Planning is deciding in advance what to do and how to do. It is one of the basic managerial functions. Before doing something, the manager must formulate an idea of how to work on a particular task. Thus, planning is closely connected with creativity and innovation. But the manager would first have to set objectives, only then will a manager know where he has to go. Planning seeks to bridge the gap between where we are and where we want to go. Planning is what managers at all levels do. It requires taking decisions since it involves making a choice from alternative courses of action. In simple words, planning is deciding in advance what is to be done, when, where, how and by whom it is to be done. Thus, a plan is a determined course of action. It is an attempt on the part of a manager to anticipate the future in order to achieve better performance.
According to Koontz & O’Doell, “Planning is deciding in advance what to do, how to do and who is to do it. Planning bridges the gap between where we are to, where we want to go. It makes possible things to occur which would not otherwise occur”.
Nature of Planning :-
following are the inherent characteristics of planning
(i) Planning focuses on achieving objectives: Organisations are set up with a general purpose in view. Specific goals are set out in the plans along with the activities to be undertaken to achieve the goals. Thus, planning is purposeful. Planning has no meaning unless it contributes to the achievement of predetermined organisational goals. (ii) Planning is a primary function of management: Planning lays down the base for other functions of management. All other managerial functions are performed within the framework of the plans drawn. Thus, planning precedes other functions. This is also referred to as the primacy of planning. The various functions of management are interrelated and equally important. However, planning provides the basis of all other functions. (iii) Planning is pervasive: Planning is required at all levels of management as well as in all departments of the organisation. It is not an exclusive function of top management nor of any particular department. But the scope of planning differs at different levels and among different departments. For example, the top management undertakes planning for the organisation as a whole. Middle management does the departmental planning. At the lowest level, day-to-day operational planning is done by supervisors. (iv) Planning is continuous: Plans are prepared for a specific period of time, may be for a month, a quarter, or a year. At the end of that period there is need for a new plan to be drawn on the basis of new requirements and future conditions. Hence, planning is a continuous process. Continuity of planning is related with the planning cycle. It means that a plan is framed, it is implemented, and is followed by another plan, and so on. (v) Planning is futuristic: Planning essentially involves looking ahead and preparing for the future. The purpose of planning is to meet future events effectively to the best advantage of an organisation. It implies peeping into the future, analysing it and predicting it. Planning is, therefore, regarded as a forward looking function based on forecasting. Through forecasting, future events and conditions are anticipated and plans are drawn accordingly. Thus, for example, sales forecasting is the basis on which a business firm prepares its annual plan for production and sales. (vi) Planning involves decision making: Planning essentially involves choice from among various alternatives and activities. If there is only one possible goal or a possible course of action, there is no need for planning because there is no choice. The need for planning arises only when alternatives are available. In actual practice, planning presupposes the existence of alternatives. Planning, thus, involves thorough examination and evaluation of each alternative and...