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An operational plan, also known as an action plan, is derived from an organisation’s strategic plan. It is a more concrete, detailed document that outlines how the strategic plans of an organisation will be achieved in practice. It includes projects to be undertaken, actions, resource policies, responsibilities and timeframes. It outlines the actions teams/individuals within an organisation will take to achieve its objectives and also outlines any major projects within the relative time period.
An operational plan will contain details of:
Consultation is a key element in the development of an operational plan and it is imperative in ensuring the details of the plan, the resource allocations and the timelines set are realistic, relevant and achievable.
Consultation should be an ongoing process, right from the beginning and throughout the entirety of the operational plan.
Consultation can be achieved in many ways, both formally, using such tools as information sessions, meetings, workshops, focus groups, one-on-one interviews, feedback mechanisms or communication mechanisms; or informally, by relying on personal relationships and informal conversations with other stakeholders.
Use of these techniques should be scheduled to occur before the operational plan is put to action, but they should not stop there. As planning progresses, it is important to consult with stakeholders to seek further input and, for those that have major contributions, to gather feedback. As plans come to fruition and projects commence, it is important to constantly seek feedback and input, in order to monitor, evaluate and refine the planning processes and the actions undertaken.
The next important step of the consultation process, once feedback has been gathered, is to use the information effectively and communicate this back to the relevant stakeholders. When stakeholders see the positive flow-on effects of feedback they have offered, it makes them more likely to offer quality contributions the next time they are asked. This creates an open and flowing cycle of communication and feedback throughout the entire planning process, which leads to a highly monitored plan, formed through consultation with relevant stakeholders. This regular feedback enables the organisation and those managing the operational planning, to evaluate and refine the planning procedure.
Budgets are the mechanisms through which organisations can monitor their financial health. Budgets are essentially plans for the organisation’s money and resources. They should be monitored regularly to assess the organisation’s progress against agreed targets and to flag any potential issues. Individual areas should update and report internally on a regular basis (i.e. monthly), which, in turn, would lead to reports being delivered to senior management every quarter.
These reports can be used to update the budget forecast and contain information about the current state of accounts (i.e. spendings vs earnings). It is important to frequently review and adjust budgets to take into account changing circumstances, such as, project delays, project blowouts, changes to staffing levels and changes in the currency exchange rates. These adjustments are necessary to reflect actual circumstances that apply to specific projects, work units, the organisation as a whole and the broader economic and financial climate. Within an organisation, there is generally a senior management group or committee responsible for ensuring the financial statements present a full and accurate position of the organisation’s financial situation and that any variants from budget are fully explained. When creating financial reports, depending on the level of detail the organisation requires, the following sources may need to be analysed:
There are many resources that require planning for an operational plan. These can include:
A process of research and consultation needs to be carried out to adequately allocate resources. A detailed planning ‘diary’ can be a useful resource for helping individuals who are responsible for planning and to carry out their duties in a timely and comprehensive fashion.
Today, more and more businesses understand that being successful is about more than just economic performance, but that it is also about their environmental and social performance. They are aware that increasing use of the Earth’s natural resources places a strain on the planet. Responsible businesses are, therefore, making every effort to ensure that they use resources efficiently.
Resource efficiency refers to maximising the supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively, with minimum wasted effort or expense. Five ways an organisation could reduce the amount of paper and energy used and wasted could include:
Cleaner production starts with cleaner procurement. Buying recycled materials can reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. Give preference to products that are designed for long life, are reusable or recyclable, and are made and packaged with minimum material.
Only store what you need. Good inventory management can save money. Keep all storage areas uncluttered, clean and clearly labeled. Avoid keeping empty containers, unless they have a specific use. Establish clearly signed, segregated areas for appropriate storage of all equipment, materials and wastes.
Using less costs less. If you reduce your energy consumption you can save money and reduce greenhouse gases caused by burning fossil fuels. Turn off all lights and equipment when they do not need to be operating. Use energy efficient office equipment and power saving functions where they will be most effective. Use the most efficient lights — triphosphor tubes are cheaper to run than fluorescent lights.
Fix dripping taps and leaking pipes — a dripping tap wastes more than $100 a year. Install water saving accessories around your business, contact your local water authority for ideas.
Segregated waste can often be recycled and may be a valuable product for another business. The three R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Quantify the waste you produce. Waste is the difference between the materials you pay for and the materials your customer pays for. Examine each process step to determine where wastes are produced and to devise measures for waste prevention or reduction. Many wastes occur because of process inefficiency. Devise ways of reducing your waste with your employees and suppliers so they too can share in the savings, for example rewards for employees and suppliers who reduce waste. Reuse drums and containers where possible. Ask suppliers to exchange empties. Identify ways of reusing materials in the process at different stages.
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