Assessment activity 1
In your own words, describe the purpose of the operational plan and its relationship to the strategic plan. The purpose of the operational plan is to focus on shorter term objectives usually within 1 up to 3 years. For plans of 2 to 3 years, a more detailed breakdown of shorter timeframes should be included within the body of the document. An operational plan provides detailed information on planning, resource, implementation and funding for projects normally developed from the strategic plan. An operational plan should contain indicators to measure progress and performance.
When written an operational plan will be defined by the following questions
– Where are we now?
– Where do we want to be?
– How do we get there?
– How do we measure our performance?
Operational plans also comprise responsibility, allocation and contingency for variation. Contingency planning is the development of alternative plans to be placed in effect if certain unexpected events occur. There are four main advantages to contingency planning: 1) it helps the organisation get into a better position to cope with unexpected developments; 2) indecision, uncertainty, and delays are reduced when something unusual happens; 3) the organisations responses are likely to be better thought out and more rational; and 4) managers are forced to think in terms of possible outcomes, rather than just the most likely outcome.
Operational plans are normally derived from strategic plans; a strategic plan provides formal long term direction for an organisation’s mission, objectives and strategies. These plans define
What do we do?
Who do we do it for?
How do we get there? / How do we succeed?
Assessment activity 2
Consultation can be undertaken both formally and informally.
Outline some of the tools that can be used for formal consultation and discuss there various merits. Formal tools for consultation include:
Information sessions provide an instant feedback loop; these information sessions could be called planning sessions or development meetings and provide information to the recipient in several forms ensure all learning mechanisms are catered for. Information sessions also ensure that stakeholders feel involved in decision making processes adding value to the process. This can also be beneficial as it does not provide time for negative thinkers to formulate argument.
Invitations for submissions from stakeholders
When asking for submissions for stakeholders you are providing a tool for continued commitment and keeping the channel for communications open. Stakeholders will need to provide continued input into the process to ensure holistic development of the plan is achieved. Stakeholder consultation is about initiating and sustaining constructive relationships over time.1 Meetings, workshops, focus groups, one on one interview
Meetings workshops and “one to one” consultation tools aid in providing appropriate and agenda orientated discussion and provide input to existing or identified issues, potential solutions and aid in refining the information provided. These meetings and interviews can be minuted and presented back to the groups as an accurate account and a form of continual improvement ensuring that the items raised are being addressed and not being revisited unnecessarily. A focus group involves inviting a group of participants to share their thoughts, feelings and attitudes. This can be a useful tool for gaining “buy in”2 to the planning process. This information can then be fed back to the process.
By measuring feedback and reporting appropriately it will be possible to capture and report opinion on ideas presented and formulate into input to the planning process.
Communication mechanisms such as email, intranet, newsletters and memos surveys These tools are a good way of providing information quickly over large groups in a uniform way. Although hard to measure result, by capturing groups that may otherwise not provide input to the process it is bringing transparency and opportunity to build a robust planning process.
Assessment activity 3
In your own words, explain why key performance indicators (KPIs) are an important part of the operational planning process. KPIs can be broken down by acronym; by focusing on the importance of each component of a Key Performance Indicator it will become apparent of the role the KPI plays in the operational plan.
Key when it is of fundamental importance in gaining competitive advantage and is a make or break component in the success or failure of the plan. An example only by measuring the shelf space gained by a drinks manufacturer they can measure the growth achieved this can be measured on a short term basis indicating success or failure over the plan period. Another example for a gaol, it may be to reduce the amount of lockdowns or assaults over the plan periods this can then provide information in relation to the implementation of absence policies for staff and intervention programs for inmates to achieve predetermined benchmarks.
Relating to Performance when it can be clearly measured, quantified and easily influenced by the organisation or governing body.
Indicator if it provides leading information on future performance. It is impossible to establish a KPI without a clear understanding of what is possible – so it must be possible to set upper and lower limits of the KPI in reference to the market and how the competition is performing (or in the absence of competition, a comparable measurement from a number of similar organisations). Some industries do not have immediately recognisable measures but by study of the environment it is possible to be able identify key areas to be measured and provide input into future development and growth (KPI).
