Operational planning is a way to take your company’s high-level plan and turn it into a plan with more detail that is designed to be the basis for your company’s strategy in terms of a particular project (or the whole organization) for a small period of time (usually between one and three years). These plans go by a variety of names including project plans, annual plans, business plans and others but no matter what name is given, the basics are the same. Operational plans can help create a clear path for your employees and even help get necessary funding. But how do you create the plan in the first place?
Because operational planning is the basis for your company’s actions for a period of time, it must be done right. Therefore the design stage is essential and as such, it includes several important steps.
Once you have goals as well as ideas of how to achieve them, you are ready to use this information to write the plan. This should include a list of actions that will be done as well as a timetable for completing them. Be sure to include the goals and you carefully created during the initial stages of the operational planning, ensuring that they are SMART. A key part of writing out your plan is also describing how it will be evaluated and in order to do this, you should create a system to determine if it is going as planned.
When writing your operational plan, be sure that it includes room for changes when necessary. It is important to remember that no matter how much planning you do, factors, both internal and external, may affect the timeframe. Because of this, you should include review dates when creating your plan and expect to check the progress as well as functionality of the plan at each of these dates.
Once you have created the planning, ensuring that it is adaptable and includes all of your goals, it is time to ensure that everyone involved in the project (or company, depending on the scope of your operational planning) is not only aware of it, but understands it as well. Remember that people from different areas of your organization may be involved and in order for the operational plan to succeed, everyone must be on the same page. For larger plans that involve the entire company, you can also create slightly different variations that target specific teams with the information most relevant to them.