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Definition of Operational Planning

Essentially, the manager's task is to co-ordinate and organise the resources of the
organisation in the most efficient way to provide the best value for the
organisation's stakeholders. This is true of both profit and non-profit organisations.

The resources available will include people, time, information, money, equipment,
technology, buildings, facilities and land.

This coordination task is complex and therefore the manager needs to create a
formal document called an Operational Plan. This document collects, organises and
communicates a great deal of information that enables the reader to know and
understand what needs to be done, by whom and when to make progress towards
creating the best value for the stakeholders of the organisation.

Generally, it is the task of the manager to create the Operational Plan but it will
usually go through an approval process by the board/committee of the organisation.

Purpose of an Operational Plan

It is important to understand the difference between an "operational plan" and a "strategic plan". The
strategic plan is about setting a direction for the organisation, devising goals and objectives and
identifying a range of strategies to pursue so that the organisation might achieve its goals. The
strategic plan is a general guide for the management of the organisation according to the priorities and
goals ofstakeholders. The strategic plan DOES NOT stipulate the day-to-day tasks and activities involved
in running the organisation.
On the other hand the Operational Plan DOES present
highly detailed information specifically to direct
people to perform the day-to-day tasks required in the
running the organisation. Organisation management
and staff should frequently refer to the operational
plan in carrying out their everyday work. The Operational Plan provides the what, who, when and how

what - the strategies and tasks that must be undertaken

who - the persons who have responsibility of each of the strategies/tasks

when - the timelines in which strategies/tasks must be completed

how much - the amount of financial resources provided to complete each strategy/task

See also "The Role of the Manager in Operational Planning"

The difference between and operational and strategic plans

Strategic Plan

Operational Plan

A general guide for the management of the organisation

A specific plan for the use of the organisation's

resources in pursuit of the strategic plan.

Suggests strategies to be employed in pursuit of the

Details specific activities and events to be undertaken to

organisation's goals

implement strategies

Is a plan for the pursuit of the organisation's mission in

Is a plan for the day-to-day management of the

the longer term (3 - 5 years)

organisation (one year time frame)

A strategic plan enables management to formulate an

An operational plan should not be formulated without

operational plan.

reference to a strategic plan

The strategic plan, once formulated, tends not to be

Operational plans may differ from year to year

significantly changed every year


The development of the strategic plan is a responsibility

The operational plan is produced by the chief executive

shared and involves different categories of stakeholders. and staff of the organisation.

The purpose of the Operational Plan is to provide organisation personnel with a clear picture of their
tasks and responsibilities in line with the goals and objectives contained within the Strategic Plan.
Basically, the Operational Plan is a plan for the implementation of strategies contained within the
Strategic Plan.

It is a management tool that facilitates the co-ordination

of the organisation's resources (human, financial and
physical) so that goals and objectives in the strategic
plan can be ac

Developing an Operational Plan

An Operational Plan is the next step after a Strategic
Plan has been created (see difference between strategic
plan and operational plan).
The task is to take every single strategy contained within the Strategic Plan and allocate resources, set
a timeline and stipulate performance indicators.
Each of these elements is explained below:

Allocating Human Resources

Every strategy must have an "owner" i.e.
somebody has to be responsible for that
strategies implementation. If someone is not made responsible for the strategy, it is highly likely that it
will not be implemented.
In the operational plan, the person responsible for the strategy is generally referred to by their JOB
For example:

Person Responsible

Conduct series of three Clinics for Coaches

Coaching Director

The strategy may be allocated to just one person, or to a group of people e.g. a team of people, a subcommittee or a department.

Allocating Financial Resources

Not every strategy requires money, but most will. If people have to be paid to do work, then there will
be financial resources needed for remuneration. If volunteers are involved, money may be need to be
set aside for food and/or other perks for them. Many strategies will involve administration costs in the
form of telephone calls, printing and photocopying and postage. Some strategies will need purchases of
equipment, or materials, or promotional costs such as advertising.

The point is that thought has to be given to all possible costs that might be incurred if a strategy is
implemented. If there is an inadequate allocation of money for the implementation of a strategy,
chances are it will fail.

Setting Timelines
The implementation of any strategy needs a timeline, that is a time period during which work is
performed to achieve the desired outcome. The time period can be as short as a day, or it can be
several months. The time period could be in the near future, or it might be scheduled for a future year.
The purpose of inserting a timeline for each strategy in the Operational Plan is to give order to the
great many tasks that need to be done. There is always limited resources and therefore, at any given
time, decisions need to be made as to priorities and where work effort should be focused. There is no
use focusing work effort on strategies that don't need to be completed as yet while no work is
performed on strategies that are urgent.
For example:


Submit application for Government funding of

new all weather pitch

Costing completed by 30 March 2013

Submit application by 30 June 2013

Set Performance Indicators

There are a number of reasons why it is a general practice of business planning to set performance
indicators. The term 'performance indicator' may be defined as a standard or target that should be
achieved. If the standard is reached or the target is achieved, then the strategy might be considered as
"performed", in other words a success.
Go to more information about Performance Indicators
For example:

Performance Indicator

Conduct series of three Clinics for Coaches

20 coaches attending each

Host an Open Day

100 visitors from public

Examples of Performance Iindicators

The following are examples of how Performance Indicators may be developed and used in a sporting

Example Performance Indicators

Increase the quality of


The state team will place in the top 10 at the national

championships; or

Reported injuries will be less than half of the previous seasons

figure; or

The number of participant complaints will be no more than 5 during

the year,

A series of three (3) coaching clinics will be held to provide training

for the organisation's coaches; or

A minimum of 20 coaches will attend each coaching clinic

The facility will be accredited as appropriate for national and

international championships and tournaments

Northern Queensland

Clubs will be established and affiliated at Cairns and Mackay; or

The number of affiliated clubs in Northern Queensland will be 5.

Increase in sponsorship

A major state sponsor will be found

Total sponsorship revenue will reach $50,000

Increase the number of


Improve facilities
national standard


n an operational plan there would be typically 8 -10 Key Result Areas (KRA's). For the sake of this
sample, only one KRA is provided.
It should always be remembered that the allocation of strategies to people is a vital element in the
implementation of an operational plan.

Key Result Area Membership Growth


Conduct visits to schools



Two visits per week to


selected schools during


term only




Salary $20,000

Purchase of

Trailer $ $1,000


Advertise major events

Adverts placed in statewide

through print and broadcast

newspapers in March, June


and Sept

Initiate masters competition

Program commences



March and finishes in Sept


Events conducted every


Events self

two months



Quarterly basis: Jan, Apr,




Jul and Sep




Conduct social events

appealing to members 18-25

Effect regular communication

with members 18-25 through


Adverts $1500

Trophies $1,000

The Manager's Role in Operational Planning

An operational plan is a key tool for managing an organisation. It provides the manager with detailed
information on the work that must be done to ensure that planned goals and objectives are achieved.
The management process should involved continual checking of the implementation of the Operational
Plan and exercising control of the organisation's resources to ensure success.
What needs to be checked by the manager if management team includes:

Timelines - have strategies been commenced and will all tasks be completed by the scheduled

Performance Measures - has progress been made according to performance measures? Is it

likely that targets will be met?

Responsibilities - is there anyone having difficulty with the tasks allocated to them? Does there
need to be any reassignment of responsibilities?

Physical Resources - the assignment of assets e.g. equipment, vehicles, space in a building or

Budget - the allocation of money e.g. pay salaries, purchase equipment, hire venues,
undertake advertising and promotion

Methods of control
Managers will therefore need to control the above factors on a week-to-week basis.
This control by managers will involve:

Investigating on a regular basis of what has been achieved, and what has not

Implementing corrective action where tasks are not achieved, or achieve on time

Checking that resources will be available when needed

Supervising, supporting and motivating the people of the organisation to ensure tasks are

Adjusting the operational plan if there is a need

Reporting problems to superiors e.g. directors, committee personnel, the Board Members of
the organisation