Measuring key areas of the operational plan ensure that continual improvement and best practice are maintained and that the plan is achieving expected outcomes.
Assessment activity 4
Explain the role of an impact assessment in contingency planning and outline the steps within it.
Also known as an impact and risk analysis an impact assessment is the developmental tool to assist in defining the structure and content of the contingency plan. By performing an impact assessment it aids in providing accurate diagnosis relating to the definition of risk as outlined by the operation plan, what may occur.
The impact of the risk on the operational plan and its projected outcomes, what is the rating of the risk, how will it manifest itself and how damaging will it be to the plan if it eventuates. Coupled with a series of alternatives, recognitions and formulated responses to the risks the information is fed back into the process and forms the contingency plan.
This information can be collated in the form of a matrix; the information can then be measured for weight, possibility of outcome, severity of impact and presented with formulated recommendations for risk minimisation or alternatives. IMPACT MATRIX
Summary of impact
Short description of impact
Include stakeholder groups and/or role (if required)
Category identifies the type of impact
People (is there a direct impact on people)
Structure & roles (is there an impact on how things are)
Culture (is there an overall impact on people/groups as a whole) Process (will there be a change to processes)
Skills (will skills need to be developed)
Technology (will there be system/technology changes)
Level of impact
High: Large impact and/or large amount of change
Medium: Moderate number impact and/or moderate amount of change Low: No or low impact and/or small amount of change
Include any stakeholder resistance issues that may impact awareness, acceptance and /or adoption of the change. Risk of inaction
Risk of not implementing some form of change management initiative.
change actions formulated and used based on all the information for each impact:
Level of Impact (H/M/L)
Risks and issues
Assessment activity 5
Proposals for resource requirements may outline alternatives to the project under consideration. Why?
Outlining alternatives to the project being proposed for consideration can assist in providing justification for presenting the chosen proposal as the desired action to be taken. When providing a list of alternatives, areas such as costing, resource availability, risk, legal implication and obligations and time constraint should be examined. This will bolster the selected proposal and provide transparency to the selection process demonstrating that all options have been taken into consideration and tested for appropriateness.
Assessment activity 6
Explain what the acronym SMART stands for, and why it is so important for objectives and targets to be designed with this in mind.
SMART is a results driven acronym designed to provide focus to the task and the objective required as a result.
S.Should be specific, clear to anyone that has basic knowledge of the project.
M.Must be measurable, know that that objective is obtainable and how far away completion is. Be aware of when the task has been completed.
A.Agreed upon. Agreement must be reached with all stakeholders about what the objectives should be. The objective should also be achievable.
RThe objective should be realistic and relevant and within the abilities of the organisation skills base.
TTime based. Is there enough time to compete the task? Are the timeframes realistic i.e. not too long as to effect performance, timelines and completion?
An objective that follows SMART is more likely to succeed because it is clear (specific) so you know exactly what needs to be achieved. You can tell when it has been achieved (measurable) because you have a way to measure completion. A SMART objective is likely to happen because it is an event that is achievable. Before setting a SMART objective relevant factors such as resources and time must be taken into account to ensure that it is realistic. Finally the timeline element provides a deadline which helps people focus on the tasks required to achieve the objective. The timeline element stops people postponing task completion and effecting performance.
Assessment activity 7
In your own words, outline some of the key stages in the recruitment process and briefly explain what should be achieved at each step.
It is vital that the planning and preparation stage of the recruitment process is done effectively for the appointment of a new member of staff to be successful. Human Resources (HR) or a management panel / interview panel will need to think about what their current or future needs are and the best way to meet them. If the vacancy is a new role HR or the appropriately delegated persons will need to think about the job purpose, responsibilities and experience that they are looking for culminating onto the development of a statement of duties (SOD). If the role is replacing an existing one they will need to consider if any changes need to be made to ensure that the job is fully effective and review all policy documentation appropriately to reflect the identified needs.
Candidates first become aware of a vacancy via advertising or by use of a facilitating recruitment agency. A recruitment advertisement must be written in a clear and concise way so as potential applicants are encouraged to find out more about the organisation and advertised position. Where and when you advertise must be taken into consideration as poorly timed or focusing on the wrong target group with inappropriate media selection will provide poor results in response and will not capture the target market.
