What Is Operational Planning | 4 mins read

What is Operational Planning? How to Create an Operational Plan

what is operational planning how to create an operational plan
Lauren Christiansen

By Lauren Christiansen

Introduction -What is Operational Planning?

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Achieving business success is impossible without organizing all of the strategic goals, budgets, and roles/responsibilities, company careers required to maintain a strategic operational business. Larger businesses with many different departments and office locations must make sure to create a specific high level plan for each separate business unit in order to optimize resource allocation and meet key performance indicators.

Case studies show that an operational plan will ensure that each team completes tasks on time, knows exactly what to do, and is held accountable for their actions. Read ahead to understand what operational planning is, along with the best practices for creating strategic plans to measure progress, goals/objectives.

  • Sets objectives and motivates people to achieve goals
  • Optimizes teamwork and collaboration
  • An operations plan increases productivity
  • Increases number of organized workflows
  • Minimizes waste and plan business needs
  • Budgets for any real estate, office space, or equipment

What is Operational Planning?

Operational planning occurs when a business unit inferences an organization-wide strategic plan and tailors it towards its own needs. The purpose of management planning is to outline short term department objectives and expenses to ensure a strategic plan is successfully implemented for the next one year to three years.

It is most effective when each team member is included in the planning process so everyone knows exactly what is expected to meet business goals. If each business unit effectively implements an operational plan, an organization can increase its bottom line, decrease inefficiencies, and properly allocate resources.

Here are the best practices for developing an operational plan

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1. What is Operational Planning? - Begin with a Vision

Any type of business plan requires a vision or a list of clear goals, along with the personnel needed to complete them. A vision strategic plan outlines where the business unit wishes to be within the next five years. Everyone in the department should easily be able to repeat and understand the vision statement.

A company should keep in mind the clearly defined goals, the required personnel, and any tasks needed to achieve those objectives when mapping out their statement.

2. What is Operational Planning? - Identify Goals

To determine which objectives to include in strategic planning, the business unit should consider putting the following elements in its operational plans -

  • Budget- What the budget was in the previous year and where it is currently
  • Team Needs- The team's current activities, how much money is needed, and what resources are required
  • Team Goals- The team's requirements to meet goals for the next 1-3 years
  • Activities- The tasks required for the business unit to meet objectives
  • Required Benchmarks- The specific deadlines and metrics used to track progress towards meeting goals. This may include the number of customer service problems resolved, percentage of revenue increases, or the number of good reviews received during a particular time frame.

3. What is Operational Planning? - Generate a Report

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Once the operational plan is generated, the business unit should develop a procedure for reporting the progress towards meeting KPIs. Executives and department supervisors are required to evaluate each department's operational plan every so often to make certain that activities and goals are on schedule.

One helpful solution is to invest in an optimized business intelligence solution such as a dashboard. Dashboards integrate with different software systems, optimize project management, and generate reports with powerful visuals.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

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4. What is Operational Planning? - Adjust Plan as Needed

It's important to revisit the operational plan from time to time to align it with new company needs and objectives. If certain tasks outlined in the plan are not working the way they were originally planned, it's perfectly acceptable to tweak them until they do.

Most project management software can easily drill down into each business activity to know exactly which workflows or tasks are inefficient and exceed the department budget. It's also helpful to gain feedback from other team members before adjusting a task or goal to ensure the adjusted plan is approved by everyone.

By utilizing an optimized software system, businesses can make quick changes to an operational plan and send them out to everyone's email address in just a few minutes.

  • Adjust the method that you and your team plan
  • Begin by analyzing department specific goals
  • Allow for discussion outside meetings
  • Set shorter timelines for feedback and results
  • Collaborate between departments
  • Shift short-term goals towards current priorities

What is Operational Planning? - Key Takeaways

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Here is what to know about operational planning -

  • To write an operational plan, the department should begin by defining its vision. It's important to keep the required tasks, goals, and personnel in mind when curating this vision.
  • Next, the plan create a list of key objectives for the next 1-3 years. Aspects to keep in mind include the budget, team needs, team goals, required activities, and required benchmarks.
  • A strategic plan include reports. These should be regularly generated to track the progress towards meeting the business unit goals. Dashboards are helpful tools for monitoring projects, performing analysis, and creating reports.
  • Adjusting the plan operational plan regularly is essential when company needs and required outcomes evolve. Gaining feedback from each team member is also important to ensure everyone agrees with the new plan.

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