Planning Function of Management – Definition and Features

Planning is the process of deciding in advance what is to be done, who is to do it, how it is to be done and when it is to be done. It is the process of determining a course of action, so as to achieve the desired results. It helps to bridge the gap from where we are, to where we want to go. It makes it possible for things to occur which would not otherwise happen. Planning is a higher order mental process requiring the use of intellectual faculties, imagination, and foresight and sound judgment. Accounting to Koontz, O’Donnell and Weihrich, “planning is an intellectually demanding process; it requires the conscious determination of courses of action and the basing of decisions on purpose, knowledge and considered estimates.

Planning is a process, which involves anticipation of future course of events and deciding the best course of action. It is a process of thinking before doing. “To plan is to produce a scheme for future action; to bring about specified results, at specified cost, in a specified period of time. It is deliberate attempt to influence, exploit, bring about, and controls the nature, direction, extent, speed and effects of change. It may even attempt deliberately to create change, remembering always that change (like decision) in any one sector will in the same way affect other sectors”. Planning is a deliberate and conscious effort done to formulate the design and orderly sequence actions through which it is expected to reach the objectives. Planning is a systematic attempt to decide a particular course of action for the future; it leads to determination of objectives of the group activity and the steps necessary to achieve them. Thus, it can be concluded that “planning is the selecting and relating of facts and the making and using of assumptions regarding the future in the visualization and formulation of proposed activities believed necessary to achieve desired results.

other words we can say that Planning is a process of thinking before doing. It involves determinations of goals and the activities required to be performed to achieve the goals. It consists:

  1. What is to be done?
  2. How it is to be done?
  3. Where it is to be done?
  4. When it is to be done?
  5. By whom it is to be done?

So planning is a process of shorting out the path for attaining the determined objective of the business. Overall planning is deciding that in present, what is to do in future.

Features/Nature/Characteristics of Planning

  • Goal oriented: the main purpose of plan is always to determine the goal to be achieved and the activities to be performed to achieve these goals. So planning relates to creative thinking for the solution of various problems.
  • Primacy (basic function) of planning: it means planning is the basic function of all other managerial functions. It provides a base for other managerial functions like organizing, staffing, directing and controlling. We can say that structure of all other functions depends on planning.
  • Forward looking: planning is never done for past but is done for the future to achieve certain objective. Therefore, it is said that planning is thinking before doing. Planning is based on estimated future trends of social, economic and technological changes because it has to tackle the future requirements.
  • Pervasiveness: planning is required in all sectors, i.e. business, industry, profession etc. whether it is of large scale or small scale and in all the department of organisation like purchase, production, marketing, finance department etc. however nature of planning differs from one department to another.
  • Involving choice (alternative): planning can be when there are two or more alternatives and the planner can make a choice for the best, in other words, in the absence of choice there will be no planning because then there is a single way of doing something i.e. to be adopted.
  • Continuous process: planning is an ongoing process, planning starts before performing the job and them goes an with the activities to be performed to do that job and them just after the competition of the job planning regarding starting the new job. Moreover changes take place in business environment and regular plans are made to face such changes.
  • Flexible: there must be flexibility in planning, because plans are always based on future, which is uncertain. So flexibility will give a chance to make changes as per future requirements.
  • Efficiency of operations: planning is made with the objective of raising efficiency of operations but it is not necessary that efficiency will raised, if may or may not. So the management should make continuous efforts to minimize the cost of wastage and improving the efficiency by use of latest change in technology.
  • Planning is a primary function: planning is the basis or foundation of the management process. All other functions of management are designed its attain the goals set under planning.
  • Planning is the fundamental premise of all management functions: as managerial operations in organizing, staffing, leading, and controlling are designed to support the accomplishment of enterprise objectives, planning logically precedes the execution of all other managerial functions.
  • Planning is closely linked to objectives: each plan specifies the objectives to be attained in the future and the steps necessary to reach them. As Billy E. Goetz said, “plans forecast which actions will tend towards the ultimate objective…Managerial planning seeks to achieve a consistent, coordinated structure of operations focused on desired ends.”
  • The effectiveness of planning is measured in terms of what it contributes to the objectives: a plan is efficient if it, when put into action, brings about the achievement of the objectives with the minimum of unsought consequences and with positive gains greater than the costs.
  • Planning is a pervasive function of management: planning is a function performed by all managers, although the character and breadth of planning will vary with their authority and with the nature of policies and plans outlined by their superiors.
  • Planning is a highly skilful intellectual activity: it involves active use of higher mental process like thinking, innovation or creativity, etc.
  • Planning involves selection among the alternatives: it is a highly selective process in which all the alternatives need to be listed and best alternatives are selected or decided.

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