Operational Planning

Operational planning definition.

What does operational planning mean? Operational planning creates a detailed roadmap based on a strategic plan. The operational plan aligns timelines, action items and key milestones that finance or the business needs to complete to execute on the strategic plan. In this way, an operational plan outlines the organization’s key objectives and goals and clarifies how the organization will achieve them.

During the operational planning process, finance or the business responsibilities are described in detail based on the timeline for the operational plan. The timeframe should depend on typical organizational velocity; creating an annual operational plan is a fluid, changing process, so keeping clarity and collaboration is vital for success.

A well-conceived business operational plan keeps team members collaborating smoothly, ensures everyone knows what needs to be done and what their part in it is, and guides critical decisions about long-term strategy.

Key steps of operational planning

  • Define the goal or vision for the operational plan clearly
  • Analyze and identify key business stakeholders, resources and budgets team members, budgets, and resources
  • Consistently track and inform team members and stakeholders on progress
  • Adapt the operational plan to wider company goals as needed

What Is Operational Planning?

Operational planning faqs.

What is operational planning for finance or the business? Operational planning is the result of a team or department working to execute a strategic plan. It is a future-oriented process that maps out department goals, capabilities, and budgets to promote the success of team-based activities designed to support the strategic plan.

Operational business plans are most effective when there is buy-in from the entire team or department, ensuring issues are reported, goals identified and timelines get delivered,, and business collaboration is more effective. When communication across finance and the business exists, operational plans work even more efficiently to ensure that the entire organization reaches its goals.

An example of operational planning would be a manufacturer creating a plan to increase revenue by 30%. Finance partners with sales, the marketing team, operations and other key business areas to align on the strategies needed to support revenue growth and achieve business goals together. Another operational planning example might be a brand looking to introduce a new product. It would need to leverage and expand existing capabilities, harness new tools, and create a roadmap for doing so.

Other operational planning examples in management include mapping business or production output to meet other new goals, planning for new or expanded solutions, sales and operational planning, providing a roadmap or increased clarity surrounding business goals, or creating a strategy for increased business partnership.

Strategic Planning vs Operational Planning

There is a difference between strategic planning, tactical planning, and operational planning. However, strategic, tactical, and operational planning need to be considered together and build upon one another.

What is a strategic plan?

A strategic plan describes the high-level goals, long-term vision, and organizational mission, usually over the next three to five years. It also details the major projects or initiatives that will happen to meet them, and how the organization will measure the goals, broadly. This is a big picture view of goals, but it can’t really show a team how to achieve those goals step-by-step.

What is an operational plan ?

An operational plan (also known as an operations plan, work plan, or operation plan) is a detailed outline of what a team or department will focus on in the immediate future—typically within the upcoming year. The operational plan answers questions about things like weekly goals and tasks, such as what they are generally, what they will achieve, who will do them, and how often.

What is a tactical plan?

Tactical planning is a step organizations or teams sometimes take after they create strategic and operational plans. The idea is to break the plans into smaller goals and objectives, to define them and determine which steps and actions will be most effective in achieving them. In other words, the operational plan may just have set a goal or task for person A about goal 1, but a tactical plan might set forth the detailed steps person A will need to execute every week.

Tactical planning and operational planning differ in the kinds of questions they ask. Operational plans ask how the team should do something so they can both adhere more broadly to the organizational mission and specific strategic goals. Tactical plans ask specific questions about how to accomplish strategic and operational goals. They are the most microscopic version of planning.

In summary, a strategic plan is a business-level, long-term strategy plan over the next three to five years. It is a visionary plan, the big picture. Its focus is not on implementation. An operational plan is smaller in timeline and both scope, and the goal of operational planning is both to describe a more granular view of how to achieve strategic goals and to focus on implementation in the form of weekly actions, specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), etc. A tactical plan is the narrowest view that is focused on implementation only, and things like daily tasks for one person or a small team and smaller goals.

Strategic and operational planning work together; operational planning is an important part of a whole strategy. Tactical planning helps teams achieve their strategic and operational planning goals.

The goal of an operational plan is to give particular tasks to specific departments, not the company as a whole, whereas it is strategic vs operational planning that sets forth long-term goals for the next three to five years.

What is the Operational Planning Process?

Going through the operational planning cycle, keep these best practices and operational planning techniques in mind.

Research and Identify Goals

The goal of an operational plan and its creation process should be to address some foundational questions:

  • Start with the strategic plan: how will it shape the actions we take?
  • What is the budget? How will it compare to previous years?
  • What is the current status, considering budget, resources, and team members? What is the goal status in one, two, three years, etc.?
  • How can the team practically achieve the goal? What operational planning methodology informs the approach? What are the operational planning tools we will use?
  • What benchmarks should be used to assess our progress? They might include 5-star reviews, customer service cases closed, launch deadlines met, number of goods manufactured, new customers acquired, revenue increases, etc.

Ask team members the questions, and prioritize responses based on how difficult they are to execute, and how critical.

