Everything you need to know about the features of planning. Planning is the fundamental function of management.

All other functions of management like organising, directing, controlling are undertaken after planning. It helps in determining the course of action to the followed for achieving various organisational objectives.

A planner foresees opportunities and devises ways and means to take advantage from them.

Planning is a decision in advance; what to do, when to do, how to do, and who will do a particular task. It is a process which involves thinking before doing. It is concerned with the mental state of a manager.


Some of the features of planning are:-

1. Planning is Primary Function 2. Planning is Pervasive 3. Planning is Future Oriented 4. Planning is Goal-Oriented 5. Planning is Continuous 6. Planning is an Intellectual Process

7. Planning Aims at Efficiency 8. Flexible 9. Forward-Looking Process 10. Foundation of Successful Action 11. Coordination and Cooperation 12. Conscious Process

13. Planning Focuses on Achieving Objectives 14. Planning is Futuristic 15. Planning Involves Decision Making 16. Planning is a Mental Exercise 17. Planning is Base for to all Management Functions 18. Primacy of Planning


19. Selection of Alternatives 20. Efficiency, Economy and Accuracy 21. Limited Factors 22. Planning is Dynamic 23. Planning is Realistic 24. Forecasting is a Prerequisite for Planning 25. Basic Energy and a Few Others.

25+ Features and Characteristics of Planning

Features of Planning – Primary Function, Pervasive, Future Oriented, Goal-Oriented, Continuous, Intellectual Process, Aims at Efficiency and Flexible

There are a lot of views about the features of planning.

Some important features of planning are as follows:

1. Planning is Primary Function:


Planning provides the base for another function of management. It is followed by organising, staffing, directing and controlling. All the managerial functions are performed within the framework of plans. Planning provides the foundation for managerial action by specifying the objectives and the ways of achieving them. Thus, we could say that planning is the most primary function.

2. Planning is Pervasive:

Planning is practiced in all kinds of organisations and each and every level of management. However, the nature and scope of planning is different at different organisations and level of management. For example, top managers plan for the organisation as a whole, while middle level managers propose departmental plans and lower level manager formulate day-to-day operational planes.

3. Planning is Future Oriented:

Planning is looking ahead and preparing for the future which is based on proverb “look before you leap.” It is preparing organisations to meet future challenges and opportunities. To reduce the uncertainty of the future, managers adopt the scientific methods of forecasting. They anticipate future and incorporate changes in their actions to achieve organisational goals effectively.

4. Planning is Goal-Oriented:

Planning seeks to achieve certain goals of the organisation. Planning is a useful exercise when it does contribute in some positive way to the accomplishment of desired objectives. It also ensures the actions that would lead to the desired results quickly and economically.

5. Planning is Continuous:

Plans are prepared for a specific time period. At the end of specific time new plans have to be prepared. On the same way the existing plans must be revised, when change takes place in the conditions. Planning involves choice and it is the process of choosing among alternative course of action. Therefore, we can say planning is an on-going process.


6. Planning is an Intellectual Process:

Creative thinking and imagination of planning is a mental exercise. It depends on Intellect of an human being. If a manager had foresight, vision and sound Judgment then he can prepare sound plans. This is only because planning is not more guess work but involves logical and systematic thinking. A mental predisposition to think before acting is required in planning.

7. Planning Aims at Efficiency:

Plans are designed to achieve the objective in the best manner. Efficiency means “the achievement with the last amount of resources.” A plan is worthless if it is not cost effective. A good plan should provide maximum satisfaction at the last cost.


8. Flexible:

Planning is related to the future and future is uncertain. Plans will fail to achieve the objectives if unfavourable changes take place in future. Managers have to be ready in changing their plans so that changes do not fail the plans. Thus, planning is a flexible activity.

