Planning is a major function of management. Planning may be the most important of all management functions. Planning involves a six-step process that assists an organization in setting goals and determining how to accomplish them best (Allen, 1998). “Effective planning helps an organization adapt to change by identifying opportunities and avoiding problems. It sets the direction for the other functions of management and for teamwork” (Allen, 1988, ¶ 1). In order to operate in an efficient and effective manner and to progress with focus and direction, an organization must set goals and develop plans to achieve those goals (Erven, 1999). All management levels participate in planning; the characteristics of planning are varied according to the level of management (Erven, 1999). Often, managers must implement new strategic plans in order to comply with recent legislation such as the case with the Sarbanes Oxley Act. Managers must plan to determine the goals of the organization and direct the course of actions for the future; planning gives an organization its purpose and objectives. Six Steps of the Planning Process
Planning is a decision making process; during the process one decides what should be done and the best course of action for doing it (Bateman-Snell, 2007). The first step in the planning process is situational analysis (Bateman-Snell, 2007). According to Bateman-Snell (2008), situational analysis is: “a process planners use, within time and resource constraints, to gather, interpret, and summarize all information relevant to the planning issue under consideration” (p. 118). This step in the planning process examines the internal forces and the impact those forces have on the organization or individual work divisions. Additionally, consideration is given to the effects from external environment (Bateman-Snell, 2007). In the end, this step should identify the issues and problems, and lead towards a direction in regard to plans that need to be made (Bateman-Snell, 2007).
After the situational analysis, several alternative goals will be advanced and plans made to achieve those goals (Bateman-Snell, 2007). “This step in the process should stress creativity and encourage managers and employees to assume a broad perspective on their jobs (Bateman-Snell, 2007, p. 119). Next it is necessary to evaluate the goals and plans. This step involves placing priority on the most important goals and even eradicating some as a possibility (Bateman-Snell, 2007). The next step is: goal plan and selection. “Once managers have assessed the various goals and plans, they will select the one that’s most appropriate and feasible” Bateman-Snell, 2007, p. 120). Usually, a formality in the planning process includes the writing of the most logical and practical goals and plans in relation to forecasted circumstances (Bateman-Snell, 2007). Some organizations develop planning scenarios with contingency plans. This allows a manager to use a different set of plans should the situation change. “Scenario planning allows an organization to be prepared for a variety of eventualities” (Management, 2006).
When managers have determined goals and developed plans for achieving their goals, the plans must then be implemented (Bateman-Snell, 2007). Effective implementation of plans is necessary for goals to be reached successfully; employees and managers alike must have sufficient means and understanding of the plan and be motivated to implement it (Bateman-Snell, 2007). “If both managers and employees have participated in the previous steps of the planning process, the implementation phase probably will be more effective and efficient” (Bateman-Snell, 2007, p. 120).
The final step in the planning process is: monitor and control. In this step managers gauge the effectiveness of plans to see if the goals are being achieved as hoped. Additionally, it allows managers to take corrective measures and revise plans if...