There are different types of plans like Objectives, Strategy, Policy, Procedure, Method, Rule, Programme, Budget.
The first step in planning is setting objectives. Objectives, therefore, can be said to be the desired future position that the management would like to reach. Objectives are very basic to the organisation and they are defined as ends which the management seeks to achieve by its operations. Therefore, an objective simply stated is what you would like to achieve, i.e., the end result of activities. For example, an organisation may have an objective of increasing sales by 10% or earning a reasonable rate of return on investment, earn a 20% profit from business. They represent the end point of planning. All other managerial activities are also directed towards achieving these objectives. They are usually set by top management of the organisation and focus on broad, general issues. They define the future state of affairs which the organisation strives to realise. They serve as a guide for overall business planning. Different departments or units in the organisation may have their own objectives.
Objectives need to be expressed in specific terms i.e., they should be measurable in quantitative terms, in the form of a written statement of desired results to be achieved within a given time period.
A strategy provides the broad contours of an organisation’s business. It will also refer to future decisions defining the organisations direction and scope in the long run. Thus, we can say a strategy is a comprehensive plan for accomplishing an organisation objectives. This comprehensive plan will include three dimensions, (i) determining long term objectives, (ii) adopting a particular course of action, and (iii) allocating resources necessary to achieve the objective.
Whenever a strategy is formulated, the business environment needs to be taken into consideration. The changes in the economic, political, social, legal and technological environment will affect an organisations strategy. Strategies usually take the course of forming the organisations identity in the business environment. Major strategic decisions will include decisions like whether the organisation will continue to be in the same line of business, or combine new lines of activity with the existing business or seek to acquire a dominant position in the same market. For example, a company’s marketing strategy has to address certain questions i.e., who are the customers? what is the demand for the product? which channel of distribution to use? what is the pricing policy? and how do we advertise the product. These and many more issues need to be resolved while formulating a marketing strategy for any organisation.
Policies are general statements that guide thinking or channelise energies towards a particular direction. Policies provide a basis for interpreting strategy which is usually stated in general terms. They are guides to managerial action and decisions in the implementation of strategy. For example, the company may have a recruitment policy, pricing policy within which objectives are set and decisions are made. If there is an established policy, it becomes easier to resolve problems or issues. As such, a policy is the general response to a particular problem or situation.
There are policies for all levels and departments in the organisation ranging from major company policies to minor policies. Major company policies are for all to know i.e., customers, clients, competitors etc., whereas minor polices are applicable to insiders and contain minute details of information vital to the employees of an organisation. But there has to be some basis for divulging information to others.
Policies define the broad parameters within which a manager may function. The manager may use his/her discretion to interpret and apply a policy. For example, the decisions taken under a Purchase Policy would be in the nature of manufacturing or buying decisions. Should a company make or buy its requirements of packages, transport services, printing of stationery, water and power supply and other items? How should vendors be selected for procuring supplies? How many suppliers should a company make purchases from? What is the criteria for choosing suppliers. All these answers would be addressed by the Purchase Policy.
Procedures are routine steps on how to carry out activities. They detail the exact manner in which any work is to be performed. They are specified in a chronological order. For example, there may be a procedure for requisitioning supplies before production. Procedures are specified steps to be followed in particular circumstances. They are generally meant for insiders to follow. The sequence of steps or actions to be taken are generally to enforce a policy and to attain pre-determined objectives. Policies and procedures are interlinked with each other. Procedures are steps to be carried out within a broad policy framework.
Methods provide the prescribed ways or manner in which a task has to be performed considering the objective. It deals with a task comprising one step of a procedure and specifies how this step is to be performed. The Methods may vary from task to task. Selection of proper method saves time, money and effort and increases efficiency. For imparting training to employees at various level from top management to supervisory, different methods can be adopted. For example for higher level management orientation programmes, lectures and seminars can be organised whereas at the supervisory level, on the job training methods and work-oriented methods are appropriate.
Rules are specific statements that inform what is to be done. They do not allow for any flexibility or discretion.
It reflects a managerial decision that a certain action must or must not be taken. They are usually the simplest type of plans because there is no compromise or change unless a policy decision is taken.
Programmes are detailed statements about a project which outlines the objectives, policies, procedures, rules, tasks, human and physical resources required and the budget to implement any course of action. Programmes will include the entire gamut of activities as well as the organisation’s policy and how it will contribute to the overall business plan. The minutest details are worked out i.e., procedures, rules, budgets, within the broad policy framework.
A budget is a statement of expected results expressed in numerical terms. It is a plan which quantifies future facts and figures. For example, a sales budget may forecast the sales of different products in each area for a particular month. A budget may also be prepared to show the number of workers required in the factory at peak production times.
Since budget represents all items in numbers, it becomes easier to compare actual figures with expected figures and take corrective action subsequently. Thus, a budget is also a control device from which deviations can be taken care of. But making a budget involves forecasting, therefore, it clearly comes under planning. It is a fundamental planning instrument in many organisations.
Let us take an example of Cash Budget. The cash budget is a basic tool in the management of cash. It is a device to help the management to plan and control the use of cash. It is a statement showing the estimated cash inflows and cash outflows over a given period. Cash inflows would generally come from cash sales and the cash outflows would generally be the costs and expenses associated with the operations of the business. The net cash position is determined by the cash budget i.e., inflows minus (–) outflows = surplus or deficiency.
The management has to hold adequate cash balances for various purposes. But at the same time, it should avoid excess balance of cash since it gives little or no return. The business has to assess and plan its need for cash with a degree of caution.
The different types of plans discussed above are listed below: