Developing Effective Operational Plans: Key Components and Strategies

The initial task involves evaluation.

The operational plan serves the purpose of outlining shorter term objectives, typically lasting 1 to 3 years. For longer plans, it is crucial to incorporate a detailed breakdown of shorter timeframes within the document. This plan offers specific information regarding planning, resource allocation, implementation, and funding for projects that are derived from the strategic plan. It should also encompass indicators for measuring progress and performance. To develop an operational plan, one must address the following questions.

- Where are we currently located?

- What is our desired destination? How can we reach it? How do we evaluate our progress?

The text discusses the components of responsibility, allocation, and contingency for variation in operational plans.

Contingency planning involves creating alternative plans for unexpected events. The benefits of contingency planning include enhancing the organization's ability to handle unforeseen developments efficiently, reducing indecision, uncertainty, and delays during unusual situations, encouraging careful and rational decision-making in the organization's responses, and requiring managers to consider multiple outcomes rather than solely focusing on the most likely one.

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Operational plans are typically derived from strategic plans that offer formal long-term guidance for an organization's mission, objectives, and strategies.

What is our role?

Who is our target audience? What is our strategy for achieving success?

Assessment activity 2 Formal and informal consultation can both be conducted. Below are some formal tools for consultation and their respective merits:

Information sessions

Information sessions, also known as planning sessions or development meetings, provide instant feedback loop and deliver information to recipients in various formats to cater for different learning mechanisms.

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These sessions also involve stakeholders in decision making processes, adding value to the overall process. Additionally, by eliminating the time for negative thinkers to prepare arguments, information sessions can be beneficial in maintaining a positive atmosphere.

Invitations for submissions from stakeholders

When requesting submissions from stakeholders, you are offering a means of ongoing dedication and maintaining an open line of communication. It is essential for stakeholders to continuously contribute to the process in order to attain comprehensive development of the plan. Stakeholder consultation involves initiating and maintaining positive relationships over time.1 This can be achieved through meetings, workshops, focus groups, and individual interviews.

The use of meetings, workshops, and one-to-one consultations helps facilitate focused discussions and gather input on existing or identified issues, as well as potential solutions. These interactions also aid in refining the provided information. Meeting minutes and presentations ensure that accurate records are kept, allowing for ongoing improvement and preventing unnecessary revisiting of topics. In addition, focus groups provide an opportunity for participants to express their thoughts, feelings, and attitudes, which can be valuable for generating support for the planning process. The feedback from these sessions is then integrated back into the overall process.

By gathering and analyzing feedback, it will be possible to capture and report opinions on presented ideas, which can then be used as input for the planning process.

Various communication mechanisms, including email, intranet, newsletters, and memos surveys, serve as effective ways to distribute information rapidly and uniformly to large groups. These tools not only facilitate quick dissemination of information but also enable capturing inputs from groups that may otherwise not participate in the process. This enhanced transparency brings about an opportunity to strengthen the planning process.

Assessment activity 3

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are crucial in the operational planning process because they are an integral part of it. By analyzing KPIs and emphasizing the significance of each element, we can gain a thorough understanding of their role within the operational plan.

Key is crucial for gaining a competitive advantage and determines the success or failure of a plan. For instance, by measuring the amount of shelf space obtained by a drinks manufacturer, they can assess their growth in the short term and determine if the plan is successful. Another example involves reducing lockdowns or assaults in a correctional facility over a specific period, providing information on the effectiveness of absence policies for staff and intervention programs for inmates in meeting predetermined goals.

Regarding Performance, it is specifically referring to instances where it can be easily measured, quantified, and influenced by the organization or governing body.

Indicator if it provides leading information on future performance. It must be possible to establish a KPI with a clear understanding of what is possible – so upper and lower limits of the KPI in reference to the market and competition must be set (or in the absence of competition, a comparable measurement from similar organisations). Some industries lack immediately recognisable measures, but by studying the environment, it is possible to identify key areas to measure and provide input into future development and growth (KPI).

By measuring key areas of the operational plan, both continual improvement and best practice can be maintained, ensuring that the plan achieves expected outcomes.

