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Explain the Nature or characteristics of planning

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Planning is considered as a very important part of management. With the help of the process of planning, the managers can anticipate the problems the organization may have to face in the future and then they can analyze these problems and also evaluate the impact of these problems on the organization. The process of planning continuously takes place and each and every level of management. Some of the important characteristics of the process of planning are:-

1. Planning is an intellectual process: the process of planning involves mental work. The relevant facts in this regard are elated with the knowledge and experience of the manager. It is also very important that the manager visualizes the situations that may develop in the future. Therefore, the manager should be capable of deciding the most appropriate course of action that needs to be adopted in the future with a view to implement the plans. The decisions made by the managers are not based on any guesswork but it is a mental exercise in which the managers are required to anticipate the advantages as well as the disadvantages of all the alternative is that may be available to them. After considerable thinking, the managers have to opt for the best alternative. This is not an easy process and sometimes, some managers tried to avoid this work as it needs creative thinking by the managers. Depending on the capabilities of a manager, the process of planning can be difficult or easy for some persons. The main questions that the manager has to consider while planning involve the question that what needs to be done, how it has to be done, when it has to be done and who will do it. A decision that will be made by the manager in this regard will also depend on the capabilities of the manager making the decision. However if the manager considers all the practical aspects of the decision, the manager will be able to make the right choice at the right moment.

2. Primacy of planning: The primary function that has to be performed by a manager includes planning. All the other functions like organizing, staffing, controlling, directing have to be performed after planning. In this way, no other function can be performed by the managers without planning. For example, how a manager can involve in organizing a particular activity if it is not planned in it once. In the same way, how the manager can appoint and direct its start if the manager has not decided the objectives in it wants. Therefore, the function of planning has to be performed before every other activity. Other functions like organizing, directing, controlling and staffing overlap with each other and as a result it is possible for the managers to start one function before the other has been completed. However in some cases, there may be a need for the planning or to adjust the plan.

3. All managers have to plan: all the managers in the organization have to perform the function of planning. It can also be sent in this regard that planning is an essential part of management. However, sometimes the significance of the process of planning is overlooked and it is also mistakenly believed that the process of planning needs to be done only at the higher levels of management. But this is not true although the managers at the top-level have to devote most of their time in the process of planning. The managers at the middle and the lower level are also required to involve in the process of planning and in this way it can be said that all managers have to plan their activities.

The significance and the level of planning depend on the level of management at which this function is being performed. While at the higher levels of management, the planning is fundamental and far-reaching. For example, the CEO of the company wants to make sure that the managers at other levels do not exceed their scope of authority while involving in the process of planning. In this way the extent and the scope of the process of planning decreases with the lower level managers. However, regardless of their level in the organization, all managers have to indulge in the process of planning.

A difference of opinion has been expressed if the same person should be entrusted with the responsibility of planning and executing the plan or if these responsibilities should be given to different persons. According to some experts, the process of planning is an independent function in itself and therefore a full-time person should deal with this responsibility. Therefore the execution of these plans should be entrusted to some other person. These experts believe that in such a case, both planning and execution will get specialized persons which will help in improving the performance of these functions. However, according to the other view, the same person should be entrusted with the responsibility to plan and execute the Plans. These experts believe that the person who has formulated the plans will be in a better position to execute these plans. In this way, coordination can be achieved within the process of planning and execution. Therefore, a manager needs to plan and also to execute these plans.

A rational approach towards planning: the process of planning requires a rational approach with a view to achieve the goals of the organization. An action can be considered as rational if such action has been decided intelligently and objectively. The purpose of the management of the organization is to achieve these goals by applying the resources that are available with the organization. However the process of planning can reveal the different alternative that can be used to achieve the organizational goals. Although future is not certain but with the help of the process of planning, a rational approach can be adopted to suggest the alternative that can be adopted for dealing with various situations.

It is not very easy to select a particular alternative that can help the organization in achieving its goals. In the same way, the process of planning also requires a balance between the ends and means of the organization. Therefore, the process of planning helps the organization in taking rational decisions that can be helpful in achieving the goals of the organization.

Focus on objectives: There are a large number of persons were working in an organization. However, each of these persons has a distinct attitude and personality. Therefore it is natural that sometimes it can be a difference of opinion present regarding the organizational goals and also the ways in which these goals can be achieved among these persons. Therefore, it is also the focus of the process of planning to set the organizational goals and also to suggest the ways in which these objectives can be achieved by the organization.

The objectives of the organization have a significant impact on the future course of the organization. Therefore it is important that the organizational goals should be decided carefully otherwise the efforts made by the organization in this regard will go waste. Therefore, in the process of planning, the attention is given to the setting up of the appropriate goals for the organization.

Planning promotes efficiency and economy: the process of planning requires that the resources of the organization like capital, human resources, machines and materials should be used efficiently. Therefore, each and every factor of production is required to be used efficiently and economically so that the results are more as compared to the efforts used for achieving these results. Planning requires that an effort has to be made with a view to achieve the organizational goals with minimal resources. In this way, the process of planning helps in controlling the multiplicity of offers which in turn ensures economy and efficiency.

Limiting factors: under the process of planning, the managers are required to consider various limiting factors like human resources, capital, materials and market before they start the process of planning. On the other hand, if these limiting factors are ignored by the planners, it is inevitable that they cannot make successful plans. Therefore it is very important that the managers should start the process of planning only after they have considered the various limiting factors. For example, in some cases the organization will only be able to get the limited quota of raw materials. Therefore, in this case the availability of raw materials can be a limiting factor and the managers have to consider this factor before initiating the process of planning. The managers should first of all decide how much raw material they can get during this period. Therefore, the planning related with other factors like production, marketing, labor needs to be consistent with the availability of raw materials in this case.

Co-ordination: Co-ordination is very important in order to achieve harmonious working in the organization. Therefore the process of planning helps in coordinating who is going to do want, when and how. On the other hand, if the efforts that are made to achieve the organizational goals are not planned in advance, it is possible that various segments will work for the achievement of diverse objectives.

Planning is a continuous process: the process of planning is a continuous process in which the managers are involved all the time. The reason is that as and when new facts come to light, the process of planning has to be revised and amended. In the same way, while executing the plans, it is possible that there can be a change in circumstances due to which, it becomes very important to modify the plans on a continuous basis. Usually, it has been seen that the managers regularly re-examined their plans and modify them if required, as a result of the emergence of new situations. This allows the managers to take care of the new situations and also to deal with any problems that may have emerged after the plan was created. At planning is also required for dealing with the situations where the things have been going on smoothly but certainly a problem arises. In this way, the managers are always involved in the process of planning.

Realistic: the process of planning is based on future forecasts. Although it is not possible to predict the future accurately but in the process of planning it is very important that the predictions regarding the future should be as realistic as possible. In the same way, it is very important that the objectives established by the process of planning should be realistic that can be achieved with normal efforts. On the other hand, if the plans made by the managers are based on wishful thinking, it becomes very difficult to achieve the organizational goals. Therefore, planning should be based on the ground realities.

Flexibility: flexibility is also very important because the process of planning should be able to deal with the changes taking place in the business environment. On the other hand if rigid plans are made by the managers, these plans may not be successful in achieving the organizational goals if there is any change in the business environment. In the same way, the process of planning is a dynamic process and therefore it should be capable of adjusting itself to the requirements of the changing situations.

This article has been written by KJ Singh a MBA Graduate from a prestigious Business School In India
Article Published:November 19, 2016
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