quality control, logistics, sales team and advertising. The list of tasks allows coordinating their execution on time so that objectives are met.
- See also: Management control
What is the purpose of planning?
Planning is key to the success of both a work team and an organization, because it allows for the coordinated and orderly completion of multiple processes and tasks to meet the objectives in the agreed time.
- Explore next: Productivity
Steps of planning
Planning can be carried out by means of various tools and techniques that help draw up a chronological list of resources and strategies.
For example: With the help of handwritten outlines and notes or specialized software programs, it is possible to accurately process information, manage projects, coordinate work teams, among many other tasks.
Regardless of the tool used, the suggested steps of planning are:
- Analyze the situation. It involves fully understanding the current situation and needs, as well as identifying potential problems. Misinterpretation of the project may result in problems during the planning process.
- Define objectives. It is the purpose or reason of the project. Besides analyzing the situation, it is important to review the objective and understand it clearly.
- Develop an action plan. It means carrying out the specific actions necessary for achieving the objective, which must be assigned to each responsible person or team, as appropriate.
- Detail necessary resources. It consists of drawing up a list of all the resources (material and human) that will be required to develop the action plan. It may be accompanied by an estimate of expenses based on the budget to assess and define which resources and inputs are available to be allocated and which will have to be acquired.
- Execute plan. It is the actual work of the staff, suppliers, and project stakeholders who have been assigned the tasks in the action plan.
- Monitor and evaluate. It consists of monitoring and evaluating whether the plan is progressing as expected. In the event of delays or problems in the execution of the plan, it is important to meet the teams involved to find a solution.
Types of planning
The main types of planning are:
- Strategic planning. It consists of an integral business plan that allows an organization to operate. The execution of the strategic planning depends on management decision-making, and it considers financial aspects, mission and vision, long-term objectives and company structure.
For example: A coffee-selling company has the mission to indulge the customers at their stores in a coffee experience, and not just satisfy the desire for a drink. Through various stimuli, such as ambiance, music, aromas and the food served, the company offers a competitive advantage that goes beyond the product it offers.
- Tactical planning. It involves reviewing general goals to define specific objectives. Its execution depends on each responsible person or area in the organization, who must fulfill their respective tasks and roles.
For example: A company has a medium-term goal to increase sales by 10% in three months. The tactical planning of the marketing department will be to carry out a promotional campaign; the sales team's plan in turn will be to organize a product demonstration event, and the press team's plan will be to run an informational campaign involving professionals and influencers. Each area will carry out its own tactical planning to meet a specific objective, which is aligned with the organization's overall objective.
- Operational planning. It consists of a series of basic and fundamental actions to ensure the performance of an organization or project in the short or medium term. Operational planning focuses on available resources and their allocation, as well as on the tasks necessary to reach objectives. The managers of each area, who contribute to the implementation and control of an operational plan, are in charge of overseeing it.
For example: A factory’s workers are divided into three 8-hour shifts, as factory machines run 24/7. Each worker must respect the operational plan defined for each shift in order to optimize time and available resources. The night shift has fewer employees than the morning and afternoon shifts, so safety and conflict resolution protocols are different.
- Regulatory planning. It consists of a series of rules and regulations that an organization’s management establishes during a given period to achieve its objectives.
For example: During a period of severe epidemics, a company may take preventive and precautionary measures that impact on the normal development of the organization, such as restricted access to certain areas, the use of protective clothing, disposable medical supplies and the implementation of remote work for its employees.
Importance of planning
Planning allows for maintaining a balance between the tasks that a company is able to coordinate and the unforeseen issues or problems that may arise beyond its control, which the company must tackle as they interfere with its activity.
Both the analysis of the current situation of an organization to clearly understand its strengths and areas of improvement, as well as the review of objectives and strategies to achieve them are parts of the planning process that allow for improved company management, even when unforeseeable events may arise. Planning is key, as it contributes to effective decision-making.
- Flores, M. C., & Gómez, D. O. (2008). Algunos modelos de planeación. Revista Ciencia Administrativa, 34m. https://scholar.google.com.
- Bigelow, S. & Pratt, M. (2022). Strategic planning. https://www.techtarget.com.
- Eye on tech (2022). 5 steps of strategic planning (video). https://www.youtube.com.
- Kadhem, F. (2020). Types of planning: strategic, tactical, operational and normative. https://www.linkedin.com.