Nature of planning:
1. Planning is primary function of management:
The functions of management are broadly classified as planning, organisation, direction and control. It is thus the first function of management at all levels. Since planning is involved at all managerial functions, it is rightly called as an essence of management.
2. Planning focuses on objectives:
Planning is a process to determine the objectives or goals of an enterprise. It lays down the means to achieve these objectives. The purpose of every plan is to contribute in the achievement of objectives of an enterprise.
3. Planning is a function of all managers:
Every manager must plan. A manager at a higher level has to devote more time to planning as compared to persons at the lower level. So the President or Managing director in a company devotes more time to planning than the supervisor.
4. Planning as an intellectual process:
Planning is a mental work basically concerned with thinking before doing. It is an intellectual process and involves creative thinking and imagination. Wherever planning is done, all activities are orderly undertaken as per plans rather than on the basis of guess work. Planning lays down a course of action to be followed on the basis of facts and considered estimates, keeping in view the objectives, goals and purpose of an enterprise.
5. Planning as a continuous process:
Planning is a continuous and permanent process and has no end. A manager makes new plans and also modifies the old plans in the light of information received from the persons who are concerned with the execution of plans. It is a never ending process.
6. Planning is dynamic (flexible):
Planning is a dynamic function in the sense that the changes and modifications are continuously done in the planned course of action on account of changes in business environment.
As factors affecting the business are not within the control of management, necessary changes are made as and when they take place. If modifications cannot be included in plans it is said to be bad planning.
7. Planning secures efficiency, economy and accuracy:
A pre- requisite of planning is that it should lead to the attainment of objectives at the least cost. It should also help in the optimum utilisation of available human and physical resources by securing efficiency, economy and accuracy in the business enterprises. Planning is also economical because it brings down the cost to the minimum.
8. Planning involves forecasting:
Planning largely depends upon accurate business forecasting. The scientific techniques of forecasting help in projecting the present trends into future. ‘It is a kind of future picture wherein proximate events are outlined with some distinctness while remote events appear progressively less distinct.”
9. Planning and linking factors:
A plan should be formulated in the light of limiting factors which may be any one of five M’s viz., men, money, machines, materials and management.
10. Planning is realistic:
A plan always outlines the results to be attained and as such it is realistic in nature.
Components of Planning
The entire process of planning consists of many aspects. These basically include missions, objectives, policies, procedures, programmes, budgets and strategies.
This is one of the first components of planning. The mission of an organization basically dictates its fundamental purposes. It describes what exactly it wants to achieve. The mission may be either written or implicit from the organization’s functioning.
A mission statement describes who the products and customers of a business are. It shows the direction in which the business intends to move and what it aims to achieve.
Even the basic values and beliefs of the organization are a part of this. One can also understand its attitude towards its employees from the mission statement.
Many stakeholders of a business use its mission statement. Managers use it to evaluate their success and set goals. On the other hand, employees use it to foster a sense of unity and purpose. Even customers and investors use it to understand how the business intends to work in the future.
Objectives represent the end results which an organization aims to reach. We can also refer to it as goals or targets. Not just planning but all factions of business management begin with the setting of objectives.
In terms of the types of objectives, they may be either individualistic or collective. They can even be long-term and short-term depending on their duration. They can also be general or specific in terms of their scope.
Managers of a business should lay down their objectives clearly and precisely. They must consider their mission and values before setting their goals. Furthermore, they must ensure that their objects for each activity are in consonance with each other.
Policies are basically statements of understanding or course of action. They guide the decision-making process for all activities of the organization. Consequently, they impose limits on the scope of decisions.
For example, a company might have a policy of always paying a minimum dividend of 5% of profits. So, when it decides to pay a dividend, the amount cannot be below 5%.
Just like the mission statement, even policies of an organization may be expressly written or implied. Managers make policies for all activities of a business, including sales, production, human resource, etc.
Policies should never be too rigid because that excessively limits functioning. Policy-makers must also ensure they explain policies to employees clearly. This will prevent any ambiguities that may arise. Policies must also change with time to suit new challenges and circumstances.
Procedures are some of the most important components of planning. They describe the exact manner in which something has to be done. They basically guide actions for activities that managers and employees perform.
Procedures also include step-by-step methods. Even rules regulating actions come within the ambit of procedures. The planning process must ensure that procedures are always practical. They should not be rigid and difficult to implement.
Budgets are plans that express expected results in numerical terms. Whenever an organization expects to do something, it can make a budget to decide on its target. Most activities, targets, and decisions require budgeting. For example, an income budget shows expected financial results and profits.
A programme is nothing but the outline of a broad objective. It contains a series of methods, procedures, and policies that the organization needs to implement. In other words, it includes many other components of planning.
For example, a business may have a diversification programme. Consequently, it will make budgets and policies accordingly for this purpose. Planners and managers can implement programmes like these at various levels.
A strategy in simple words refers to minute plans of action that aim to achieve specific requirements. Proper implementation of strategies leads to the achievement of the requisite goals. The nature of an organization’s values and missions will determine how it will strategize.