Organizational Planning Guide: Types of Plans, Steps, and Examples
Organizational planning is like charting your company’s path on a map. You need to know what direction you’re headed to stay competitive.
But what exactly is organizational planning and how do you do it effectively? This guide will cover:
- The different components or types of organizational plans?
- The 5 Process Steps of Organizational Planning
- Organizational Planning Examples
What is Organizational Planning?
Organizational planning is the process of defining a company’s reason for existing, setting goals aimed at realizing full potential, and creating increasingly discrete tasks to meet those goals.
There are four phases of a proper organizational plan: strategic, tactical, operational, and contingency. Each phase of planning is a subset of the prior, with strategic planning being the foremost.
Types of Organizational Planning
A strategic plan is the company’s big picture. It defines the company’s goals for a set period of time, whether that’s one year or ten, and ensures that those goals align with the company’s mission, vision, and values. Strategic planning usually involves top managers, although some smaller companies choose to bring all of their employees along when defining their mission, vision, and values.
The tactical strategy describes how a company will implement its strategic plan. A tactical plan is composed of several short-term goals, typically carried out within one year, that support the strategic plan. Generally, it’s the responsibility of middle managers to set and oversee tactical strategies, like planning and executing a marketing campaign.
Operational plans encompass what needs to happen continually, on a day-to-day basis, in order to execute tactical plans. Operational plans could include work schedules, policies, rules, or regulations that set standards for employees, as well as specific task assignments that relate to goals within the tactical strategy, such as a protocol for documenting and addressing work absences.
Contingency plans wait in the wings in case of a crisis or unforeseen event. Contingency plans cover a range of possible scenarios and appropriate responses for issues varying from personnel planning to advanced preparation for outside occurrences that could negatively impact the business. Companies may have contingency plans for things like how to respond to a natural disaster, malfunctioning software, or the sudden departure of a C-level executive.
The 5 Process Steps of Organizational Planning
The organizational planning process includes five phases that, ideally, form a cycle.
Strategic, tactical, operational, and contingency planning fall within these five stages.
1. Develop the strategic plan
Steps in this initial stage include:
- Review your mission, vision, and values
- Gather data about your company, like performance-indicating metrics from your sales department
- Perform a SWOT analysis; take stock of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
- Set big picture goals that take your mission, vision, values, data, and SWOT analysis into account
2. Translate the strategic plan into tactical steps
At this point, it’s time to create tactical plans. Bring in middle managers to help do the following:
- Define short-term goals—quarterly goals are common—that support the strategic plan for each department, such as setting a quota for the sales team so the company can meet its strategic revenue goal
- Develop processes for reviewing goal achievement to make sure strategic and tactical goals are being met, like running a CRM report every quarter and submitting it to the Chief Revenue Officer to check that the sales department is hitting its quota
- Develop contingency plans, like what to do in case the sales team’s CRM malfunctions or there’s a data breach
3. Plan daily operations
Operational plans, or the processes that determine how individual employees spend their day, are largely the responsibility of middle managers and the employees that report to them. For example, the process that a sales rep follows to find, nurture, and convert a lead into a customer is an operational plan. Work schedules, customer service workflows, or GDPR policies that protect prospective customers’ information all aid a sales department in reaching its tactical goal—in this case, a sales quota—so they fall under the umbrella of operational plans.
Managers may choose to set some plans, such as work schedules, themselves. On the other hand, individual tasks that make up a sales plan may require the input of the entire team. This stage should also include setting goals and targets that individual employees should hit during a set period.
4. Execute the plans
It’s time to put plans into action. Theoretically, activities carried out on a day-to-day basis (defined by the operational plan) should help reach tactical goals, which in turn supports the overall strategic plan.
5. Monitor progress and adjust plans
No plan is complete without periods of reflection and adjustment. At the end of each quarter or the short-term goal period, middle managers should review whether or not they hit the benchmarks established in step two, then submit data-backed reports to C-level executives. For example, this is when the manager of the sales department would run a report analyzing whether or not a new process for managing the sales pipeline helped the team reach its quota. A marketing team, on the other hand, might analyze whether or not their efforts to optimize advertising and landing pages succeeded in generating a certain number of leads for the sales department.
Depending on the outcome of those reviews, your org may wish to adjust parts of its strategic, tactical, or operational plans. For example, if the sales team didn’t meet their quota their manager may decide to make changes to their sales pipeline operational plan.
Organizational Planning Examples
These templates and examples can help you start thinking about how to format your organizational plan.
This is a single page two-year strategic plan for a fictional corporation. Notice that the goals listed in the “Strategic Objectives and Organization Goals” section follow the SMART goals model: They’re specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-based.
This is a two-year action plan for an administration, which could also be described as a tactical plan. Organization-wide goals—aka strategic goals—that are relevant to this department are listed in the top section, while the more tactical goals for the manager of this department are listed below.
Check out this strategic plan template. You’ll notice that tasks for an individual employee fall under operational planning. Note the space within each item for the manager to leave feedback for the employee.
This contingency plan covers how to protect sensitive health information in case of an IT emergency. Details are outlined, including the purpose of the multi-page document, the standards that must be met, and the steps for meeting those standards.
Organizational Planning is Vital for a Successful Business
While organizational planning is a long and complex process, it’s integral to the success of your company. Luckily, the process becomes more automatic and intuitive with regular planning and review meetings. If you need a little more support, consider hiring an organizational planning consultant to help you through the process.
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