Features (or Characteristics) of Planning – Intellectual Activity, Forward-Looking Process, Foundation of Successful Action, Conscious Process and a Few Others

The planning process has the following inherent characteristics:

i. Intellectual activity – Planning involves foreseeing future developments, making forecasts, and then taking decisions. Planning is an intellectual activity, as it requires certain conceptual and analytical skills. It leads to in-depth study of a problem (or opportunity) to arrive at a best course of action.


ii. Primary function of management – Planning is the first function of management. Planning provides the basis for other managerial functions (such as organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, and controlling). Planning is the basic function and the structure of all other functions depends on it. Planning is the essence of management as it puts management in action.

iii. Forward-looking process – The planning process calls for visualizing the future. It is a technique to see the future in the light of the present. Plans are prepared for implementing them in the future. Planning is intended to cope with future uncertain events and situations. Therefore, planning is futuristic in nature.

iv. Goal-oriented process – Planning is based on certain objectives. Planning contributes to the attainment of these objectives. Planning indicates the instructions, routes, rules, and regulations to be followed in achieving these pre-determined objectives. Therefore, planning is goal-oriented as the purpose of every plan is to facil­itate the accomplishment of organizational goals.

v. Continuous process – The planning cycle continues to operate as long as the organization exists. Planning is like a flowing river. It is a dynamic function and needs continuous review. The execution of one plan initi­ates the formulation of another plan. Effective planning requires continuous monitoring of events for achiev­ing the desired goals. Planning is an on-going process having no definable ends.

vi. Flexible process – Planning should be flexible and able to adjust it to meet future changes and chal­lenges. Planning helps the organization to adjust its activities in response to the changing environment. Planning must cope with changes in future conditions. Existing plans should be revised from time to time for incorporating the changes taking place in the external environment.

vii. Common to all (i.e., all pervasive) – Planning is a pervasive activity covering the entire enterprise with all its segments and levels. Planning is required at all levels of management (top, middle, and lower) and in all departments (purchase, production, personnel, finance, etc.) of an organization. Planning is also essential for all types of organizations (economic, social, political, religious, etc.). Therefore, planning is the prime mover of an organization. It is the basic function of every manager, irrespective of his level and position.


viii. Foundation of successful action – Planning is the foundation of successful action of an enterprise. The main function of planning is to increase the efficiency of the enterprise. Planning aims at the opti­mum utilization of various resources (like materials, men, machines, money, and methods). Efficiency of planning is measured in terms of output-input ratio. Planning leads to maximum output with minimum expenditure.

ix. Coordination and cooperation – Departmental managers resort to planning at different points of time. Managerial actions of different managers are coordinated for achieving the organizational objectives. Planning gives a common direction, guidelines, and instructions. It is essential for the harmonious working of the organization. It brings consistency to executive’s behaviour and action.

x. Conscious process – Planning is a rational and conscious intellectual process. It is not a guess (or sudden) work. It involves an in-depth study and careful analysis of various alternatives and then selecting the best one. It evaluates every alternative with reference to its needs and resources. Planning is also conscious about problems that might arise in future.

Features of Planning – 7 Features of Planning (With Examples)  

Feature # 1. Planning Focuses on Achieving Objectives:

Process of planning begins with setting of general and specific goals for the organisation. All business activities are planned with sole aim of achieving the organisational goals. Thus, the main focus of planning is to achieve the predetermined targets most effectively.

For example, main objective of XYZ Ltd. for the financial year 2014-15 is to increase its sales in the eastern part of India. All sales plans will focus on markets in the eastern part. The plans may include advertising in the magazines which are most read in eastern India, appointing sales managers who have knowledge and experience in that part of the country.

Feature # 2. Planning is a Primary Function of Management:

Planning gives directions for actions and lays down the framework regarding how work is to be, done. All other managerial functions are performed within the framework of the plans drawn. Therefore, planning is the primary function of management, which precedes all other managerial functions.


For example – XYZ Ltd. cannot appoint sales people or establish their office in the eastern part of India unless proper plans are drawn with respect to kind of staff required, place where office will be established, what will be the price of goods to be sold etc.

Feature # 3. Planning is Pervasive:

Planning is required for each and every activity we do. All individuals, all types of organisations and each level of management is involved in planning. Thus planning can be felt and experienced everywhere but the scope may differ at different levels, different organisations and for different activities.

For example – You may plan for your monthly test, your father may plan to set up new business, the CEO of a company may plan to launch a new product, a sales manager may plan to achieve his sales target, a worker may plan his production schedule etc.