When planning to recruit it is important to establish a realistic timeframe for each stage prior to beginning the process of recruitment. Having tight deadlines and only leaving a small amount of time for short listing and collation of data can be counterproductive. Careful thought about the whole recruitment process in order to get the best possible outcome is critical. Identification of the method of short listing, scoring and the convening of a selection panel are also important considerations to take into account in the planning stage of recruitment.
A professional recruitment process is crucial, for the validity of the recruitment decision and for the image of the organisation. All applicants should feel that they have been treated fairly throughout the process and be left with the impression that the organisation is a fair, coconscious and ethical employer – somewhere where it would be good to work and develop a career.
Following the interview the panel should make a decision based on all the evidence available as it is applied evenly throughout the recruitment and selection process with reference to the required job description.
Assessment activity 8
Outline some of the advantages of using a purchase order.
Some advantages of a business purchasing utilising a purchase order management system include; the purchaser having a defined traceable record of transaction that states all relevant information to the sale including things such as purchase and delivery dates, cost of purchase, terms and conditions of payments, authorising persons and collation of information between purchase order and invoice / statement to ensure correct payments without ambiguity of details. Purchase order copies can be used to ensure suppliers dispatch the items that you have ordered upon receipt of goods.
A good purchase order management system should have a back order system in place. This enables the purchaser to track and follow up items that have not been received at time of purchase but may be arriving later due to an inability to supply. Used In a larger organisation a purchase order can also provide information for accountancy such as distribution of cost centres and allocation to job numbers for future invoicing.
Assessment activity 9
Describe a mechanism for ensuring that operational activities are proceeding according to plan. The balanced score card is a measurement framework which integrates multiple perspectives. The balanced scorecard integrates four sets of measurements, complementing traditional financial measures with those driving future performance. An organisation using this framework is encouraged to develop measures (metrics) that facilitate collection and analysis of information from the following perspectives: The Financial Perspective covers the financial objectives of an organisation and allows managers to track financial success.
The Customer Perspective covers the customer objectives such as customer satisfaction, market share goals as well as product and service attributes. The Internal Process Perspective covers internal operational goals and outlines the key processes necessary to deliver the customer objectives. The Learning and Growth Perspective covers the intangible drivers of future success such as human resource, organisational capital and information capturing including skills, training, organisational culture, leadership, systems and databases
Implementation of a balanced scorecard presents an opportunity for an organisation to look at its existing programs, services, and processes. Are the right services being provided to the Customers? (Are we doing the right things?) Are the processes implemented now the most efficient and cost effective.
Performance measurements provide a mechanism for the organisation to manage its financial and non-financial performance. Accountability is increased and enhanced, ensuring that projects support the organisational strategy, and that better services and greater satisfaction are provided to the Customer. Performance that is measured and reported will improve. (Are we doing things right?).
Specific metrics are developed which can then be analysed to provide answers to these questions. Once appropriate metrics have been identified, data collection and tracking processes are put in place, the organisation can begin to adjust its practices and evaluate its performance over time. A continuous feedback loop is formed, in which the organisation can use measurement information to re-align initiatives as required.
Scorecards are effective in aligning an organisation’s business areas and activities with its overall strategy, identifying critical financial and non-financial measures, identifying cause-and effect relationships among measures that may aid in problem diagnosis and encourage accountability across the organisation. When it was first introduced the Balanced Scorecard was presented in a four-box model. The danger with the initial four-box model was that companies can easily create a number of objectives and measures for each perspective without ever linking them. Many organisations produced management dashboards to provide a more comprehensive at a glance view of key performance indicators in these four perspectives.
A Strategy Map places the four perspectives in relation to each other to show that the objectives support each other. Strategy maps outline what an organisation wants to accomplish (financial and customer objectives) and how it plans to accomplish it (internal process and learning and growth objectives). This cause-and-effect logic is one of the most important elements of best-practice Balanced Scorecards. It allows companies to create a truly integrated set of strategic objectives on a single page.
