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Planning in its Larger Context Working Backwards Through Any "System" Before we jump into the typical phases in the standard "generic" planning process, let's stand back and minute and briefly look at the role of planning in its overall context.
This is more than an academic exercise -- understanding this overall context for planning can greatly help the reader to design and carry out the planning process in almost planning application. One of the most common sets of activities in the management is planning.
Very simply put, planning is setting the direction for something -- some system -- and then working to ensure the system follows that direction.
Systems have inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes. To explain, inputs to the system include resources such as raw materials, money, technologies and people. These inputs go through a process where they're aligned, moved along and carefully coordinated, ultimately to achieve the goals set for the system.
Outputs are tangible results produced by processes in the system, such as products or services for consumers. Another kind of result is outcomes, or benefits for consumers, e. Systems can be the entire organization, or its departments, groups, processes, etc.
Whether the system is an organization, department, business, project, etc. They start from the results outcomes and outputs they prefer and work backwards through the system to identify the processes needed to produce the results.
Then they identify what inputs or resources are needed to carry out the processes. It's not critical to grasp completely accurate definitions of each of the following terms. Goals Goals are specific accomplishments that must be accomplished in total, or in some combination, in order to achieve some larger, overall result preferred from the system, for example, the mission of an organization.
Going back to our reference to systems, goals are outputs from the system. Strategies or Activities These are the methods or processes required in total, or in some combination, to achieve the goals. Going back to our reference to systems, strategies are processes in the system.
Objectives Objectives are specific accomplishments that must be accomplished in total, or in some combination, to achieve the goals in the plan.
Objectives are usually "milestones" along the way when implementing the strategies. Tasks Particularly in small organizations, people are assigned various tasks required to implement the plan.
If the scope of the plan is very small, tasks and activities are often essentially the same.
Resources and Budgets Resources include the people, materials, technologies, money, etc. The costs of these resources are often depicted in the form of a budget. Going back to our reference to systems, resources are input to the system.
Basic Overview of Typical Phases in Planning Whether the system is an organization, department, business, project, etc. The phases are carried out carefully or -- in some cases -- intuitively, for example, when planning a very small, straightforward effort.
The complexity of the various phases and their duplication throughout the system depend on the scope of the system. For example, in a large corporation, the following phases would be carried out in the corporate offices, in each division, in each department, in each group, etc.
Different groups of planners might have different names for the following activities and groups them differently. However, the nature of the activities and their general sequence remains the same.
The following are typical phases in planning. They do not comprise the complete, ideal planning process. Reference Overall Singular Purpose "Mission" or Desired Result from System During planning, planners have in mind consciously or unconsciously some overall purpose or result that the plan is to achieve.
For example, during strategic planning, it's critical to reference the mission, or overall purpose, of the organization. Take Stock Outside and Inside the System This "taking stock" is always done to some extent, whether consciously or unconsciously.
For example, during strategic planning, it's important to conduct an environmental scan.
This scan usually involves considering various driving forces, or major influences, that might effect the organization. SWOT is an acronym for considering the organization's strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats faced by the organization.
During this analysis, planners also can use a variety of assessments, or methods to "measure" the health of systems.
Establish Goals Based on the analysis and alignment to the overall mission of the system, planners establish a set of goals that build on strengths to take advantage of opportunities, while building up weaknesses and warding off threats. Establish Strategies to Reach Goals The particular strategies or methods to reach the goals chosen depend on matters of affordability, practicality and efficiency.
Establish Objectives Along the Way to Achieving Goals Objectives are selected to be timely and indicative of progress toward goals. Associate Responsibilities and Time Lines With Each Objective Responsibilities are assigned, including for implementation of the plan, and for achieving various goals and objectives.John Manzoni.
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