Planning - Term Overview

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In the organizational and business environment, planning, planning or planning is one of the initial stages of the administrative process, in which the fundamental features of the organization are determined (the mission and objectives, generally). That is, it's the stage in which the basic plans to be undertaken with the organization are established.

Planning is a fundamental decision-making stage to be able to trace the desired path towards the organization's objectives. For this, internal and external factors capable of influencing the achievement of the set goals, the elements of the current situation and the values that will govern the organization throughout the productive activity are taken into account.

There are different forms of planning, depending on the specific area to which the activities will be dedicated.

Planning is carried out according to the following fundamental steps:

- Exploring opportunities: It implies an evaluation of the context and the resources possessed, as a starting point to be able to start planning any type of process.
- Establishment of objectives: You cannot plan anything without first knowing what the goals are that we must achieve, which is perhaps the most important point of all planning, since the following will depend on it.
- Establishment of the premises: This means the evaluation of the available resources, the possible paths and the possible mechanisms to be used to obtain the objectives already outlined. At this stage, it's essential to take note of possible setbacks and eventualities.
- Evaluation of alternatives: Once the paths to be taken and the resources to be used have been considered, it's important to evaluate the possible alternatives, even those that at first glance don't come to mind, in order to have the most complete and comprehensive picture possible.
- Selection of the way forward: After a total evaluation of the possibilities, it's time to make decisions, that is, to adopt the plan established in the previous steps and begin to implement it, taking note of unforeseen events and providing feedback on decision-making in order to have control mechanisms.
- Formulation of derivative plans: The elaborated plan will inevitably require other smaller or parallel plans, which will emerge from the activity itself and which must be evaluated individually, repeating the scheme detailed up to here and whose resolution will bring us closer to the objectives of our main plan.

Importance of planning

Planning is a key stage in the development of any project, since it allows laying the foundations and designing the necessary strategies. It's about the very foundation of the project : the determination of its fundamental elements, such as procedures, values, objectives, etc., which constitute the very skeleton of the organization's activity.

Careful planning isn't necessarily a guarantee of success, but it's a solid starting point from which to anticipate inconveniences and avoid excessive improvisation, with all the risks that the latter implies.

Planning characteristics

Planning is characterized by four fundamental features:

- Unit: That is, being organic, addressing all the organization's plans at the same time and orchestrating them within a general plan that reflects the spirit and objectives of the organization. Coherence and cohesion between specific plans is essential for success.
- Continuity: Planning isn't something that is carried out only once, although many things will be defined after a first stage of organizational planning. But you will continually be planning, since you will continually be developing new activities, solving problems, expanding areas, etc. Every activity must always respond to a plan.
- Precision: Plans must always be precise, that is, be as vague and fuzzy as possible, so that when they are put into practice there are no gaps and holes that allow room for improvisation and error.
- Penetrability: Plans should not be seen as a straitjacket for the organization, but should have room to incorporate information obtained along the way and should be flexible enough to deal with unexpected situations without completely losing their spirit and direction. This includes consideration of non-hierarchical staff in decision making.

Types of planning

There are many ways to classify an organization's plans. For example, if we look at their development over time, we will distinguish short, medium and long term plans, depending on how long they require to be carried out: little, more or a lot.

In a similar way we can attend to the frequency of use of the plans, thus distinguishing between specific plans, of specific application; technical, linked to problem solving or improvement of basic aspects; or permanent, which are those that constitute the core of the organization and are constantly being carried out.

On the other hand, taking into account its nature, we can distinguish between:

- Missions: The plans to complete the basic tasks of any business or organization.
- Objectives: Goals and purposes to be specified in order to fulfill the missions.
- Strategies: Action programs that detail how the organization's resources and efforts are managed to achieve its particular ends.
- Policies: Organizational assumptions that define how to understand itself of the company, which in turn guide decision-making and management of resources.
- Procedures: Plans that determine the ideal way to face a situation or solve a problem, through chronological sequences of required actions.
- Programs: It's a set of rules, policies, procedures and steps to follow that guarantee compliance with certain actions, generally when they have already been carried out previously.
- Budgets: These are financial plans that detail the specific way in which the organization's resources will be used, always with a certain projective or ideal margin.

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