Feature # 4. Planning is Continuous:

Plans are prepared for a specific period of time. It could be a five-year plan, yearly plan, quarterly plan, weekly plan or daily plan. At the end of the specific period, managers need to draw new plans as per new requirements and needs of the business environment.

Thus, planning is a continuous process, a plan is framed then it is implemented and after that, again a new plan is framed either on the basis of success of previous plan or may be as per the new requirement The process of framing and implementing plans goes on and on.

For example – Every business prepares forecast for a financial year. At the end of the financial year, the actual results are compared with the forecast to evaluate business performance, and a new forecast for the new financial year is prepared.

Feature # 5. Planning is Futuristic:


Planning is thinking in advance or looking ahead while preparing for future. Planning implies peeping into the future, analyzing and predicting the future requirements of business environment and drafting business plans accordingly. Futuristic planning is nothing but forecasting.

For example – When a company prepares the sales budget or production budget to calculate expected profits or set targets for the forthcoming year it is nothing but planning for future.

Feature # 6. Planning Involves Decision Making:

A business has various goals to achieve and there are plenty of alternative resources which may be used to achieve the predetermined goals. Planning involves analyzing and evaluating available alternatives to select the most effective and efficient course of action.

For example – A business planning to raise funds will evaluate all the available sources like different banks, loan from friends, investors, personal savings etc. to decide which will cost the least in terms of interest and repayments.

Feature # 7. Planning is a Mental Exercise:

Planning requires foresight, intelligence, ability to analyse the given situation or future possibilities to determine the best course of action to be taken. Though planning is thinking rather than doing but it does need logical and systematic evaluation of facts and forecasts.

For example – If a manager has to prepare sales budget for upcoming year, he has to analyse the previous years’ sales data, growth trend of the company, market demands etc. to prepare an authentic, meaningful and achievable budget.

Features of Planning

The basic features of managerial planning are given below:


1. Planning is Base for to all Management Functions:

Planning is a basic function among all Management functions, since managerial operations in organising, staffing, directing and controlling are designed to support the accomplishment of enterprise objectives and goals, Planning logically precedes the execution of all other Managerial functions.

2. Focus on Objectives:

A plan must concentrate on accomplishing certain objectives. It lays down the ways and the means to achieve them. Planning is closely associated with the objectives of the organisation. A plan can focus attention on purposes. It can forecast which actions will tend towards the achievement of ultimate objective.

3. Primacy of Planning:

Planning is the first of the managerial functions to be performed. The beginning phase of the management process is planning. Planning is based upon the organisational objectives. Other managerial operations in organising, staffing directing and controlling are designed to support and accomplish organisational objectives. Planning is indispensable in every activity of the Management.

4. Forward Looking:

Planning is always concerned with looking into the future. It involves forecasting of future environment in which the organisation is expected to function. Planning is intimately related to future. It is forward looking, trying to see, through the uncertain future, what lies ahead.

5. Planning is a Pervasive Function of Management:

Planning is done by all managers, although the scope of planning varies with their authority and with the nature of policies and plans outlined by their superiors. Planning is an important part of every manager’s job. However, the degree of planning skills required will depend upon the manager’s position.

For example, the higher, one goes in the management structure, the more time of his will be spent in planning. Top management is concerned with strategic planning whereas middle management is incharge of administrative planning. Lower management has to concentrate on operational planning.

6. Selection of Alternatives:

Planning is concerned with selecting the best course of action from among the alternatives. Decision making is an integral part of the planning function of management.

7. Efficiency, Economy and Accuracy:

Efficiency of plan is measured by its contribution to the objectives as economically as possible. We must have the maximum results at minimum cost. Planning also focuses on accurate forecasts. Focus of every kind of plan is on determination of the future course of action. But, the “Course of action” can be determined only on the basis of knowledge of future events. This automatically entails the need for the forecasting of future events.

8. Co-Ordination:

Planning co-ordinates all the ‘what, who, how, where and why’ of planning. We cannot have united and synchronised efforts, without co-ordination of all activities.

9. Effectiveness of Planning:

The planning function should be conducted efficiently and effectively, the efficiency and effectiveness of planning is measured by its contribution in reaching organisational objectives versus its corresponding costs. In other words, plans should be developed after due consideration of potential benefits to be received versus costs to be incurred.

