Definition, Features, Steps and facts of Planning



Definition, Features, Steps and facts of Planning

This is another management function which is futuristic. It goes together with another management function of forecasting. It involves deciding in advance what to do, how to do it, when to do it and who is to do it. Consequently, planning has to do with the conscious choice of patterns of influence on the manager in his attempt to make decisions. For planning to be effective there must be the establishment of objective.


Definition of Planning

Planning is defined as the design of a desired future and of effective and efficient way of bringing it about. We can also look at planning as examining the future and drawing up a plan of action.

From the above two definitions of planning, we can identify some features of planning.


Features of Planning

(a) Planning involves design. Remember to design is to create which is one of the skills of management. This means that before any other management function can take place, there must be first of all planning. Consequently, planning precedes action in respect of other management functions.

(b) Planning attempts to bring necessary actions and fit them together to something we want to make sense of before it happens. This means that before we realize an objective, there must be series of actions which must be well fitted together in a logical sequence.

(c) Arising from (b) above, planning is focused on the need to achieve stated and well defined objectives. This means that the end-product of planning is the realization of organizational objectives.

(d) Planning is also a conscious deliberate response to the negative belief that unless something is done a desired future state will not occur, and to the optimistic belief that we can do things to improve our chances of achieving the desired state.


Planning and Decision making

We have seen what planning is through two definitions on planning. Arising from the definitions we have selected some features of planning. We are going further to see the relationship between planning and decision making.


Decision Making

In the process of planning in an organization decision is being made. This is because decision making is that activity that which makes the choice of which activity is to be carried from different activities. What this means is that before a decision can be made, there must be alternative or different ways to do something. Out of these ways, there must be an action to pick one alternative out of the several alternatives. A decision is therefore regarded as commitment to action. This is why a plan is useless unless it is committed into concrete action.

A complete activity of planning/decision making process is shown below.


planning/decision making process

Steps in Planning/Decision Making

We have just seen that decision making is the heart of planning. Without taking decision and committing planning to action, the plan is useless and is of no value. It soon collapses because there is nothing to pump blood in it.

Figure 5.1 shows the relevant steps in planning.

These steps are also the steps in decision making and we are going to consider them, though briefly, one after the other.

(a) Define problem/issue

This is the first step in planning/decision making. The objective has been set, and there is an obstacle toward the realization of the objective. As a result, before a problem does exist and becomes an issue there must be an objective which the problem is threatening. That problem must be identified and isolated. Care must be taken here so as not to confuse symptom of a problem to the problem at stake. For example, there can be smoke in the factory but what is causing the smoke is the fire. Attacking the smoke is a sheer waste of time because the fire will continue to produce fresh smoke. The only way to put an end to the smoke is to quench the fire by a relevant means or a combination of means. The same situation goes to management function of planning/decision. The exact problem has to be identified. The manager must therefore be diligent and painstaking.

(b) Collect relevant date

Planning and decision making cannot take place unless there is data. But the data should be meaningful to the problem already identified. This is where the information gathered in the management function of forecasting will be useful. The assumptions made will be further subjected to analysis so as to determine the relevance to the problem at stake. Company records are also part of the data which have to be processed. Outcome of researches can also be part of the data if such outcome is relevant to the issue.

(c) Develop alternative solutions

The data having been assembled, the next stage is for management to work out possible solutions. The solution can never be one because if it is so then there can be no choice. The idea of choice suggests that at least there must be two solutions to the existing problem. Out of these solutions, there can be a choice.

(d) Assess the consequences

But before there can be a choice, there should be consequences which must be carefully considered in the light of the problem threatening the objective. The manager should determine the required resources needed in selecting an option. He should find out if such resources do exist and if they can be put to alternative use that can bring better benefits. He must be sure too that the organization can handle the option that is eventually and the option is capable of tackling the problem effectively.

(e) Select the Optimum Solution

The solutions having been worked out and ranked in order of preference, the next stage is to choose. And the choice should be the most feasible one after taking several factors into consideration vis-à-vis the objective and the problem at stake.

(f) Implement Solution

Once the choice has been, management should go ahead to implement. While implementing, there should be built-in motivational system that will enable problem to be tackled satisfactorily. Job plan should be developed spelling out the necessary activities to be done, who is to do them, how they are going to be done and at what time.

(g) Measure result

While implementing, there must be control and feedback. To achieve this, there should be regular reports on performance. The reports should then be compared with the objective. If there is a deviation, this means that there is no effective solution yet to the problem. Such deviation should be quickly corrected.


Advantages of Planning

Planning has the following advantages:

(a) Planning focuses on objectives. This is important so as not to commit the limited resources of the organization into unprofitable actions.

(b) It off sets uncertainties by making the manager to develop some confidence which will enable him to take decisions with some degree of certainty.

(c) It minimizes waste before careful analysis would have been made with respect to the critical activities that need to be performed in other to realize the objective or give solution to the problem. All unwanted activities are isolated and thrown away.

(d) Planning also ensures control through measurement and feedback. This is important so as to avoid unnecessary expenditure of resources.


Disadvantages of Planning

(a) The effectiveness of planning depends on the quality of data gathered and the assumptions made from them. If the quality is poor and assumptions not correct. They can adversely affect future of the results.

(b) Planning is expensive as it involves considerable amount of time and money

(c) Planning delays action because it is only when the plan is completed that the desired action can take place.

Also read on: Meaning, Principles, Theory, Characteristics, & Functions of Management  

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