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Chapter: Principles of Management : Planning

Planning process

The various steps involved in planning are given below



The various steps involved in planning are given below


a) Perception of Opportunities:


Although preceding actual planning and therefore not strictly a part of the planning process, awareness of an opportunity is the real starting point for planning. It includes a preliminary look at possible future opportunities and the ability to see them clearly and completely, knowledge of where we stand in the light of our strengths and weaknesses, an understanding of why we wish to solve uncertainties, and a vision of what we expect to gain. Setting realistic objectives depends on this awareness. Planning requires realistic diagnosis of the opportunity situation.


b) Establishing Objectives:


The first step in planning itself is to establish objectives for the entire enterprise and then for each subordinate unit. Objectives specifying the results expected indicate the end points of what is to be done, where the primary emphasis is to be placed, and what is to be accomplished by the network of strategies, policies, procedures, rules, budgets and programs.


Enterprise objectives should give direction to the nature of all major plans which, by reflecting these objectives, define the objectives of major departments. Major department objectives, in turn, control the objectives of subordinate departments, and so on down the line. The objectives of lesser departments will be better framed, however, if subdivision managers understand the overall enterprise objectives and the implied derivative goals and if they are given an opportunity to contribute their ideas to them and to the setting of their own goals.


c) Considering the Planning Premises:


Another logical step in planning is to establish, obtain agreement to utilize and disseminate critical planning premises. These are forecast data of a factual nature, applicable basic policies, and existing company plans. Premises, then, are planning assumptions – in other words, the expected environment of plans in operation. This step leads to one of the major principles of planning.


The more individuals charged with planning understand and agree to utilize consistent planning premises, the more coordinated enterprise planning will be.


Planning premises include far more than the usual basic forecasts of population, prices, costs, production, markets, and similar matters.


Because the future environment of plans is so complex, it would not be profitable or realistic to make assumptions about every detail of the future environment of a plan.


Since agreement to utilize a given set of premises is important to coordinate planning, it becomes a major responsibility of managers, starting with those at the top, to make sure that subordinate managers understand the premises upon which they are expected to plan. It is not unusual for chief executives in well- managed companies to force top managers with differing views, through group deliberation, to arrive at a set of major premises that all can accept.


d) Identification of alternatives:


Once the organizational objectives have been clearly stated and the planning premises have been developed, the manager should list as many available alternatives as possible for reaching those objectives.


The focus of this step is to search for and examine alternative courses of action, especially those not immediately apparent. There is seldom a plan for which reasonable alternatives do not exist, and quite often an alternative that is not obvious proves to be the best.


The more common problem is not finding alternatives, but reducing the number of alternatives so that the most promising may be analyzed. Even with mathematical techniques and the computer, there is a limit to the number of alternatives that may be examined. It is therefore usually necessary for the planner to reduce by preliminary examination the number of alternatives to those promising the most fruitful possibilities or by mathematically eliminating, through the process of approximation, the least promising ones.


e) Evaluation of alternatives


Having sought out alternative courses and examined their strong and weak points, the following step is to evaluate them by weighing the various factors in the light of premises and goals. One course may appear to be the most profitable but require a large cash outlay and a slow payback; another may be less profitable but involve less risk; still another may better suit the company in long–range objectives.


If the only objective were to examine profits in a certain business immediately, if the future were not uncertain, if cash position and capital availability were not worrisome, and if most factors could be reduced to definite data, this evaluation should be relatively easy. But typical planning is replete with uncertainties, problems of capital shortages, and intangible factors, and so evaluation is usually very difficult, even with relatively simple problems. A company may wish to enter a new product line primarily for purposes of prestige; the forecast of expected results may show a clear financial loss, but the question is still open as to whether the loss is worth the gain.

f) Choice of alternative plans


An evaluation of alternatives must include an evaluation of the premises on which the alternatives are based. A manager usually finds that some premises are unreasonable and can therefore be excluded from further consideration. This elimination process helps the manager determine which alternative would best accomplish organizational objectives.


g) Formulating of Supporting Plans


After decisions are made and plans are set, the final step to give them meaning is to numberize them by converting them to budgets. The overall budgets of an enterprise represent the sum total of income and expenses with resultant profit or surplus and budgets of major balance– sheet items such as cash and capital expenditures. Each department or program of a business or other enterprise can have its own budgets, usually of expenses and capital expenditures, which tie into the overall budget.


If this process is done well, budgets become a means of adding together the various plans and also important standards against which planning progress can be measured.


h) Establishing sequence of activities


Once plans that furnish the organization with both long-range and short-range direction have been developed, they must be implemented. Obviously, the organization can not directly benefit from planning process until this step is performed.


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