An analysis of the above definitions reveals the following Nature and Characteristics of Planning:
Nature and Characteristics of Planning
1. Primary Function
2. Pervasiveness of Planning
3. Focus on Objectives
4. Future Oriented
5. Selective Process
6. Intellectual Process
7. Continuous Process
8. Increases Efficiency
(1) Primary Function
Planning is the primary function of management. It precedes all other management functions. Without setting the goals to be achieved and line of action to be followed there is no meaning of organizing, leading or controlling the activities of an organization.
In fact, all other functions of management largely depend upon planning. It sets all other functions into action. Hence, it is the basic function of management.
(2) Pervasiveness of Planning
Planning is a pervasive activity. Managers at all levels of organization perform the planning function. However, the nature and scope of planning may differ at various levels of management Top management looks after strategic planning.
The middle and lower management are concerned with administrative planning and operational planning respectively.
(3) Focus on Objectives
A plan must focus on accomplishing certain objectives/goals. It identifies the actions that would lead to the desired objectives quickly and economically.
Planning cannot be imagined without objectives.
(4) Future Oriented
Planning is always future oriented because it is done for the future. It decides in the present what is to be done in future.
It is based on forecasting and a plan is a synthesis of forecasts. Thus, planning is based on farsightedness, which is forward looking in nature
(5) Selective Process
In order to achieve a set of objectives, there are a number of alternatives, which are available to an organization. He planning is essentially a process of choosing among alternatives. It is concerned with decision-making relating to
- what is to be done,
- how it is to be done,
- when it is to be done, and
- by whom it is to be done.
(6) Intellectual Process
Planning is a intellectual process, which involves creative. thinking and. imagination. Managers have to consider various courses of action, go in details the pros and cons of every courses of action and then finally decide which course of action may suit them best.
It is not mere guesswork but involves rational thinking. It requires mental ability to think before acting.
(7) Continuous Process
Planning is a continuous and never ending process of a manager in an organization. The manager plans on the basis of some assumption, which may not come true in the future.
Therefore, he has to go on modifying, revising and adjusting plans in the light of changing environment. A manager cannot plan once for all.
(8) Increases Efficiency
Planning aims to increase the efficiency of the organization at all levels. The guiding principle of a good plan is the maximum output and profit at the minimum cost.
Planning helps in utilization of resources and reducing wastage. In planning, the manager evaluates the alternatives on the basis of efficiency.
Hence, the concept of efficiency is implicit in planning.