What is a Plan?
A plan is a set of steps, processes, or actions that are to be taken in the future to achieve some desired goals. Plans action is future-oriented and how to achieve it is determined in advance.
A plan is intellectual in nature, in which in advance fixed about how to do it, where, what, when, why, and by who. As such doing such planning a detailed study is done about the future circumstances.
Generally, a plan is a list of your future actions, where you are preparing your footsteps to do something to achieve your goal. But, for better planning, one should need to have good knowledge, skills, ability.
A better plan makes a clear roadmap for your goal. Which goes through a clear evaluation of opportunities and related factors and selecting the best option that has the highest potentiality to get you to your goal.
Some of the essential features of a plan are as follows.
Goal-Oriented. Plan or planning is always goal-oriented. Planning starts when someone has to achieve something in the future. Suppose, you want to get 95% marks in the final exam. From today you may start making schedules on reading time, exercising, walking, etc. which reflects your efforts are goal-oriented.
Future–Oriented. The planning is future-oriented. It is about making decisions today and implementing them in the future. Its main goal is to secure uncertain events from the future.
Continuous Activity. It is a continuous activity. In an organization, if a plan is made, its existence remains till the existence of the organization. Similarly to the individual, it is continuous, if through it a goal is achieved, the next plan is made to realize future anticipated goals.
Intellectual Work. It is also an intellectual work of an individual. To make a better action plan, a person needs to have good judgment skills, intelligence, imagination, and knowledge of evaluating various alternatives before expressing it.
Flexible. Plans need to be flexible. A static one may succeed one time but may not succeed in another time. Due to unpredictable future events, the plan needs to have the flexibility to adapt to the changing situations as the way situations arise.
Actionable. One of the most important features of a plan is actionability. It must be actionable i.e. must have the quality to implement it effectively and efficiently. It must not remain on paperwork only.
How To Make A Plan?
To make an action plan, you need to go through some sequential steps. While you are planning, you are creating a blueprint that includes where you are now (start) and where you want to be in the future.
Since explained, it must be actionable. It should be moved into action (implementation) from the paperwork. Here, now we will discuss how you can make an action plan and implement it to achieve your desired goals.
The essential step to making an action plan is to identify and understand opportunities available in the market. This is the pre-step before setting a goal or objective.
In the market, there may be both threats and opportunities. You will need to identify and understand what are opportunities to you and what are threats.
As such, a manager does SWOT analysis before determining an organizational goal maybe you should also do a SWOT analysis of yourself. Identify your strengths and weakness which makes clear to you to what extent you are capable to handle threats and grab opportunities.
For example, if you are looking for jobs, any job vacancies available in the market are an opportunity for you.
Set A Goal or Objective
The second step of planning is to set a goal. Here, you will decide what you really want to achieve through your planned steps. Once decided on the goal, write it down which helps you to remember.
The goal or objective to be achievable should have a SMART force i.e. a goal should be SMART. Which indicates (full form) is,
- Specific. Specific means your goal should be defined in a way through which one can clearly understand what the goal is. The specific goal may be getting a job in an IT company, making $10,000 per month not just a desire to make money.
- Measurable. This refers, your goal should be seen how it is realized. The progress of achieving your goal should be measured.
- Achievable. You should decide your goal which you think you are capable of, which challenges you, not one that is impossible.
- Realistic. Your goal should make sense, over-ambitious and unpractical goals may not lead you near to the target.
- Time-Bound. In a simple sense, your goal should be achievable within a specified period of time.
In addition, set a goal that is specific, clear, practical, and relevant to your ability, resources, and opportunities.
In planning making, premises means making assumptions of the future which is basically done due to an uncertain future environment.
It can not be said that once a goal is set it will be achieved. Because of the various uncertain situation, it may be disturbed. You have to decide what further action you would take if something unexpected happens.
Your premises may be tangible or intangible. Tangible such as your budget, investment, time available – intangible such as your motivation, attitude, consistency.
Once the premises are made, your further step is to identify all the available alternatives i.e. opportunities. There may be lots of alternatives relevant to your goal which may also have similar merits and demerits.
For clear identification, you have to recognize all the likely alternatives. As such, it becomes a basis for the formulation of your plan.
In this step of making a plan, all the identified options are tested and evaluated – mainly on the basis of cost and benefits. For effective evaluation, you may make a profile of each alternative and make a comparison.
Further, evaluating alternatives such as factors cost to achieve the option, benefits from the alternative, risks associated with it, your premises, resources, etc. are taken into consideration.
After all, the evaluation of alternatives should be helpful for the selection of the best alternative, if not there is less chance of realizing the desired goal.
Select The Best Alternative
In the planning process, the selection of the best alternative is the most important, rational, and intellectual task. Here, the best option is selected from all the available.
The best alternative is one that has high potential benefits to you and also matches your premises, budget, and capability.
In addition, you may choose an alternative that has less cost but gives you satisfactory benefits.
Make Supportive Plans
Once the best option is selected i.e. the main plan, it is important to make some supportive plans. Supportive plans are essential to make effective implementation of the main plan.
Developing supportive plans is like hiring some workers to do your tasks to get you near to the goal. Supportive plans lead to easier, less risky, and more result-driven tasks.
For example, you are going to host a seminar – such as sponsoring, advertising, getting proper training are the supportive plans to make your seminar successful.
Implement The Plan
Once successfully the best alternative and necessary supportive plans are made, in this step the plan actually comes into action. If the plan is not implemented it only remains on paperwork. A plan must be implemented since it is prepared to achieve something.
Implementation of the plan is the second last stage. To make it more effective you may communicate with relevant members who might add some positive vibes to the succession of your plan.
As such, a plan that has a mutual benefit to both you and your support once has a greater rate of effective implementation and realization of the desired goal.
Review Your Plan
The last step in planning is the follow-up of its performance. Once the plan is implemented, it needs to be reviewed.
A plan does not become successful just by implementing it, it becomes successful by correcting it. If you do not evaluate the performance of your plan, you will never know the exact result. The reviewing is needed to keep the plan on track.
For effective review, you may set the reminder to review your plan and ask yourself what additional steps I have to take to make more progressive my plan. Furthermore, evaluate the performance of your plan, if it does not need any correction – it’s ok, and if needed do correction at the right time.