Assessment activity 4

Contingency planning involves an impact assessment, in which the role is to explain and outline the steps within it.

An impact assessment, also referred to as an impact and risk analysis, serves as a developmental tool to define the structure and content of the contingency plan. It plays a crucial role in accurately diagnosing risks according to the operation plan, thereby aiding in understanding what potential events may occur.

The risk's impact on the operational plan and its projected outcomes, the risk rating, manifestation, and potential damage to the plan if it occurs, along with alternative options, recognition, and formulated responses to the risks, are all considered in developing the contingency plan.

The information can be organized into a matrix for measurement of weight, possibility of outcome, and severity of impact. The matrix can then be used to present recommendations for risk minimization or alternatives. The impact matrix is utilized for this purpose.


Description Change Impact Summary of impact Description Short description of impact Stakeholder Include stakeholder groups and/or role (if required) Category 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

Challenges with resistance

Include any resistance issues from stakeholders that could affect the awareness, acceptance, and/or adoption of the change. It is also important to consider the risk associated with not implementing any type of change management initiative.

Modify Procedures

Modify actions are generated and utilized according to all the data for each effect:

Ref No. Change Impact




Level of Impact (High/Medium/Low)

Resistance problems

Modify Actions

Risks and issues that need to be addressed with mitigation measures due to their severity.

Here are some recommendations:

Assessment activity 5

Proposals for resource requirements may present alternatives to the current project because...

Presenting alternatives to the proposed project can help justify why the chosen proposal is the preferred course of action. Important aspects to consider when listing alternatives include the cost, availability of resources, potential risks, legal implications and obligations, and time constraints. This approach will strengthen the selected proposal and show that all options have been thoroughly evaluated and deemed appropriate.

Assessment activity 6

It is important to design objectives and targets using the SMART acronym. The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

The Smart acronym is created to give focus and clarity to the desired outcome and task.

S. The requirement should be precise and understandable by anyone with fundamental knowledge of the project.

M. Must have a measurable objective, be aware of its attainability and the distance to completion, as well as know about the task's completion.

It is crucial to reach consensus with all stakeholders in order to establish the agreed-upon objectives, making sure that they are both possible and achievable.

It is important that the goal is both achievable and significant, and also matches the organization's abilities.

When evaluating time, it is essential to consider both the available time for a task and the feasibility of assigned timeframes. It is vital to ensure that the given time is not excessively extended as this can have detrimental effects on performance, adherence to schedules, and successful completion.

The use of a SMART objective enhances the likelihood of success as it provides clear and specific guidance on what needs to be achieved. It also enables easy measurement of progress, simplifying the determination of when the objective has been fully accomplished. By being attainable, a SMART objective is more likely to be achieved. Prior to setting such an objective, it is crucial to consider factors like available resources and time constraints in order to ensure its feasibility. Additionally, including a timeline component in a SMART objective establishes a deadline that helps individuals stay focused on the necessary tasks for achieving the objective. This prevents procrastination and maintains overall performance.

Section 2

Assessment activity 7

In your own words, describe some of the main steps in the recruitment process and briefly clarify the goals that should be accomplished at each stage.


Effective planning and preparation are crucial when recruiting a new staff member. Whether it is the Human Resources (HR) department or a management/interview panel, they must assess their current and future needs and decide on the most appropriate approach to fulfill them. If the vacancy is for a new position, HR or authorized individuals need to consider the purpose, responsibilities, and desired experience of the job. This will lead to the creation of a statement of duties (SOD). When replacing an existing role, they should evaluate if any adjustments are needed for optimal job performance and review policy documentation to ensure alignment with the identified requirements.


Candidates typically discover job openings through ads or recruitment agencies. To attract potential applicants, a recruitment ad should be clear and concise, urging them to explore more about the organization and the advertised position. It is also crucial to carefully consider when and who the ad will target. Choosing an improper media platform or timing may lead to low response rates and fail to engage the desired market.


Before starting the recruitment process, it is important to create a realistic schedule for each phase. Setting unreasonable time limits that don't allow enough time for shortlisting and organizing data can impede productivity. It is necessary to carefully consider the entire recruitment process in order to achieve the best possible outcomes. Furthermore, during the planning stage of recruitment, it is vital to decide on the method for shortlisting candidates, establish a scoring system, and determine who will be part of the selection panel.

