This article throws light upon the three main types of action plans in an organisation. The types are: 1. Tactical Plans 2. Single-Use Plans 3. Standing Plans.

Type # 1. Tactical Plans:

Tactical plans are an organised sequence of steps designed to execute strategic plans and achieve strategic goals. While strategy focusses on resources, environment and mission, tactics deal primar­ily with people and action.

How to engage in tactical planning:

There are three general guidelines to effective tactical planning:

Firstly, the planner must recognise that tactics include various sub-objectives leading to broader strategic objectives.


Secondly, while strategies are stated in general terms, tactics must deal more with specific resources and constraints.

Finally, tactical planning requires the use of human resources. Managers involved in tactical planning devote a lot of time working with other people.

Executing tactical plans:

In the ultimate analysis it appears that the success of any tactical plan depends on the way it is carried out.

If a strategy calls for a 5-year sales increase of 30% and an initial tactic plan of a 8% increase in the first year, then the marketing department must devote extra effort, time and energy to achieve this increase. Likewise, a tactical sub-objective of cutting production costs by 5% in six months suggests that employees and first-line supervisors must work hard and ‘smarter’ to attain the goal, viz., the desired cost savings.


Tactical planning is carried out at all levels of management. For example, it is the task of plant managers to develop tactical plans consistent with those of the manufacturing managers above them, and first-line supervisors must have tactical plans that correspond to those of the plant managers.

Under ideal conditions or circumstances, tactical plans should cascade down the organi­sation in much the same way as objectives do under management by objectives (MBO).

Type # 2. Single-Use Plans:

Such plans are developed to carry out a course of action that is unlikely to be repeated in the future. The two most common forms of the single-use plan are programmes and projects.


A programme is a single-use plan for various activities. It may consist of such things as appropriate techniques for introducing a new product line, offering new production facility, or even changing an organisation’s mission.


The following guidelines are normally sug­gested for effective programme development:

1. Dividing the total set of activities into meaningful steps.

2. Studying the relationships among steps, taking special note of any required sequence of steps.

3. Assigning responsibility for each step to appropriate managers or units, or both.


4. Determining and allocating the resources needed for each step.

5. Estimating the starting and completion dates for each step.

6. Assigning target dates for completion of each step.


A project is very similar to a programme but its scope is limited and is less complex than a programme. A project may be a part of a broader programme or it may be a self-contained single-use plan. An example is developing a new product within an existing product line.


Most programmes and projects are developed in conjunction with a budget: a statement of the resources allocated for a particular set of activities (such as a programme or a project) and a further statement of how the resources are to be divided among the various activities. It should be noted that a budget is not only a plan for spending but also a control devise to ensure that funds are spent in the proper way.

Type # 3. Standing Plans:

Whereas single-use plans (programmes and projects) are for non-repetitive situations or occur­rences, standing plans are used for activities that recur regularly over a long period of time. In this context, we will refer to three kinds of standing plans: policies, standard operating procedures and rules and regulations.


As a general guide for action, a policy is the most general form of standing plan. A policy may also describe how exceptions are to be handled.

Standing operating procedures:

A new type of standing plan is the standard operating procedure, or SOP. An SOP is more specific than a policy in the sense that it outlines the steps to be followed in particular circumstances. SOPs describe in detail how a recurring task or activity is to be handled.

Rules and regulations:


The narrowest of the standing plans are rules and regulations. They describe exactly how specific activities are to be carried out. Rather than guiding, decision-making rules and regulations act as substitutes for decision-making in various diverse situations and circumstances.

We find a lot of similarity between SOPs and rules and regulations. They are both relatively narrow in scope and each can act as a substitute for decision-making. However, while a SOP typically describes a sequence of activities, rules and regulations focus on a single activity.

Table 5.6 summarises the three types of action plans that may have been identified, viz., tactical planning, single-case plans and standing plan. It shows both their purposes as also the forms they take.