Assessment activity 10
Name three types of financial report that can be used to track progress and monitor performance. Three types of financial Reports that can be used to measure progress and performance are the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement. The balance sheet details a company’s current financial position based on assets, liabilities, and equity. The balance sheet helps answer questions about a company’s liquidity, solvency, and relative position to that of industry competitors. The income statement details a company’s profitability. Net income is found in the income statement and it is determined as revenues less all costs. The income statement sheds light on the company’s ability to spend money (expenses) in order to generate revenues. The cash flow statement details a company’s operating, investing, and financing activities. Because earnings can be manipulated by clever accountants and management, cash flows more accurately reflect the financial performance of a company.
Assessment activity 11
What is a gap analysis?
Definition: [Gap analysis is a] technique for determining the steps to be taken in moving from a current state to a desired future state. It begins with (1) listing of characteristic factors (such as attributes, competencies, performance levels) of the present situation (“what is”), (2) cross-lists factors required to achieve the future objectives (“what should be”), and then (3) highlights the ‘gaps’ that exist and need to be ‘filled.’
Also called need-gap analysis, needs analysis, and needs assessment.3
A gap analysis is the method of improving a company or organisations performance by analysing the reasons for the gap between current results and long-term objectives. Gap analysis begins by asking yourself two basic questions: Where are you now? Where do you want to be? In answering these questions, you need to be as detailed as possible so it will be easier to come up with realistic plans of action. Study your current situation and determine how you are presently performing. A gap analysis conducted on it own will be fruitless unless coupled without proactive solutions incorporated to meet the needs identified in the analysis to ensure effective outcomes and desired results are achieved.
Assessment activity 12
Describe the different types of mentoring.
This form of mentoring option enables employees to enter into an informal style of mentor/protégé relationship. An informal mentoring partnership has less structure than a formal mentoring process and can occur at any time in a person’s career. The relationship can be initiated by the mentor or protégé. Some examples that informal mentoring relationship can be initiated are: A senior level employee that identifies either promise or potential issues in a younger employee‘s path can take them under his or her wing and providing them with advice and guidance to assist them with their current job or career goals; An employee seeking out a senior level employee they admire and together they work to develop a relationship; or A supervisor or a senior level employee recommends a specific employee to the protégé to receive mentoring.
Formal mentoring has a structure. It involves an agreement to mentor and be mentored, a clear framework for mentoring and perhaps a program of support. In a formal mentoring relationship, there is discussion of expectations, goals and the process to be used. The frequency and duration of contact is agreed and ground-rules are established. Individuals may establish their own mentoring arrangements or participate in a mentoring program.
This form of mentoring is when two people undertake a mentoring partnership and take turns in mentoring each other as peers. Each one facilitates the mentoring process by asking questions, listening and reflecting. As in most types of mentoring, there is a place for offering another perspective, expressing an opinion or providing information. However, the decision-making responsibility always remains with the person who will implement and experience the consequences of their own actions. Because the partners recognise each other as peers, it can be easier to offer and receive input as information rather than advice
One mentor can be teamed with several mentees who meet at the same time. As the mentor poses questions, listens and reflects he or she engages all members of the group into the conversation. Each person has their own experience and insight to share and can draw their own learning from the discussion. This can be invaluable to the other attendees as it can provide perspectives that may not be normally considered in a smaller mentoring scenario.
Assessment activity 13
Discuss the role of performance monitoring in negotiating variations to operational plans.
Effective performance monitoring enables continual risk management in the operational plan process. 360 degree monitoring of the plan and the identification of areas that require adjustment or reassessment can ensure that goals are achieved and KPI’s are met. This will ensure that risk levels can be reduced to minimal impact and contingencies can be implemented if required. With early identification, issues can be resolved by negotiating with authorised persons or groups to enable variation strategies to be approved and implemented.
Assessment activity 14
Outline some of the things that organisational policies on documenting performance should cover.
When dealing with documenting performance the organisational policies should have the policy structure in an easily accessible format for example the organisations intranet. These policies should cover;
relevant legislation or business guidelines covering expected performance and behaviours within the workplace, relevant performance management guide lines,
processes for discipline
grievance and appeal structures and guides,
storage and access of employee files,
audit and assessment guidelines for
Work health and safety
Compliance to operating models and routines
Achievement of output budgets
A – Z of relevant forms