10. Limited Factors:

A planner must recognise the limiting factors like money, manpower, materials, machinery and management and formulate plans in the light of these critical factors.

11. Flexibility:

The process of planning should be adaptable to changing environmental conditions. It is a bad plan that admits no modification. A plan must be adjustable, always ready to incorporate internal as well as external changes.

Features of Planning – Pervasive, Conscious Process, Continuous and Permanent Process, Dynamic and Realistic

Plans of different types of business though different in details exhibit the following common characteristics:

1. Planning is all-pervasive- Planning is ubiquitous. It is not the function of one department only. It is also not restricted to top management. It is performed by all departments, and throughout the organisation, at all levels. It is also common in big business and small business. It is common in private business and government business. Planning is therefore very wide­spread function; it is the soul of management.

2. Planning is the first function of management- Planning is the essence of management. Being an intellectual process, it calls for decision making. Management is equated with decision making, and planning is a precursor to decision making. So planning puts management in action.

3. Planning is a conscious process- Planning determined the course of action consciously, basing its decision upon purpose, facts and considered estimates. Planning is not instinctive, it is a conscious intellectual process.

4. Planning is a continuous and permanent process- We make plans when we start business. We make plans when we reorganise business. The plans made are modified in the light of constant feedback about their process. So management does not rest after making plans once, but continues to plan, to make new plan, to correct the old plan and to modify the plan on a continuous and permanent basis. Management Information Systems (MIS) help the planning process.

5. Planning is dynamic- Planned activity does not always follow a planned pattern due to many factors in the environment which affect the plan and which are not in our control. We modify our plans constantly to adapt to the change in the environment.

6. Planning is realistic- Planning outlines the results expected and the nature of the results expected. 

7. Forecasting is a prerequisite for planning- Without forecasting, there cannot be any planning. The planning process starts with the assumption that the future will be different from the present, and it attempts to determine how the enterprise can take the advantage of the difference. “It is a kind of future picture, wherein proximate events are outlined with some distinctness whilst remote events appear progressively less distinct (Fayol).” It will be appreciated now that planning depends upon accurate business forecasting.

Features of Planning – Basic Energy, Goal Oriented, Intellectual, Futuristic, Flexible, Pervasive and Alternative

Deciding in advance what to do and how to do it, laying down a procedures; setting down a policy of implementation; working out costs and output; allocating funds and selecting best alternatives for achieving the goals is the function of planning. In short planning means a scheme drawn up before hand for achieving specific objectives.

Through the task of planning one can decide on what, how, and how much of money, people, equipments etc., are required at a particular period of time.

So planning has some essential features as described below:

1. Basic Energy – If management energises a plan, then planning gives the basic energy and directs the process of mobilising funds and other resources and infect becomes the basis of all other functions.

2. Goal Oriented – Planning is an organisational process which predetermines the goals of the business organisation. Behind a plan are actions aimed at focusing on certain set goals and undertake major tasks for their achievement.

3. Intellectual – In the planning process, a mental picture is made of all types of inputs, outputs and even structures which require knowledge, foresight, intelligent imagination and sound judgement, all parts of an intellectual process

4. Futuristic – Looking ahead, predicting, forecasting complete with charts, figures, facts, actions to be performed, anticipating hurdles and difficulties based on certain assumptions are basic features of planning.

5. Flexible – Projects of Plans envisaged by different departments with current targets and volume of investment may not be achievable at a future date but there are always cushions that allow flexibility in respect of sharing the increased burden.

6. Pervasive – The scope of planning though differs at different levels in different conditions, it pervades at all times and in all departments and divisions. Planning allows ample scope for structural and other adjustments based on certain ‘ifs’ and ‘whys’ like contraction or expansion of demand and other a political changes etc.

7. Alternatives – Planning is the most effective means of making a choice beforehand among many alternatives based on the technology of the future and that available currently.

Features of Planning – What are the Features of Planning

(i) Planning Focuses on Achieving Objectives:

Management begins with planning and planning begins with the determining of objectives. In the absence of objectives, no organisation can ever be thought about. With the determining of objective, the way to achieve the objective is decided in the planning. In case, it is necessary to change the previously decided course of action for the attainment of objectives, there is no hesitation to do so. It is thus clear that planning is helpful in the attainment of objectives.

