The Different Types of Plans

Organizational plans can be generally described in terms of comprehensiveness, length of time covered or time frame, specificity, and frequency of use.

Comprehensiveness refers to the completeness of planning coverage; for example: it may start from plans that cover the entire organization, called strategic plans, up to operational plans that apply to a particular operational area only. The more comprehensive the plan is, the better, as this could completely guide both the employer and employee toward the fast achievement of company goals.

A plan may be long-term, or covering more than three years, or short-term, covering one year or less. Top-level management usually sets the long-range plans, while lower-level management focuses on short-term goals.

Specificity refers to very detailed, clearly defined plans wherein objectives are clearly stated and could easily be understood. Simple language must be used in order to facilitate understanding.

Frequency of use refers to the number of times or instances a plan may be used. For example, strategic plans have single-use, while operational plans are usually standing or are used frequently or for several times. Referring to set plans is often necessary to ensure that all plans are carried out, thus, hastening the achievement of the organization’s goals.

Managers meet many planning challenges as they go about their tasks and direct their affairs. In some organizations, the planning environment is steady, but in others, it is dynamic, so different types of plans result to meet organizational needs. Planning types include the following:

  • Strategic plans – plans that establish the organization’s overall goals and apply to the entire firm; they are broad in scope and are the responsibility of the CEO, president, and general manager of the company.
  • Operational plans – plans that apply to a particular unit area only; their scope is narrow; achievement of company goals may not be achieved if operational plans are not clear.
  • Long-term plans – plans that go beyond three years; everyone must understand the organization’s long-term plans to avoid confusion that may divert the organization members’ attention.
  • Short-term plans – plans that cover one year or less; such plans must lead toward the attainment of long-term goals and are the responsibility of the unit/department heads.
  • Directional plans – plans that are flexible or give general guidelines only; although flexible and general, these plans must still be related to the strategic plans.
  • Specific plans – plans that are clearly stated and which have no room for interpretation; language used must be very understandable.
  • Single-use plans – plans used or stated once only as this applies to the entire organization; refer to the strategic plans of the firm.
  • Standing plans – plans that are ongoing; provide guidance for different activities done repeatedly; refer to the identified activities of operational plans.

Steps in Planning

Planning is a process and, as such, involves steps—from carrying out its purpose, setting of goals/objectives, and determining what should be done to accomplish them. Schermerhorn (2008) gave five steps in the planning process:

  1. Define your goals/objectives by identifying desired outcomes/results in very specific ways.
  2. Determine where you stand in relation to set goals/objectives; know your strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Develop premises regarding future conditions; anticipate future events, generate alternative “scenarios” for what may happen; identify for each scenario things that may help or hinder progress toward your goals/ objectives;
  4. Analyze and choose among action alternatives; list and carefully evaluate possible actions and choose the alternative most likely to accomplish goals/objectives.
  5. Implement the plan and evaluate results; take corrective action and revise plans as needed.