Selection process

Ensuring a professional recruitment process is vital for the credibility of the hiring decision and the reputation of the organization. It is imperative that all candidates perceive fair treatment throughout this process, thereby reflecting the organization's commitment to equity, conscientiousness, and ethics while offering avenues for career growth.


Following the interview, the panel needs to assess all evidence and consistently apply it for decision-making. This evidence should be considered throughout the recruitment and selection process, particularly with regard to the job description of the desired position.

Assessment activity 8

There are several benefits to utilizing a purchase order:

A purchase order management system offers several benefits for businesses. It provides a clear and traceable record of transactions, including important details such as purchase and delivery dates, purchase cost, payment terms and conditions, authorized personnel, and matching information between the purchase order and invoice/statement to ensure accurate payments without any confusion. Purchase order copies can also be used to verify that suppliers have delivered the items as ordered.

A back order system is an essential component of a reliable purchase order management system. It allows purchasers to keep track and follow up on items that were not received at the time of purchase but are expected to arrive later due to supply constraints. In a larger organization, purchase orders can also provide valuable information for accounting purposes, including cost center distribution and allocation to job numbers for future invoicing.

Assessment activity 9

One way to ensure that operational activities are on track is by using the balanced score card, a measurement framework that incorporates various perspectives. The balanced scorecard encompasses four sets of measurements, blending conventional financial metrics with those that drive future performance. To implement this framework, an organization should establish metrics that aid in gathering and analyzing information from different viewpoints. The Financial Perspective focuses on an organization's financial objectives and enables managers to monitor their financial achievements.

The Customer Perspective includes customer satisfaction, market share goals, and product and service attributes. The Internal Process Perspective focuses on internal operational goals and outlines the necessary key processes to meet customer objectives. The Learning and Growth Perspective involves intangible drivers of future success, such as human resources, organizational capital, and information capturing, including skills, training, organizational culture, leadership, systems, and databases.

The implementation of a balanced scorecard offers organizations the chance to evaluate their current programs, services, and processes. This evaluation includes determining if the correct services are being provided to customers (i.e., are they doing the right things?) and if the current processes are the most efficient and cost-effective.

Performance measurements help organizations manage both their financial and non-financial performance, leading to increased accountability and improved alignment with the organizational strategy. This, in turn, results in better services and greater customer satisfaction. By measuring and reporting performance, organizations can identify areas for improvement and ensure that they are on the right track.

The organisation creates specific metrics that can be analysed to find answers to these questions. Once suitable metrics are found, data collection and tracking procedures are established. This allows the organisation to make adjustments and assess its performance over time. This process forms a continuous feedback loop, where measurement information is used to realign initiatives as needed.

Alignment of an organization's business areas and activities with its overall strategy, identification of critical financial and non-financial measures, identification of cause-and-effect relationships among measures for problem diagnosis and accountability across the organization can be achieved through the use of scorecards. The original model for the Balanced Scorecard consisted of four boxes. However, a potential issue with this model was that companies could create objectives and measures for each perspective without linking them together. To address this, many organizations developed management dashboards that offer a more comprehensive overview of key performance indicators in these four perspectives.

A Strategy Map demonstrates the interconnectedness of the four perspectives by illustrating how objectives in one perspective support objectives in other perspectives. It outlines an organization's desired achievements in terms of financial and customer objectives, as well as the methods it intends to employ in order to achieve them through internal processes and learning and growth objectives. This cause-and-effect logic is a crucial aspect of effective Balanced Scorecards, enabling companies to consolidate their strategic objectives into a cohesive and comprehensive framework on a single page.

Assessment activity 10

Three types of financial reports that can be used to track progress and monitor performance include the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement. The balance sheet provides information about a company’s current financial position based on its assets, liabilities, and equity. It helps determine the company’s liquidity, solvency, and position relative to industry competitors. The income statement focuses on a company’s profitability, showing its net income as the difference between revenues and costs. This statement reveals the company’s ability to generate revenue and manage expenses. The cash flow statement presents details of a company’s operating, investing, and financing activities. Unlike earnings, cash flows offer a more accurate reflection of a company’s financial performance as they are less susceptible to manipulation by accountants and management.