(ii) Planning is Primary Function of Management:

Planning is the first important function of management. The other functions e.g., organising, staffing, directing and controlling come later. In the absence of planning no other function of management can be performed. This is the base of other functions of management.

(iii) Planning is Pervasive:

Since the Job of Planning is performed by the managers at different levels working in the enterprise, it is appropriate to call it all pervasive. Planning is an important function of every manager; he may be a managing director of the organisation or a foreman in a factory.

The time spent by the higher level managers in the process of planning is comparatively more than the time spent by the middle level and lower level managers. It is therefore, clear that all the managers working in an enterprise have to plan their activities.

(iv) Planning is Continuous:

Planning is a continuous process because –

(a) A plan is prepared for a particular period. Hence, there is need for a new plan after the expiry of-that period.

(b) In case of any discrepancy, plans are to be revised.

(c) In case of rapid changes in the business environment, plans are to be revised.

(v) Planning is Futuristic:

Planning decides the plan of action-what is to be done, how is it to be done when is it to be done, by whom is it to be done, all these questions are related to future. Under planning, answers to these questions are found out. While an effort is made to find out these answers, the possibility of social, economic, technical and changes in legal framework are kept in mind. Since planning is concerned with future activities, it is called futuristic.

Features of Planning – 7 Features of Planning

Feature # 1. Planning is Thinking Process— An Intellectual Exercise:

Planning is concerned with thinking creatively about how the available resources may be adjusted and adapted to exploit the emerging opportunities.

Experience shows that opportunities, if they are not identified and exploited in time, may slip away forever. An opportunity only knocks the door once! So, when faced with opportunity, man­agement should make decisions on – (a) What is to be done; (b) When, where and how it is to be done; and (c) Who is to do it?

Timely and careful thinking today can save the organization from repenting over lost opportunity at leisure all life. What has made Bill Gates world’s richest man or Dhirubhai Ambani’s sons the richest in India? Without doubt, their sense of judgment, courage to take risk and, of course, years of hard dedicated work!

Planning helps an organization to maintain a dynamic balance between the external environment and its objectives based on available human, physical, technological and financial resources. It also enables decision-making on challenges to be tackled and opportunities to be exploited.

Feature # 2. Difference between ‘Forecasting’ and ‘Planning’:

Forecasting and planning have little in common. Forecasting describes what one expects to happen if he does not do something to escape it. Planning describes what one wants to happen and do everything possible to make it happen.

Forecasting may inspire some people to do some planning—like forecast of exhaustion of natural energy resources has led some countries to conserve fossil fuels or develop alternative energy sources like windmills or solar power. Even so, forecasting does not bear compari­son with planning of the organization objectives.

It is true that planning is based on assumptions and judgments that may sometimes be based on computer analysis of data and information. But these will have to relate to availability of resources and opportune time to accomplish the planned objectives. Moreover, planning makes regular review of actual performance and prescribes measures to correct deviations.

Feature # 3. Accomplishment of Group Objectives:

A modern-day work-organization is a mixed group of widely different human beings, each with dif­ferent personality, attitude, skills, knowledge, and motivation-level. It is unlikely that they will work together effectively and consistently to achieve common objectives if this does not promise satisfaction of their own personal objectives.

An investor will give funds to the organization, a lender will lend money to it, and an employee would work for it—only if accomplishment of organization objectives gives them adequate return on capital, interest on money lent, and salary and perks that assure comfortable living.

Feature # 4. Planning Involves Making Choice between Alternatives:

External environment is not constant; the only thing constant about it is—change. So the management must carefully choose the ideal alternative from among the existing alternatives to solve the problem or exploit the opportunity facing it.

It must remember that the mix of resources that was successfully used in the past to tackle a similar situation may not work in the present situation. So, it must develop new strategy and adjust and adapt its available resources to tackle the problems and exploit the oppor­tunity facing it.

The first choice the management has to make is with regard to objectives of the organization- profit maximization, growth and development, market dominance, job creation, employee develop­ment, consumer satisfaction, and so on. The next choice is about suitable strategy to accomplish the objectives.

