Planning is deciding in advance the objectives to be achieved during a given period, formulating alternative courses of action to achieve them and selecting the best course of action.
Planning bridges the gap between where we are and where we want to go. It is like a mental exercise that requires imagination, foresight and sound judgment.
“Planning is deciding in advance what is to be done. It involves the selection of objectives, policies, procedures and programmes among alternatives”. – ME Hurley
“Planning is the thinking process, the organised foresight, the vision based on facts and experience that is required for intelligent action”. – Alfred and Beatty
Features of Planning –
1. Planning is s primary function
Planning lays down the base for other functions of management. All other managerial functions are performed on the basis of plan made beforehand. Thus, it can be said that planning precedes other functions.
2. Planning focuses on achieving objectives
Planning start with the determination of objectives. It identifies the actions that would lead to the desired results quickly and economically. It has no meaning unless it contributes to the achievement of predetermined goals.
3. Planning is pervasive
It is required at all levels of management as well as in all departments of the organisation. It is not a function restricted to top level only. It is performed at every level.
4. Planning is continuous
Planning is an ongoing process as it follows a cycle. Once, a plan is drawn, it is implemented and is followed by another plan and so on.
5. Planning is looking ahead
Planning is for looking ahead and preparing for future. The purpose of planning is to meet future events effectively to the best advantage of an organisation.
6. Planning involves decision making
Planning is essentially the process of choosing among various alternatives. So in order to make a choice effective, examination and evaluation of each alternatives is necessary. Thus it is concerned with decision making.
7. Planning is a mental exercise
Planning is a mental exercise as it requires creativity, imagination and higher thinking with sound judgment. It is an intellectual activity of thinking rather than doing.
Benefits of Planning –
1. Planning provides direction
By deciding in advance what is to be done, planning provides direction for action. It clearly defines what employees have to do and how to do.
2. Planning reduces risk of uncertainty
Planning is an activity which enables a manager to look ahead and anticipate changes. By deciding in advance, it shows the way to deal with changes and uncertain events.
3. Planning reduces overlapping and wasteful activities
Planning serves as the base for coordination. Various activities of different departments and division are carried on in an effective manner, which reduces the overlapping and wasteful activities.
4. Planning promotes innovative ideas
Planning requires high thinking and it is an intellectual process, so there is a great scope of finding better ideas and better methods to perform a particular job.
5. Planning facilities decision making
Planning helps the manager to look into the future and choose amongst various alternative courses of action. Thus it facilitate decision making.
6. Planning establishes standards for controlling
Planning provides the standards against which actual performance is measured. It helps in finding deviations and thus we can say planning provides the basis for controlling.
Limitations of Planning –
1. Planning leads to rigidity
When in an organisation, a well defined plan is drawn then a manager may not be in a position to change it. This leads to create rigidity.
2. Planning may not work in a dynamic environment
Business environment is dynamic, it changes from time to time. Hence I becomes difficult to forecast future and it leads to create obstacles to effective planning.
3. Planning reduces creativity
Planning is an activity, which is done by the top management and rest of the members just implement these plans. Due to which much of the initiative or creativity inherent in managers or other members get lost or reduced.
4. Planning involves huge cost
Planning is an expensive process. Money, time and lots of efforts have to be made in forecasting, collection of information and evaluation of alternative etc. So, it is a costly process.
5. Planning is a time consuming process
Sometimes, plans to be drawn up take so much of time that there is not much time left for their implementation.
6. Planning does not guarantee success
The success of an enterprise is possible only when plans are properly drawn up and implemented. Planning is based on forecasts, which estimate the future and future prediction is very difficult thus, it does not guarantee success.