This article throws light upon the eight main steps involved in the planning process of an organisation. The steps are: 1. Perception of Opportunities 2. Establishing Objectives 3. Planning Premises 4. Identification of Alternatives 5. Evaluation of Alternatives 6. Choice of Alternative Plans 7. Formulation of Supporting Plan 8. Establishing Sequence of Activities.
Step # 1. Perception of Opportunities:
Perception of opportunities is not strictly a part of the planning process. But this awareness of opportunities in the external environment as well as within the organisation is the real starting point for planning. It is important to take a preliminary look at possible future opportunities and see them clearly and completely.
All managers should know where they stand in the light of their strengths and weaknesses, understand the problems they wish to solve and know what they gain. Setting objectives depends on the awareness. Planning requires realistic diagnosis of the opportunity situation.
Step # 2. Establishing Objectives:
This is the second step in the planning process. The major organisational and unit objectives are set in this stage. This is to be done for the long term as well as for the short range. Objective specify the expected results and 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 various types of plans.
Organisational objectives give direction to the major plans, which by reflecting these objectives define the objective of every major department. Major objectives, in turn, control the objectives of subordinate departments and so on down the line. In other words, objectives from a hierarchy.
The objectives of lesser departments will be more accurate if subdivision managers understand the overall enterprise objectives and the derivative goals. Managers should also have the opportunity to contribute their ideal to setting their own goals and those of the organisation.
Step # 3. Planning Premises:
After determination of organisational objectives, the next step is establishing planning premises that is the conditions under which planning activities will be undertaken. Planning premises are planning assumptions the expected environmental and internal conditions.
Thus planning premises are external and internal. External premises include total factors in task environment like political, social, technological, competitors, plans and actions, government policies. Internal factors include organisation’s policies, resources of various types, and the ability of the organisation to withstand the environmental pressure. The plans are formulated in the light of both external and internal factors.
The nature of planning premises differs at different levels of planning. At the top level, it is mostly externally focused. As one moves down the organisational hierarchy the composition of planning premises changes from external to internal. The major plans both old and new will materially affect the future against which the managers at lower units must plan.
Step # 4. Identification of Alternatives:
The fourth step in planning is to identify the alternatives. Various alternatives can be identified based on the organisational objectives and planning premises. The concept of various alternatives suggests that a particular objective can be achieved through various actions.
For example, if an organisation has set its objectives to grow further, it can be achieved in several ways like expanding in the same Field of business or product line diversifying in other areas, joining hands with other organisations, or taking over another organisation and so on. Within each category, there may be several alternatives.
The most common problem is not finding alternatives but reducing the number of alternatives so that the most promising may be analysed. Even with mathematical techniques and the computer, there is a limit to the number of alternatives that can be thoroughly examined. The planner must usually make a preliminary examination to discover the most fruitful possibilities.
Step # 5. Evaluation of Alternatives:
The various alternative course of action should be analysed in the light of premises and goals. There are various techniques available to evaluate alternatives. The evaluation is to be done in the light of various factors. Example, cash inflow and outflow, risks, limited resources, expected pay back etc., the alternatives should give us the best chance of meeting our goals at the lowest cost and highest profit.
Step # 6. Choice of Alternative Plans:
This is the real point of decision-making. An analysis and evaluation of alternative courses will disclose that two or more .ire advisable and beneficial. The fit one is selected.
Step # 7. Formulation of Supporting Plan:
After formulating the basic plan, various plan are derived so as to support the main plan. In an organisation there can be various derivative plans like planning for buying equipment, buying raw materials, recruiting and training personal, developing new product etc. These derivative plans are formulated out of the basic or main plan and almost invariably required to support the basic plan.
Step # 8. Establishing Sequence of Activities:
After formulating basic and derivative plans, the sequence of activities is determined so those plans are put into action. After decisions are made and plans are set, budgets for various periods and divisions can be prepared to give plans more concrete meaning for implementation.
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 programme of a business or other enterprise can have its own budgets, usually of expenses and capital expenditures, which tie into the overall budget.
If done well, budgets become a means of adding together the various plans and also set important standards against which planning progress can be measured.