Meaning of Planning

It is the basic function of management. It deals with chalking out a future course of action and deciding in advance the most suitable action for the achievement of pre-determined goals. Planning is a future course of action. It is an activity of problem-solving and decision-making. Planning is the determination of courses of action to achieve desired objectives. Thus, planning is systematic thinking about ways and means for the accomplishment of pre-determined goals. Planning is necessary to ensure the proper utilisation of human and non-human resources. It is all-pervasive, it is an intellectual activity and it also helps in avoiding uncertainties, confusion, risks, wastages etc.

Definition of Planning

According to Henry Fayol, “Planning is deciding the best alternatives among others to perform different managerial operations to achieve the pre-determined goals”.

According to Koontz and O’ Donnel, “Planning is deciding in advance what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and who is to do it. Planning bridges 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 detailed programme about future courses of action. It is rightly said, “Well the plan is half done”. Therefore planning takes into consideration available and prospective human and physical resources of the organisation to get effective coordination, contribution and perfect adjustment.

Nature of Planning 

The nature of planning is discussed below.

  1. Planning is Goal-Oriented
  2. Planning is Pervasive
  3. Planning is Continuous
  4. Planning Involves Choice
  5. Planning is a Primary Function
  6. Planning is Flexible
  7. Planning is Futuristic
  8. Planning is a Mental Exercise

1) Planning is Goal-Oriented: Organisations are set up with a common purpose in view. Specific goals are set out in the plans alongwith the activities to be undertaken to achieve the goals. Thus, planning is purposeful. Planning has no meaning unless it contributes to the attainment of predetermined organisational objectives.

2) Planning is a Primary Function: Planning lays down the base for other management functions. All other managerial functions are conducted within the framework of plans drawn. Thus, planning precedes other functions.  It is also referred to as primacy planning. The different functions of management are interrelated and equally important. However, planning provides the foundation of all other functions.

3) Planning is Pervasive: Planning is needed at all levels of management as well as in all departments of the organisation. It is neither an exclusive function of top management nor of any individual department. But the scope of planning varies at different levels and among different units.

4) Planning is Flexible: Plans are drawn based on forecasts. Since the future is uncertain, planning must cope with changes in future situations. Activities planned with some assumptions about the future may not come true. Under the circumstances, the actual action plan must be revised in light of changing conditions.

5) Planning is Continuous: Plans are prepared for a specific period, maybe for a month, a quarter, or a year. At the end of that period, there is a need for a new plan to be drawn up based on new necessities and future conditions. Hence, planning is a never-ending activity. It is a continuous process.

6) Planning is Futuristic: Planning involves looking ahead and preparing for the future. The purpose of planning is to effectively meet future events to the best of an organisation.  It means peeping into the future, analysing it and predicting it. Planning is, therefore, considered a forward-looking function based on forecasting. Through forecasting, future events, possibilities and conditions are anticipated and plans are drawn accordingly.

7) Planning Involves Choice: Planning essentially involves a choice among various alternatives and activities. If there is one possible objective or only one possible course of action, there is no need for planning because there is no choice. The need for planning occurs only when alternatives are available. In actual practice, planning presupposes the existence of choices. 

8) Planning is a Mental Exercise: Planning requires applying the mind to foresight, intelligent imagination and sound judgment. It is primarily an intellectual activity of thinking rather than doing. because planning determines the action taken. However, thinking for planning needs logical and systematic thinking rather than guessing or wishful thinking.

Nature of Planning

Purpose of Planning 

The purpose of planning can be understood with the help of the following points:

  1. Reduce Uncertainty
  2. Bring Cooperation and Coordination
  3. Economy in Operation
  4. Anticipate Unpredictable Contingencies
  5. Achieving the Pre-determined Goals
  6. Reduce Competition

1) Reduce Uncertainty: The future is uncertain. Planning may convert uncertainty into certainty. This is possible to some extent by, planning which is required to reduce uncertainty.

2) Bring Cooperation and Coordination: Planning can bring cooperation and coordination among various sections of the organisation. The conflicts and rivalries among departments could be avoided through planning. Besides this, planning avoids duplication of work.

3) Economy in Operation: As already pointed out, planning selects the best alternatives among various available alternatives. This will lead to the effective utilisation of resources. The objectives of the organisation are achieved efficiently.

4) Anticipate Unpredictable Contingencies: Some events could not be predicted. These events are termed contingencies. These events may affect the smooth functioning of a business. The planning provides a provision to fulfil such contingencies and tackle them successfully.

5) Achieving the Predetermined Goals: Planning activities are aimed at achieving the objectives of the company. The timely achievements of goals are possible only through effective planning. 

6) Reduce Competition: The presence of competition enables the company to get a chance for growth. At the same time, stiff competition should be avoided. It is possible to reduce competition through planning.

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