“Core” Sequence of Planning Information

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Sections of this topic

    “Core” Sequence of Planning
    Information

    (includes typical outline of planning document)

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.
    Adapted from the Field Guide to Nonprofit Strategic Planning and Facilitation and
    Field Guide to Nonprofit Program Design, Marketing and Evaluation.

    One of the major functions of management is planning. There
    are numerous types of plans, for example, business plans, strategic
    plans, project plans, program plans — and on and on and on. (The
    library topic “Planning” describes many of these types
    of plans in business and management.) Most planning processes
    typically use the same “core” sequence of planning activities.
    The complexity and duplication of this “core” sequence
    depends very much on the nature and needs of the organization.

    Basic Sequence of Planning Information
    Sequence in a Large Organization
    Sequence in a Small Organization
    Typical Outline of Planning Document

    Also consider
    Related Library Topics


    “Core”
    Sequence of Planning Information

    At the core of most planning processes is the same
    basic sequence of planning information, including:

    • What goals are to be achieved (Goals are usually major accomplishments,
      results, outcomes, or “end states” to be achieved.
      It’s ideal if goals can be worded such that it’s obvious whether
      they’ve been reached or not.)
    • Who’s responsible to reach the goal
    • How they will reach the goal (that is, what strategies, or
      methods, they will use)
    • When they will reach the goal

    The complexity of the sequence depends very much on the nature
    and needs of the organization.

    Sequence for
    a Large Organization

    The strategic planning document for a large, multi-national
    organization can be many pages long, with numerous overall goals,
    associated strategies/methods to reach the goals, associated objectives/milestones
    along the way while implementing the methods, and listings of
    who’s responsible to achieve each objective and by when.

    In the various divisions in that large company, the above sequence
    might be repeated again, but on a somewhat smaller scale. In departments
    in the division, the above sequence might be repeated again, but
    on a somewhat smaller scale, etc.

    The following sequence might be typical to each of top levels
    of this type of large organization.

    • Each overall goal that should have be reached when the plan
      is implemented (for levels other than the very top level of the
      organization, each overall goal is usually directly associated
      with overall goals of the next-higher-up level of the organization)
    • Who is primarily responsible to reach each overall goal
    • Overall methods/strategies to be used to reach each overall goal
    • Who is primarily responsible to implement each method/strategy
    • Specific objectives/milestones to be achieved along way to
      each overall goal
    • Who is primarily responsible to achieve each objective
    • Specific methods/tactics to be used to achieve each objective
    • Who is primarily responsible to implement each method/tactic
    • For each objective, a date when the objective should be reached
    • For each objective, a section to provide status on the progress
      toward reaching that objective
    • For each objective, a section to provide comments about status.

    Sequence in
    a Small Organization

    A small organization might use the following sequence.

    • Each overall goal that should have be reached when the plan
      is implemented
    • Who is primarily responsible to reach each overall goal
    • Overall methods/strategies to be used to reach each overall
      goal
    • Specific objectives/milestones to be achieved along way to
      each overall goal
    • For each objective, a date when the objective should be reached
    • For each objective, a section to provide status on the progress
      toward reaching that objective
    • For each objective, a section to provide comments about status.

    Typical Outline
    of Planning Document

    Executive Summary

    • One- to two-page section that highlights important points
      from the plan (this summary is not a listing of the plan’s
      contents — that’s a Table of Contents)
    • Purpose of the plan
    • Results the plan is intended to achieve when completed
    • Who has primary responsibility for ensuring the plan is completed
    • Key roles of others in the organization, for example, for
      authorization, reviews, etc.
    • When the plan will be started and completed
    • Might include who has copies of the plan
    • Might include who can be contacted with questions, etc.
    • Might include descriptions of who was involved in the planning
      and what planning process was used
    • Might include very brief wording about structure of
      plan and how to use it

    Table of Contents

    Introduction

    • This section usually includes more information about key
      topics than was included in the Executive Summary, including
      who has primary responsibility for implementation of the plan,
      when the plan will start and stop, who can be contacted for information
      about the plan, how to use the plan, etc.

    Description of the Organization (description of the larger
    context of the plan)

    • Overall mission of organization, or description of major
      function that this plan contributes to

    Goals, Objectives, Responsibilities and Timelines

    • (As noted above, the extent of this section depends on the
      nature and needs of the organization. This section is often best
      depicted in the form of a table.)

    Procedure to Monitor Implementation of the Plan

    • Description of when the plan will be reviewed
    • Who will review the plan
    • Description of what will be considered during review of the
      plan

    Appendices

    • Description of the planning process that was used
    • Listing of who was involved
    • Any supplemental information, such as budgets, etc.
    • Authorization lists of who can have copies of the plan and
      who has copies now, etc.
    • Recommendations to improve the planning process in the future

    For the Category of Planning and Project Management:

    To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

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