Assessment activity 11

What does a gap analysis entail?

Gap analysis is a technique used to identify the necessary steps to go from the current state to a desired future state. The process involves listing the characteristic factors of the present situation (referred to as "what is"), cross-referencing them with the factors required to achieve future objectives (known as "what should be"), and identifying the gaps that need to be addressed.

Also known as need-gap analysis, needs analysis, and needs assessment.

A gap analysis involves analyzing the reasons for the gap between current results and long-term objectives in order to improve a company or organization's performance. The analysis begins by asking two fundamental questions: Where are you currently? Where do you want to be in the future? It is important to provide detailed answers to these questions in order to develop realistic action plans. Assess your current situation and evaluate your performance. However, conducting a gap analysis alone will not yield any significant results unless proactive solutions are implemented to address the identified needs and achieve the desired outcomes effectively.

Assessment activity 12: Discuss the various forms of mentoring.

Informal mentoring:

This form of mentoring allows employees to engage in an informal mentor/protégé relationship. Informal mentoring is less structured than formal mentoring and can happen at any point in a person's career. The mentor or protégé can initiate the relationship. Some examples of how an informal mentoring relationship can start are: a senior employee recognizing potential issues in a younger employee and offering advice and guidance, an employee seeking out a senior employee they admire to develop a relationship, or a supervisor recommending a specific employee to receive mentoring from a senior employee.

Formal mentoring:

Formal mentoring follows a structured approach that includes an agreement between the mentor and mentee, a well-defined framework, and possibly a support program. This type of mentoring involves discussing expectations, goals, and the specific process to be followed. Both parties agree on the frequency and duration of their interactions and establish ground rules. Individuals can either create their own mentoring arrangements or join an existing mentoring program.

Peer mentoring:

In this form of mentoring, two individuals engage in a mentoring partnership where they alternate in mentoring each other as peers. Both individuals facilitate the mentoring journey by asking questions, actively listening, and reflecting. As with other types of mentoring, there is room for sharing perspectives, expressing opinions, and providing information. Nevertheless, the ultimate decision-making authority always lies with the individual who will carry out and face the consequences of their actions. This approach becomes easier due to the mutual recognition of peers, allowing for input to be offered and received as information rather than advice.

Group mentoring is a valuable opportunity for individuals to learn and grow together with the guidance and support of a mentor.

One mentor can be paired with multiple mentees who meet simultaneously. The mentor involves all group members in the conversation by asking questions, listening, and reflecting. Each individual contributes their own experience and insight, and can gain valuable perspectives from the discussion. This is particularly beneficial in larger mentoring settings where diverse viewpoints might not be typically considered.

Assessment activity 13

Performance monitoring is important in negotiating variations to operational plans.

Continuous risk management is facilitated by effective performance monitoring in the operational planning process. By monitoring the plan from all angles and identifying areas in need of adjustment or reassessment, goals can be achieved and key performance indicators (KPIs) can be met. This ultimately minimizes the impact of risks and allows for the implementation of contingencies if necessary. Early identification of issues allows for negotiation with authorized individuals or groups, enabling the approval and implementation of variation strategies.

Assessment activity 14

Organisational policies on documenting performance should include an outline of what should be covered.

When it comes to documenting performance, the organizational policies should be easily accessible, such as through the organization's intranet. These policies should encompass:

The text includes various aspects related to workplace regulations and guidelines, including legislation or business guidelines for expected performance and behavior. It also encompasses performance management guidelines, discipline processes, grievance and appeal structures, guides for storage and access of employee files, audit and assessment guidelines for work health and safety, compliance to operating models and routines, the achievement of output budgets, and an A-Z list of relevant forms.

Updated: Feb 16, 2024
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Developing Effective Operational Plans: Key Components and Strategies. (2016, Apr 22). Retrieved from

Developing Effective Operational Plans: Key Components and Strategies essay
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