Thereafter comes the operational part, which means assignment of tasks and duties to indi­viduals and departments, and allocation of human and material resources to them to accomplish the assigned tasks and duties.

Feature # 5. Pervasiveness of Planning:

Planning is the basic condition for an objective-oriented organization. Managers at all levels—top, middle and lower-levels—are all engaged in planning.

Planning process begins with determination of long-term objectives for the organization as a whole. This is the prerogative of owners and top-end management. The next step is determining how the objectives are to be achieved. This involves allocation of resources to individuals and departments.

The last step deals with operational details, namely, assignment of tasks and duties, defining author­ity-responsibility relationships between positions and resources, fixing time-frames for accomplish­ment of objectives at each level, and providing coordination and control mechanism to ensure that all activities are objective-directed and deviations from performance standards are quickly addressed.

Involvement of middle and lower-level management in planning activity will give them sense of belonging to the organization and necessary ego-boost; they will work with enthusiasm treating orga­nization objectives as challenges to them to meet.

Feature # 6. Planning to be Flexible to Meet Needs of a Given Situation:

Successful running of an organization involves adjusting and adapting internal resources to solve problems and exploit opportunities provided by external environment. This necessitates careful align­ment of knowledge, skills and motivation level of employees on the one hand, and material, machines and finances on the other.

However, since business environment keeps on changing, planning should also provide for vary­ing mix of resources to meet a given situation.

Feature # 7. Planning Integrates Objectives with Action-Plans:

In the selection of objectives and the course of action to accomplish them, there may be difference of opinion among personnel immediately responsible for executing the proposed courses of action.

Thus, if the objective of an automobile company is to push sales, the sales manager may suggest production of ever new brands of cars to meet consumer preference; the production manager, fearing that shop- floor workers might not be able to handle high-tech equipment required to produce new models, may only advise adding some new features to the existing brands.

Effective planning should take into account conflicting views and, after weighing each alternative, carefully, arrive at a decision that satis­fies all and assures maximum return on investment to the organization.

Features of Planning – Focus on Objectives, Selective Process, Integrated Process, Directed towards Efficiency, Decision Making Process and a Few Others

The following are the important characteristics of planning:

1. Focus on objectives – A plan starts with the setting of objectives and then makes efforts to realise them by developing policies, procedures, strategies, etc.

2. It is an intellectual process – According to Koontz and O’Donnell, planning is an intellectual process involving mental exercise, foreseeing future developments, making forecasts and the determination of the best course of action.

3. Planning is a selective process – It involves the selection of the best one after making a careful analysis of various alternative courses of action. It is concerned with decision-making relating to (a) what is to be done, (b) how it is to be done, (c) when it is to be done, and (d) by whom it is to be done.

4. Planning is pervasive – Planning is a pervasive activity covering all the levels of enterprise. While top management is concerned with strategic planning, the middle management and the lower management are concerned with administrative planning and operational planning respectively.

5. Planning is an integrated process – Planning involves not only the determination of objectives but also the formulation of sound policies, programmes, procedures and strategies for the accomplishment of these objectives. It is the first of the managerial functions and facilitates other managerial functions like organising, staffing, directing and controlling.

6. Planning is directed towards efficiency – To increase the efficiency of the enterprise is the main purpose of planning. The guiding principles of a good plan is the maximum output and profit at the minimum cost. Terry has aptly stated that “planning is the foundation of the most successful action of an enterprise.”

7. Planning is flexible – The process of planning should be adaptable to the changes take place in the environment. Koontz and O’Donnell emphasise that “effective planning requires continual checking on events and forecasts and the redrawing of plans to maintain a course towards a designed goal.”

8. First function in the process of management – Planning is the beginning of the process of management. A manager must plan before he can possibly organise, staff, direct or control. Because planning sets all other functions into action, it can be seen as the most basic function of the management. Without planning, other functions become meaningless activity, producing nothing, but chaos.

9. It is a decision-making process – Decision-making is an integral part of planning. It is defined as the process of choosing among alternatives. Obviously, decision-making will occur at many points in the planning process. For example, in planning for their organisation, the managers first decide the goals to pursue. Such as without all components have to be produced internally or a portion of it has to be outsourced etc.

