Planning shouldn’t be a very difficult term to explain as many academics and professionals have made it look. We all engage in one form of planning or the other on a daily basis without even realising what it is that we do. Planning as far as we live is one function that we cannot avoid. It does not matter at what level we operate from, a house for instance needs to plan for the family or face the consequences of not planning.
This article is written with the intention of explaining what planning is in a simple and unambiguous manner and to give out invaluable tips that can be employed by all when the need to plan arises.
WHAT IS PLANNING?
When you sit down in that beautiful sofa in your house, think of what you want to achieve and how you intend to achieve them, you have planned. It is as simple as that. Isn’t that simple? The only little difference that makes the big difference is that these desires of yours and thinking cannot come out of the shell if they are not internalised. The first thing to do towards internalising your thoughts is to give them concrete value.
STEPS INVOLVED IN PLANNING
Planning is a process contained in the budgetary process. It has similar steps with budgeting but, with a more long term perspective than the budgeting. Below are the steps that strategic planners needs to take if they are serious about planning for the success of the business they control.
STRONGLY DESIRE A THING
The first vital step in planning is to first of all have a goal or a mission that you want to achieve. Planning cannot be done on nothing; it has to be based on something. You don’t just wake up one morning from your bed and start planning into thin air. What is it that you want to achieve? If you can state it, then you have what you desire to get. I must warn at this point that desire is not same as a wish. In as much as they both represent our thirst for something, they mean different things. While a desire is backed by determination, a mere wish is spontaneous without any merit.
SEARCH FOR THE AVAILABLE MEANS OF ACHIEVING YOUR DESIRED OBJECTIVES
If you successfully desire result, the next stage in the planning hierarchy is the search process. Whatever it is that you desire, it can never come to you if positive action that will bring it to fruition is not taken. Search stage is an important yet, most misunderstood step in the planning process. A lot of focus and attention are required at this stage so as not to be distracted by so many frivolities parading themselves as potential means of getting what you desire done.
For example, an individual that desire buying shares with the potential of yielding 25% return on investment can search through the accounting information of the company. Using the accounting information, the investor can now perform a fundamental analysis which is part of business analysis in order to make an informed business valuation. This is one of the importances of accounting.
EVALUATE THE IDENTIFIED MEANS OF ACHIEVING YOUR OBJECTIVE
You don’t just swing your wand and choose to executive and option that presents itself upon request. You need to evaluate the option to see if it is the most suitable path that can successfully lead you to your desired result. The best way of evaluating an opportunity is to have the system reversed. Starting from the anticipated end result of a process and working backwards will place you in a better position to see the reasonableness of the proposed action. Having the ability to evaluate opportunities in the light of prevailing circumstances is one of the greatest soft skills that a manager can have or poses. If you are a manager and still not posses that managerial ingenuity of appeasing investment using your sixth sense, then think of taking a course on entrepreneurial skill.
SELECT THE OPTION THAT MATCHES YOUR NEED THE MOST
At this stage, all that you need to do is select the alternative course of action that will best deliver your desired result. If you evaluation and analysis from the above step reveals to you that company C is a good investment, then select it.
IMPLEMENT THE SELECTED OPTION
It is not enough to say that you will invest in company C for instance, action needs to be taken. You need to find the motivation to do the actual investing. Same goes to planning, selecting what needs to be done to enable you achieve your dream won’t provide an answer; you need to get busy implementing your plans. If you think you do not have the right skills needed to execute the plans, and then outsource it to a third-party. Outsourcing is an incredible way of getting many difficult tasks done without feeling the brunt. In fact, outsourcing has become part of the functions of management. However, great care needs to be taken while outsourcing your business operations.
An integral part of planning is the control aspect of it. Through observation of results, variances that are subsequently analysed will be used to enhance decision making process in the future.
REFINE YOUR COURSE OF ACTION IF ACTUAL RESULT SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFER FROM DESIRED RESULT
Planning is a loop or cybernetic system that relies on feedback to
flourish. Constantly monitoring results and comparing them with standards is a key success factor in good planning.
REPEAT IF NEED BE
Planning is not a static event that is done once and for all. Certain iterations are necessary to make the whole planning process worthwhile. The secret to succeeding in planning is to duplicate what worked in one aspect of a business in another.
It is evident from the above planning is not a static action like a lot of managers think. Planning is a cyclic process that in most cases loops. Planning is not a precise scientific process that can be done with precision. However imprecise the planning cycle might be, the need to have a reasonably comprehensive plan in this turbulent time cannot be taken lightly or simply relegated to the background.
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