Planning – strengths, weaknesses

Planning is an integral part of our everyday lives. Our day will start with an intended plan of action. Our aims and objectives of the day will be mapped out in our minds ready to be put into action. The thought processes that we have will determine whether our aims and objectives are realistic and likely to be met. Organisational planning could be seen as very much the same process. The organisation must set aims and objectives and decide the best way in putting them into action. The process the organisation goes through will determine whether they can meet the requirements of the clientele.

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In order to set realistic goals the organisation must first gather information regarding their service. In order to do this the organisation could undertake a S. W. O. T. analysis. This analysis involves identifying the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats facing the organisation. Strengths: Looking inside the organisation. What strengths does it have in relation to its strategy, structure, people, leadership, processes, products, systems, values and culture? Weaknesses: What weaknesses does the organisation have in relation to the above factors?

Opportunities: After scanning the external environment what opportunities can the organisation identify? Threats: Looking externally what challenges does the organisation face? Who or what could cause potential problems? The answers could be written on a grid so as to simplify the process and make all issues easily identifiable e. g. The benefits of planning are obvious. An organisation simply cannot know what it is doing and what it intends to do unless it regularly creates and monitors its goals. Strategic planning enables people to influence the future.

“It is the continuous process of making present entrepreneurial (risk taking) decisions systematically and with the greatest knowledge of their futurity; organising systematically the efforts needed to carry out these decisions; and measuring the results of these decisions against the expectations through organisational systematic feedback” (Drucker, 1982) Peter Drucker (1982, p. 121-129) states that management has no choice but to anticipate the future, to attempt to mould it, and to balance short-range and long-range goals.

He would go on to argue that the systematic organisation of the planning job and the supply of knowledge to it strengthen the manager’s judgement, leadership and vision. Drucker, in 1954, developed the idea that we can manage by objectives by looking at the needs analysis of an organisation. “The non-profit organisation therefore needs to set specific goal in terms of its service to people. And it needs constantly to raise these goals-or its performance will go down. ” (Drucker, 1990) Bradford Youth Service, of which I am an employee, enforces the use of two distinctive planning tools.

It has written a strategic plan that encompasses the whole service. It creates a guideline and gives a clear understanding for all workers in what they should be aiming to achieve within their specific units. The strategic plan is written and agreed by the Senior Management Team. They develop long-range goals, standards and ratios, objectives and major polices and the provision of budgets. They meet on a weekly basis and oversee the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the plan. Each unit is then required to submit a unit plan annually.

This is specific to each unit as it identifies what work will take place, who the target group is, who will deliver it, what resources will be needed, how the aims and objectives will be met and indicate a period of time. All entries to the plan must be S. M. A. R. T. The work that is identified in the unit plan is evaluated quarterly and amended as required. Some managers encourage all workers to contribute towards the content of the unit plans. I feel that this is very important as part-time members of staff deliver the majority of youth work in Bradford.

Their ‘on the ground’ experiences play an integral part in the decisions of which issues and areas for development should be prioritised. They are in full contact with the clientele and are the most likely to have a greater understanding for the young peoples immediate needs. Also, by including part-time workers in the planning process it will create a sense of ownership and should therefore aid in the commitment of all staff ensuring that the plans are delivered with maximum effect.

At the end of each quarter each unit must submit a progress report so as to evaluate the work carried out so far, identify areas for development, and implement a new plan for the next quarter. I would categorise this process as short-term planning. As mentioned previously I find this very useful as it gives me a guide in the work I should be delivering. Some part-time members of staff find the process a hindrance as they may only be employed for a few hours on a sessional contract.

They don’t feel it is their job to make decisions but to just deliver the work. I disagree with this attitude. As practitioners, regardless of employment status, we have a responsibility in ensuring good practice and development for young people. In order to understand how and why we will implement this being involved in the planning stages gives the opportunity in addressing any concerns and dealing with issues well before they may threaten the continuity of the work.

“It has been stated that one of the primary purposes of the business planning approach is to establish more commitment amongst operational staff to the achievement of the targets specified in the plan. Hence it is essential that those involved in the production have some significant input into the construction of the plan” (Dawson, 1998) In my present employment I am responsible for delivering a Life skills programme to young people who are getting ready for employment or further training.

My work has to be planned and allocated into time slots or I would not be able to achieve all of the required tasks needed to fulfil my position. As part of the programme I have to identify the importance of planning with young people and use a Gantt chart to show how to effectively manage their time. Henry L. Gantt developed the Gantt chart in the early twentieth century. It can show planned and actual progress for a number of tasks displayed against a horizontal timescale. I use the Gantt chart with young people, as it is easily understood and easy to construct. e. g.