Companies often confuse strategic, tactical, and operational planning. Strategic planning sets your organization’s long-term vision and goals. Tactical planning is the process of figuring out how to achieve your strategic plan. And operational planning links the two, outlining the procedural steps you’ll take to meet your goals. A sound operational plan is critical for achieving success in your organization.
What Is Operational Planning?
Operational planning is the process of creating actionable steps that your team can take to meet the goals in your strategic plan. An operational plan outlines daily, weekly, and monthly tasks for each department or employee. During operational planning, you’ll also create milestones that help you achieve your strategic plan. For example, if your strategic plan aims to grow your customer base by 20%, your operational plan will include incremental steps to gain new leads and customers.
What Are the Benefits of an Operational Plan?
A well-constructed operational plan makes everyone’s jobs easier. The benefits include:
- Clear guidance: With actionable steps for each department, operational plans help teams understand if they are performing well or need to improve.
- Better workflow: Each team knows what they’ll be working on over the month or quarter, and they can adjust their workflow as needed.
- Improves morale: All employees can see how their day-to-day work connects to the company’s broader goals.
Creating an Effective Operational Plan
Operational plans help you hit strategic goals, so start by reviewing your strategic plan. Your operational plan should be specific to a department or team, so your organization will likely have more than one operational plan. Identify the key stakeholders for a particular team: they’ll be best suited to develop the plan, which should include:
- Departmental objectives
- Key performance indicators
- Staffing and budget needs
- Process for tracking and reporting on progress
Once the plan is complete, you can replicate this process for each department. Plans should be shared department-wide for feedback and questions.
Also referred to as departmental goals or objectives, operational goals are the short-term targets that your organization wants to hit. An operational plan includes operational goals and the steps to achieve them. Typically, organizational goals are:
- Tied to a specific department or team
- Tied to a budget line or item
- Tied to a specific short time frame, such as a month or a quarter
Operational Goals Examples
All operational goals should be measurable and actionable. Actionable means your team can achieve them – so the goal cannot be dependent on an outside factor. For example, your IT team may be tasked with training 10 new employees on security best practices each quarter. But if 10 employees aren’t hired in a particular quarter, that operational goal is not actionable.
To be measurable, there must be a clear way to tell if you met your operational goal or not. For example, one operational goal for an accounting team might be to process invoices more quickly. Their accounting software should be able to collect data on how quickly invoices are processed and paid, so the team can measure their performance over time and see if they are working more efficiently.
Share Your Operational Plan
An operational plan shouldn’t be static – it’s a living document. As time goes on, you may need to adjust your operational goals. That isn’t a sign of failure – it means you’re doing a better job of understanding how each team functions and setting your targets accordingly. You should keep your plan up to date and revisit it regularly, whether once a year or at the end of each fiscal quarter. Include key stakeholders in this process so that the plan works for everyone.
Start Your Operational Plan with Spider Impact
Creating an operational plan might seem challenging at first – but once you get started, it can help all your teams run more smoothly. See how Spider Impact helps you define, measure, manage and report on your operational goals. Click for a free test drive or demo.
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