Operational plans are basically plans that focus and cover the day-to-day, week-to-week and monthly operation and running of the business. It is particularly used to cover shorter periods of time and have specific details of how the overall objectives are to be achieved. When designing a set of operational plans there should have a built in flexibility so that it can quickly response to any changes in the business environment or competitors actions. Operational plans are carried out by middle- level managers and first- level managers as they are the first to see changes and in a good position to comment.
Strategic plans are design and mean for long term usually for three years or more. Strategic plans involve a more in-depth and broader view of the overall organization (The need to consider more factors). Strategic planning considers both environmental factors on the outside and organization factors on the inside. Strategic planning looks beyond immediate circumstances, where top- management try to project market conditions into the future. It directly refers to a comprehensive plan of action made out to achieve the long-term objectives of the organization. Strategic plans establish long-term intentions while operational plans lay down the short-term action programmes to realise these intentions. Strategic plans are develop from top- management and executives, as their roles are more strategic oriented, where they focus heavily on long term objectives rather than day- to- day operation of the business.
Strategic planning involves too much time, money and manpower, the process can take up too much time that when decisions are finally made, the environment may have changed. Organizations nowadays are spending lesser time on detailed long-term plans and wouldn't want to constraint themselves in certain business situations. They have instead developed multiple future scenarios planning just to counter sudden changes in the business environment. This is proven to be a more sensible approach, as organizations are able to respond faster to changes before their competitors do as the business environments are becoming more unpredictable and uncertain.
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Too much bureaucracy and detail will paralyse activity. Over- emphasis on planning at the expense of vision and learning can have a similar effect.I certainly felt that Miss Mary is wrong in ignoring the importance to plan for the future. Personally I can't even ignore planning for the next day, what's more when Miss Mary is steering a $3 million business and there's still potential for growth. It is unwise to spend her time and effort meeting every day's problems as problems can constantly wear down Mary's confidence and motivation in running the business. It can affect the company's overall performance too.
Definition of planning: Planning is define as a process that involves defining the organization's objectives or goals, establishing an overall strategy for achieving those goals, and developing a comprehensive hierarchy of plans to integrate and coordinate activities. (Robbins and Coulter, 1996, p. 212) Planning is an essential management function- before we can get down to organising, directing and controlling the organization's activities, we must first have a plan. (Gabriel, 1989, p. 79)
Planning involves selecting objectives and then, determining the means of achieving them. Every employee in the organization right from the top-management to managers and to production workers will have a role to play and a direction to follow, example: what to do, how to do it, when to do it, whom to do it, which in return will come back to the organization goals and objectives. Survival and growth of an organization depend greatly on effective planning. With effective planning an organization can stimulate higher profits, higher return on assets and other positive results and will logically be able to contribute to higher performance through out the organization then those who are not involves in planning.
The importance of planning for Miss Mary's company if it is to survive and continue to grow are as follows: Firstly, planning generates learning and prepares the organization for the future: Planning involves in-depth analysis and this led to further learning and will prepare themselves for the uncertain future. If Miss Mary's company are to be involve in planning than there will be a chance for the top- management to have better understanding on both the market and their competitors. The staffs will learn and prepare themselves to handle changes and develop appropriate responsive actions. This can be recognise, as a form of advantage over other competitors who were not involve in planning. It is an influential factor for future survival as only understanding the future can lead to planning for further growth and expansion.
One who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be endangered in a hundred engagements. One who does not know the enemy but knows himself will sometimes be victorious, sometimes meet with defeat. One who knows neither the enemy nor himself will invariably be defeated in every engagement. (Sawyer, 1993, p. 162) In fact Mary's company has already shown tremendous growth for the past three years and it would be 100% logical to plan ahead, learn and understand their competitors, and act accordingly to the future market in the fashion industry.
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