10. It is a continuous process – Planning is a continuous process. Koontz and O’Donnell rightly observe that like a navigator constantly checking where his ship is going in the vast ocean, a manager should constantly watch the progress of his plans. He must constantly monitor the conditions, both within and outside the organisation, to determine if changes are required in his plans.

Features of Planning 

Let us now discuss the features of planning as this will reveal what exactly a planning is:

1. Planning is Goal Oriented:

Planning is not an end in itself. But it is a means towards the accomplishment of goals and objectives of the organization. If planning does not contribute to accomplish the desired goals it has no meaning. Hence, planning must have positive path to achievement of goals. Once objectives are set, planning is emanated. Goals may be implicit or explicit, but well-defined goals are essential for efficient planning. This indicates that the planning is goal oriented.

2. Planning is a Primary Function:

A manager sets goals under planning and to attain the goals further activities such as organizing, staffing, directing and controlling are chalked out. It precedes all other functions as without planning nothing can be done. If done one has to face various problems, which are out of control.

3. Planning is All-Pervasive:

Planning is every manager’s duty irrespective of his or her level. Top level managers plan long term plans which extend for a period of 5 to 10 years and middle level managers prepared short term plans whose period may be 6 months to one year and the operation level managers prepares day-to- day or week long plans. So, the extent and nature of planning tend to decrease as we descend towards the lower levels of management.

4. Planning is an Intellectual or Rational Process:

Planning is a mental exercise involving imagination, foresight and sound judgement. It is not guesswork or wishful thinking. A manager has to use his intellectual capacity and the available situation into consideration and have sound thinking before making a decision and no guesswork is allowed as his action influence the future of the organization. Hence, planning is an intelligent brainwork.

5. Planning is a Continuous Process:

Planning is an on-going and dynamic exercise. It is because, the internal and external business environment are subjected to continuous change and to cope up with this change the manager has to go on changing his courses of action. Depending on the situations, old plans are to be revised and new one to be prepared. Hence, it is a continuous process.

6. Planning is Forward-Looking:

It is quite obvious that plans are done prepared with an eye on future. Planning involves anticipating the future course of events. Therefore, forecasting is the essence of planning, which involves assessing the uncertain future and making provisions for it. A plan is really a synthesis of various forecasts. No plan can be prepared without the knowledge of future events.

7. Planning Involves Choice:

Planning is essentially decision-making or choosing the optimal choice among alternative courses of action listed. If this is not the situation and if manager has only one-way of doing something. Planning problem arises when there are number of alternatives are available to select the most favourable one.

8. Planning is an Integrated Process:

Planning does not just happen, it has to be initiated. Planning is a structured process and different plans constitute a hierarchy. Different plans are interdependent and interrelated. Every lower level plan serves as a means towards the end of higher plans, which is termed as ‘end- means chain’. Planning is a time-bound concept and every plan has a defined time horizon.

9. Planning is Directed towards Efficiency:

Aim of any manager is to attain organizational goals effectively and efficiently. Otherwise the plans prepared by him has no relevancy. Hence, the plans must be efficient and they must help the management to attain the predetermined goals economically, effectively and efficiently.

Features of Planning – 10 Features: Primacy of Planning, Rational Approach, Open System Approach, Decision Making, Mental Exercise and a Few Others

Feature # 1. Primacy of Planning:

Planning precedes all other managerial functions. Since managerial operations in organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling are designed to support the accomplishment of organizational objectives, planning logically precedes the execution of all other managerial functions. Although all the functions intermesh in practice as a system of action, planning is unique in that it establishes the objectives necessary for all group efforts. All other functions are performed to achieve the objectives set by the planning process.

Feature # 2. Rational Approach:

Planning is a rational approach for defining where one stands at present, where one wants to go in future, and how to reach there. The concept of rationality in planning involves the choice of appropriate means to fill the gap between present status (current performance) and future status (desired performance). The present and future status is usually expressed in terms of objectives and actions to be taken to achieve these objectives.

Feature # 3. Open System Approach:

Planning adopts an open system approach. This approach of planning indicates that the future course of action is influenced by the environment in which an organization operates. Therefore, while adopting open system approach in planning, managers have to take into account various features of environment.

