Of the five management functions — planning, organizing, staffing, leading and controlling — planning is the most fundamental. All other functions stem from planning. However, planning doesn’t always get the attention that it deserves; when it does, many managers discover that the planning process isn’t as easy as they thought it would be — or that even the best-laid plans can go awry.
Planning means to look ahead and decide future courses of action. It is a preparatory step. It is a systematic activity which determines when, how and who is going to perform a specific job. Planning is a detailed program regarding future courses of action.
It is rightly said “Well plan is half done”.
Planning takes into consideration available & prospective human and physical resources of the organization so as to get effective co-ordination, contribution & perfect adjustment. It is the basic management function which includes formulation of one or more detailed plans to achieve optimum balance of needs or demands with the available resources.
According to Henry Fayol, “purveyance, which is an essential element of planning, covers not merely looking into the future but making provisions for it. A plan is then a projected course of action”.
According to Koontz O’Donnell – “Planning is an intellectual process, the conscious determination of courses of action, the basing of decisions on purpose, acts and considered estimates”.
Before a manager can tackle any of the other functions, he or she must first devise a plan. A plan is a blueprint for goal achievement that specifies the necessary resource allocations, schedules, tasks, and other actions.
A goal is a desired future state that the organization attempts to realize. Goals are important because an organization exists for a purpose, and goals define and state that purpose. Goals specify future ends; plans specify today’s means.
The word planning incorporates both ideas: It means determining the organization’s goals and defining the means for achieving them. Planning allows managers the opportunity to adjust to the environment instead of merely reacting to it. Planning increases the possibility of survival in business by actively anticipating and managing the risks that may occur in the future.
A planned performance brings better results as compared to unplanned one. A Managers’ job is planning, monitoring and controlling. Planning includes the plan a thought process, action and implementation. Planning gives more power over future.
Not only does planning provide direction and a unity of purpose for organizations, it also answers six basic questions in regard to any activity:
- What needs to be accomplished?
- When is the deadline?
- Where will this be done?
- Who will be responsible for it?
- How will it get done?
- How much time, energy, and resources are required to accomplish this goal?
The planning process consists of:
- Identifying the goals or objectives to be achieved
- Formulating strategies to achieve them
- Arranging or creating the requires means
- Implementing, directing and monitoring all steps in their proper sequence