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Planning is the primary function of management. Planning means deciding in advance what, when, where, how and who is to do a given task for the achievement of predetermined goals. It means looking ahead and setting the future course of action. Thus, planning can be defined as a process of setting goals and choosing the suitable means to achieve the definite goals. It is more thinking before doing. Management in terms means to manage people in right manner to achieve the set goals at the given time. Therefore, planning first of all is the basic managerial function that means if a manager in an organization fails to plan, means and ends the operation of any business is impossible.
For a business to be established and even to run smoothly, the manager in an organization has to develop and define the goals and take necessary steps to ensure these goals are achieved. Planning bridges gap between from where we are to where we want to go. Planning is a mental process which covers assessment of goals, determination of future course of actions and the selection of best course of action among the available alternatives. It can be termed as a blue print for any action to be conducted near future.
For a manager, the planning is the most essential managerial function because without the presence of planning in day to day operation of a business all other managerial function becomes mere actively non producing.
In the words of M.E. Hurley, "planning is deciding in advance what is to be done. It involves the selection of objectives, policies, procedure and programs, from among alternatives."
According to Stephen P. Robbins, "Planning is deciding in advance what to do, how to do it, when to do it and who is to do it. It provides the ends to be achieved."
Giffion says that, "Planning means setting an organizational goals and deciding how best to achieve them."
In conclusion, planning can be more suitably defined as future concerned goal oriented and is predetermined course of action.
The success of a business depends upon the effective planning of an organization. Moreover, the fore sightness of the manager in a business takes the organization in this competitive business environment. Therefore, planning is the most important basic function in day to day operation of business, without planning, the organization cannot run smoothly because even to mange man, machine, and capital it needs effective planning without it the business can never achieve its set goals. Planning has its own importance in the field of business, rather being apart from business, it first of all reduces uncertainty about future. This means planning is determining future course of action in advance. It will definitely work on changing business environment and study the future opportunity and threats. It forecast those things in advance which help to reduce by the time of business course.
Ever changing, nature of people and other anticipation of future events may cause difficulties in the operation of business. But with the effective planning of all those future anticipation, a manager can run the business smoothly in future course of time. Planning is deciding in advance what to do, when to do and how to do to achieve the organizational goals in specific period of time. Therefore, it reduces unwanted, irrational activity in an organization. It maintains order and avoids random activity. It also avoids repetition of works and overlapping efforts in an organization.
For a business operation, planning plays an important role, as a basic managerial function, it facilitates other managerial functions like, controlling, organizing, leading, staffing etc. planning provides a standard which can be measure the actual performance of the personnel in an organization and if any deviation occurs is then controlled and corrected.
Planning is based on systematic and careful forecast. Therefore it helps to discover new opportunities in the business environment. This will ensures an orderly progress of a business. Even the efficiency of the personnel depends upon proper and effective planning. Planning serves as a motivational tool.
Since an organization is established to achieve the common organizational goals and planning focuses on the objectives and direct towards the achievement of those goals. It also eliminates aimless activities in an organization. Therefore, with the selection of best course of action among the various alternatives, it also reduces the cost and all types of waste. It helps in optimum utilization of available recourses. It leads to efficient and economical operations.
Therefore, for the successful operation of a business effective and efficient planning is more essential. It increases efficiency of the organization and timely completion of tasks at minimum cost.
The operation of business cannot be in haphazard manner. It has to be in systematic and in proper manner. Planning being a part and a task for the operation of business it helps in facilitating the environmental uncertainty. It reduces the future uncertainty, instability and changing environment. Planning itself has different style and practices. It can vary from organization to organization. Here we discuss strategic planning and operational planning.
The term strategy has been adapted from war (army) and is used in business activities to reflect the overall mission and goals of an organization. A strategy is unified, comprehensive, and integrated ensuring the basic goals of organization to be achieved. Strategic planning refers to the long term organizational mission or, purpose or objectives. The top level manager is responsible to perform and make strategic plans of the organization. The study of external and internal business environment, outlining available resources, its priorities to the organization helps the manager to make a strategic goal. Since it is long term in nature, it specifies action to be taken from five to ten years into the future. Long term business plan are very mush uncertain and it needs high level of assumption and deep study. Therefore a manager has to make many assumptions regarding the available opportunity and the business threat in the business environment. The careful analysis of external environment helps to make proper strategic plan and its implementation. Strategic planning facilitates environmental scanning. It provides a framework regarding near future task in systematic way. Strategic planning provides direction to the company and also acts as a indicator of growth that can be achieved in near future. Strategic planning can be clearer with its various approaches:
(Defining the mission of the organization)
(Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and threat)
(Formulation of strategies)
(Implementation of strategies)
(Evaluation of result)
Similarly, operational planning is also a form of planning in an organization which helps to achieve the strategic goals in long run. Operational planning is short term planning procedure. It is also a basic planning which helps to set a frame work further business planning. It is day to day planning which focuses on operational goals to achieve tactical goals. Tactical goals are that kind of business objectives which are developed for achieving and implementing specific parts of strategic plans. It alternatively means operations planning are performed for the achievement of strategic goals in long run. Operational plans mainly focus on day to day business activities. Therefore, if the strategic plan ends in five years then, five different operational planning are needed each consecutive year for its attainment. It is performed by lower level managers and guides department managers for its day to day operations. Operational planning should contain following:
Clear objectives of the organization
Activities to be performed
Allocation of resources
It is long term planning which refers the formulation of basic organizational mission, policies and objectives to be achieved.
Operational planning is of short term in nature.
Level of management
Top level management, BoD are involved in making strategic plans
Lower level managers who perform day to day operations are liable for making operational planning.
Degree of detail
Degree of Uncertainty
Strategic plans mainly focus on future activities therefore it is generally based on future forecast so the degree of uncertainty is higher.
It is generally based on past performance of the organization hence, it is less uncertain.