Feature # 4. Focus on Objectives:

Planning puts focus on objectives. This is done in two forms. First, planning specifies the objectives which are to be achieved within a specified period. Second, planning also specifies how these objectives may be achieved.

Feature # 5. Decision Making:

Planning is basically a decision-making activity. Decision making involves choosing the most appropriate alternative out of the several alternatives available. Thus, planning involves choosing the most appropriate action out of several available actions.

Feature # 6. Forward Looking:

Planning is primarily concerned with looking into future. It requires forecasting of future behaviour of environment. Thus, the success of plan implementation depends greatly on the accurate forecasting of future environment.

Feature # 7. Pervasiveness:

Planning is pervasive and extends throughout the organization. Thus, every manager at any level of management performs planning function. This is why an organization has plans at different levels: overall organizational plan, divisional plan, departmental plan, and sectional plan which constitute hierarchy of plans. Hierarchy of plans implies that plan at a lower level depends to a great extent on plan of its immediate higher level plan.

Feature # 8. Continuous Process:

Planning is a continuous process. Thus, even if a plan is decided to be executed over a period of time, the planning process does not come to an end. This is so because for executing the plan, several types of planning activities are required. Further, since a plan is executed in a dynamic business environment, any change in it requires adjustments in the plan through planning process.

Feature # 9. Flexibility:

Planning has flexibility as this process works in a dynamic business environment. The flexibility feature of planning assumes that actual results may not match expected results if environmental conditions change during plan execution period. To ensure this match, there is need for realigning the plan with changed environment.

Feature # 10. Mental Exercise:

Planning is a thinking process rather than doing process. Planning works in environment which is abstract and not physical. Interpreting an abstract element requires considerable thinking. This is why those managers tend to succeed in planning who have conceptual skills (analytical thinking, vision, foresight, etc.)

Features of Planning

The features of planning are enumerated as follows:

(a) Planning is Goal-Oriented/Provides Direction:

Organisations are set up with a general purpose in view. Specific goals are set out in the plans along with the activities to be undertaken to achieve the goals. Thus, planning is purposeful. Planning has no meaning unless it contributes to the achievement of predetermined organisational goals.

(b) Primacy of Planning:

It lays down the base for other functions of management. All other managerial functions are performed within the framework of plans drawn. Thus, planning proceeds other functions. This is also referred to as the primacy of planning.

(c) Planning is Pervasive:

It is needed in all types of organisations, whether big or small, profit or non-profit, social, political or religious. It is required at all levels of management as well as in all departments of the organisation. It is neither an exclusive function of top management nor of any particular department. But the scope of planning differs at different levels and among different departments.

For example, the top management undertakes planning for the organisation as a whole. Middle management does the departmental planning. Lower level management does day to day operational planning.

(d) Planning is a Continuous Process:

Plans are prepared for a specific period of time, may be for a month, a quarter or a year. At the end of that period, there is a need for a new plan to be drawn on the basis of new requirements and future conditions. Hence, planning is a never ending activity. It is a continuous process. Continuity of planning is related with planning cycle. It means that a plan is framed, it is implemented and is followed by another plan and so on.

(e) Planning is Futuristic:

It essentially involves looking ahead and preparing for the future. The purpose of planning is to meet future events effectively to the best advantage of an organisation. It implies peeping into the future, analysing it and predicting it. Planning is, therefore, regarded as a forward looking function based on forecasting.

Through forecasting future events, conditions are anticipated and plans are drawn accordingly. Thus, for example, sales forecasting is the basis on which a business firm prepares its annual plan for production and sales.

(f) Planning involves Choice/Decision-Making:

Planning essentially involves choice from among various alternatives and activities. If there is one possible goal or only one possible course of action, there is no need for planning because there is no choice. The need for planning arises only when alternatives are available. In actual practice, planning presupposes the existence of alternatives. Planning thus, involves thorough examination and evaluation for each alternative and choosing the most appropriate one.

(g) Planning is a Mental Exercise:

Planning requires application of the mind involving foresight, intelligent imagination and sound judgement. It is basically an intellectual activity of thinking rather than doing because planning determines the action to be taken. However, thinking for planning requires logical and systematic thinking rather than guessing or wishful thinking.