This article throws light upon the ten important features of a sound plan. The features are: 1. Integration 2. Market Research 3. Economy/Financial Constraints 4. Co-Ordination 5. Consistent 6. Flexible 7. Acceptable 8. Participative 9. Based on Planning Premises 10. Effective Communication System.
Feature # 1. Integration:
A good plan should integrate the short-term requirements of the firm with its long-term requirements. Plans must be oriented towards the achievement of overall organisational goals. Short-term plans should contribute to long-term plans. They should set direction for desired course of action for achieving the long-term plan.
Feature # 2. Market Research:
Planners must conduct a thorough market research before framing plans. “What potential customers say they are going to do and what they end up doing may be two different things.” Plans should, therefore, forecast the market requirements through a well conducted market research.
Feature # 3. Economy/Financial Constraints:
A plan which relies too heavily on financial resources may turn out to be a failure if the revenues (as expected) do not arise. Once the budgetary balance is disturbed, subsequent operations may get upset as plan is a sequence of cause and effect relationship. If it becomes imperfect, it can lead to cumulative problems. Future costs and benefits should be carefully analysed while designing the organisational plans.
Feature # 4. Co-Ordination:
A sound plan should co-ordinate the working of all functional areas. If functional plans (or departmental plans) are not synchronized with the overall organisational plans, the organisation will fail to achieve its goals. The co-ordination should aim to achieve the long-term objectives along the short and medium-term objectives in the hierarchy of objectives.
Objectives at the lower level should contribute to objectives at the higher level and there should be clear direction for courses of action to be taken to achieve objectives at various levels. Actions and their outcomes should be well co-ordinated to achieve the long- term objectives.
Feature # 5. Consistent:
Plans should be consistent in terms of adaptability to environmental factors and organisational resources. They should be followed for a fairly long period of time. It is important that the plans are acceptable to those who frame them and also those who implement them. Frequent alterations in plans by higher levels can make their implementation ineffective at lower levels.
Feature # 6. Flexible:
Though consistent, plans should adjust (flexible) to the environmental changes. The fact that plans are made to achieve a goal in future and future being uncertain, managers should review the plans from time to time and make necessary changes in accordance with the requirement of the environment. There should be provisions to meet unforeseen circumstances rather than abandoning the plans if such situations occur.
Feature # 7. Acceptable:
Best laid plans may turn out to be failures if they are not implemented properly. It is important, therefore, that plans are acceptable not only to those who frame them but also to those who implement them.
Feature # 8. Participative:
The acceptability of plans increases if subordinates participate in the planning process. Many organisations follow the principle of participation as it offers the merits of group decision-making. Managers obtain ideas/suggestions from subordinates of different departments at different levels and finalize the plans.
The practice of participative planning promotes good ideas and creates personal obligation on the part of managers to retain control over the planning activities. Participation also ensures commitment, loyalty and dedication to the planned activities.
Since plans achieve goals in future, they should be based on accurate forecasts and predictions about future events. Planning premises provide a basis for making future oriented plans.
Feature # 10. Effective Communication System:
Framing and implementing plans requires interaction of managers at all levels with people inside and outside the organisation. A sound plan presupposes that a well-designed communication system exists in the organisation. A well communicated plan is understood by everyone, contains inputs of everyone and ensures its effective implementation.