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Planning is defined as the systematic process of identifying the objectives of an organization and determining the best course of action to take to achieve these objectives.

Planning, according to Koontz is defined as "deciding in advance – what to do, when to do & how to do. It bridges the gap from where we want to be".

“Planning is deciding the best alternatives among others to perform different managerial operations to achieve the predetermined goals.–Henry fayol

It is the process of deciding how the organization can get where it wants to go.

Planning involves selecting from among alternative future courses of action for an organization and every department or section within it.

Definitions of planning

It is the basic function of management and involves the determination of the course of action to achieve a particular goal.

Planning can also be defined as anticipating future events and determining the best course of action to attain specific goals and objectives.

It is the primary managerial function that involves identifying the organizational goals, creating strategy for achieving the goals, and developing plans for the work activities of the organization.

Planning is never-ending activity as managers must regularly modify and revise their plans in light of new situations and variables.

Planning involves making decisions about objectives and activities that an individual, group , work unit, or organization will pursue in the future.

The main purpose of planning is to give management a roadmap on what they should do in the future to achieve the organizational goal.

Features Of Planning

1. It is futuristic: Planning is futuristic because it entails deciding what should be done, how it should be done, and who should do it.

It entails looking into the future, analyzing it, and devising a strategy to prepare for it

2. It is the primary function of management: Planning is the primary management function, as it serves as the basis and building block of the organizing, staffing, influencing, leading and controlling functions of management.

This is often referred to as the primacy of planning.

Indeed, all other functions are performed within the framework of the laid down Plans. 

Therefore, if there is no plan, there is every likelihood that the other function of management would be ineffective.

3. It is a continuous process:  Planning is a continuous process, not a one-time event.

Because future events may not go as planned, planning must be made and adjusted regularly to cater for such deviation

Because of this, planning is a continuous process.

4. It is pervasive: Planning is a function of all levels of management, and all managers, regardless of their position in the organization, are required to make at least one plan.

Planning is not just the function of top managers or the staff members of the planning department, it is also the function of middle-level managers and lower-level managers.

It is not an exclusive function of any top management or any level of managers. 

All managers require planning if they are to achieve organizational goals effectively and efficiently.

5. It involves making decisions: Planning is essentially about anticipating future events and choosing the course of the action to follow from many alternatives available.

6. It is flexible: Plans are made based on forecasts.

Since the future may not turn out as expected, planning must be flexible enough to accommodate changes in future conditions.

7. An intellectual process: Planning involves thinking creatively and strategically. It involves making sound judgement and thinking rationally.

Hence, planning is an intellectual process.

8. It is goal-oriented: Planning is not just done for pleasure, it is done to achieve certain objectives.

The objectives of planning should be clearly stated, otherwise, it would be misdirected.

Importance Of Planning

1. Focus on the objective: When plans are made, the objectives of the organization will be clear and free of any ambiguity.

With a plan in place, the objective of the organization is clear and everyone in the organization understands what is expected of them.

2. Assist in decision making: Planning assists organizations in determining the best course of action to take.

Because a business's objectives and actions are clearly specified in the plan, it aids managers in making decisions about resources and operations.

3. Anticipates problems and deviation: planning is the anticipation of future events and deciding on the course of action to be taken.

In anticipating future events, a business will have to collect relevant data and information which will help it in forecasting the future accurately.

4. Goal-oriented: The setting of objectives is at the heart of planning.

As a result, planning makes firms goal-oriented by ensuring that everyone understands what is required of them to attain certain objectives.

5. Tackles uncertainty: Planning involves anticipation of future events and predicting the future using the amount of information available.

This helps the business to bring about some certainty to an otherwise uncertain future.

6. Reduces haphazard decisions: Planning reduces aimlessness or lack of direction.

It sets the organisation's focus on particular objectives and ensures that every decision that the organizations make is aimed at achieving the objectives.

Advantages Of Planning

1. Makes for easy achievement of organizational goals: To achieve organisational objectives and goals, managers must first plan carefully.

Setting objectives is the first stage in planning. 

Once these objectives have been established and are well-defined, achieving them becomes simple.

2. Promotes better coordination: When the plans and objectives are clearly stated, there will be a sense of unity and focus on achieving the goal.

When the right plan is in place, there will be better coordination as every resource of the organisation is directed towards the achievement of a particular objective

3. Ensures better utilization of resources: Planning also aids inefficient use of resources.

This is because planning entails selecting a course of action from a variety of options that will result in the efficient achievement of organizational goals.

4. Required for controlling: Planning and controlling are complementary functions of management

While planning set the objectives and laid down performance standards, controlling helps check for deviation from standards and plans.

Therefore, a good planning system is essential for a sound controlling system.

5. Improves worker's motivation: Planning increases workers' motivation because they know clearly what is expected of them.

Limitations or Criticisms Of Planning

1. Might not be effective: Planning is made from available data and mere forecasts. Hence, if the available data is incorrect, the planning may not be effective.

Moreover, changes in the estimated and anticipated conditions may render planning ineffective.

2. External factors: External factors beyond the planner's control can sometimes limit the effectiveness of planning.

For example, if a war breaks out, a manager's plan may become obsolete and irrelevant.

3. Time-consuming: The benefits of planning are sometimes diminished by the time factor.

Planning requires collecting information, analyzing the information and interpreting the information.

All of this costs time and money. And, if planning isn't thoroughly completed, many business operations may be pushed back or delayed.

In fact, when time is of the essence, advanced planning may not be the best option.

For example, when an urgent decision is required to be taken in production, one cannot wait for planning to be completed.

4. Unsuitable for emergencies: Due to its time-consuming nature, planning may not be suitable for emergencies.

If, for example, the government put legislation that requires that every business take certain action immediately, planning may not be required. 

What is required here is quick action, which may not necessarily involve planning.

5. Rigidity: The existence of a plan imposes a rigid framework on a manager's activities.

Managers must carry out their responsibilities by their plans, and deviations from those plans may not be tolerated.

This makes managers and employees inflexible to changes to the business environment.

6. Misdirection: Planning may be misdirected to serve individual interest rather than organizational interest

This is because planning is done by individuals and these individuals have their likes, dislikes, preferences and interest.

All of these may be reflected in the planning.


To summarize, planning is the systematic process of identifying the objective of the organization and deciding the best course of action that will achieve the objectives of an organization.

We pointed out that planning is the primary function of management because it comes before other functions of management abd forms the basis for other management functions.

We also noted that Future-oriented, continuous, goal-oriented, intellectual, and pervasive processes are characteristics of planning.

Planning has several importance including, put focus on objective, assists in decision making, tackles uncertainty and anticipate deviation.

The benefits of planning include improved coordination, better controlling, better resource use, and increased employee motivation.

On the flip side, planning has some noticeable limitations, such as it creates rigidity, it  is unsuitable for emergency and lastly, external factors can limit it.

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