Visualize the Operational Plan

Make sure the vision for the plan is clearly articulated. Clearly defined goals, charts and visualizations, and project management software can help offer a high-level view of tasks and progress for all stakeholders. Identify which operational business planning techniques and tools will work best for achieving the organization’s goals.

Assign People and Budget

The budgeting process in operational planning consists of assigning tasks and allocating resources and budget for team members to complete them. Each piece of the budget should map out to a financial goal in the operational plan with corresponding timetables and deliverables.

Tracking and Informing Progress

Build out a reporting process that corresponds to the clear objectives with goals, targets, deliverables, resource allocation, and timetables in the operational plan. This way the stakeholders can report progress as the plan moves forward.

Adjust the Operational Plan as Needed

A well-conceived operational plan should allow you to understand precisely which activities and aspects of the plan failed to perform. This in turn allows the team to pivot, involve new team members as needed, and continue to the next benchmark with a refined operational plan.

Consider the Right Indicators

Use key performance metrics or indicators that are predictive, not just lagging indicators. You need some lagging indicators such as past sales or attendance figures, but leading indicators such as market trends should also contribute to both reporting progress and adjusting the operational plan.

What Should Operational Planning Include?

Approaches to operational planning vary, but each team has as its main objective producing a functional operational plan that reflects a practical approach to the organization’s mission and strategic plan.

What should an operational plan include? This strategic document should plan all of the daily processes and operations that a business and its teams or departments including marketing, recruitment, and finance need to do to achieve company goals.

A well-defined operational plan should ensure that each manager and employee understands what their specific responsibilities are, and how and when to execute them.

The operation plan itself should have several components:

  • A title page. This summarizes the operational plan.
  • An executive summary. This provides a few sentences with a rough idea of the overall plan and its basic sections.
  • Mission and objectives. This section defines the organization’s broader mission and objectives. It also describes goals and milestones for the coming year that relate to the operational plan.
  • KPIs. Evaluate metrics and KPIs that will measure results.
  • Financial summary. This offers an overview and a financial breakdown of all projects included in the operational plan to demonstrate there is sufficient capital to execute the plan.
  • Hiring plan. Determine how many monthly/quarterly team members to hire across different departments.
  • Key assumptions and risks. Provide this risk analysis so mitigation can be performed.
  • Next steps. Suggest next steps, if any.

What are the Steps in Operational Planning?

The purpose of the operational planning process is not to generate new goals or plans, but to create an operational plan in support of existing strategic goals:

Start with a strategic plan

Create the strategic plan first. Before considering immediate tasks and day-to-day details, it’s important to see the long-term vision and goals. As the leadership team creates the strategic plan, they determine the position of the organization and develop its strategy. They should also monitor the strategic plan, and adjust it as needed.

Sharpen the scope

Narrow the scope of the operational plan to a department, team, or focus area to ensure it is detail-oriented and targeted. The size of the organization determines the scope of your operational plan. In other words, you start big with the strategic plan, and then narrow down to the operational plan and the focus area of the team who will execute it—and then create various supporting action plans for execution.

Identify key stakeholders

Identify stakeholders in the operational planning process before creating an operational plan. The team members who create the operational plan should lead and inform others around the operational plan, so you’ll need to know who they are before execution.

Create the operational plan

Your operational plan sets forth the timeframe, the goals to achieve, and explains the actions the team will take to achieve those goals on time. It must include objectives, deliverables, quality standards (if any), desired outcomes, operating budget, staffing and resource requirements, and progress and monitoring information.

For example:

An organization’s strategic plan sets forth the goal of the marketing team increasing brand awareness by at least 10% in the next year. This will mean increased engagement with potential customers and more eyes on new marketing materials.

This will require support from the design team, who will have new goals: update the website and create new promotional materials. To achieve those goals, they will collaborate with the development team on the update and hire social media engagement team members. The team will use software and management tools to report and track their progress.

Share the operational plan

Share the operational plan with key stakeholders so they understand mission critical goals and the daily tasks that support them. Track progress in real-time for best results. This also allows you to update the operational plan and report on progress as needed to team members and stakeholders. Like project planning, operational planning is never a one-and-done task, but remains a continuous process.

Why is Operational Planning Important?

At the organizational level, project success demands a strong operational plan. Chaos and confusion often reign without an operational plan, as budgets rise and team members lose sight of tasks and deadlines.

The importance of operational planning is in the creation of a single source of truth that enables comprehensive understanding of mission, strategic goals, and how to achieve them. An operational plan helps teams identify areas that cause lack of clarity, missed revenue generation opportunities, inefficient strategies, or areas of reduced business partnership.

What are the Benefits of Operational Planning?

The advantages of operational planning can impact organizations of any size. An operational plan helps teams reach strategic goals by connecting teams and their individual tasks to company goals. A detail-oriented operational plan has many benefits.

It clarifies organizational goals. Operational planning helps leadership define responsibilities, daily tasks, and activities in detail. It also sets out how individual team members support overall department and organizational goals and defines outcomes for them to measure daily tasks against.

It also boosts team productivity. Operational planning enhances efficiency, productivity, and profits by ensuring employees in each department and across the company know their daily responsibilities and objectives.

Operational planning disadvantages include creating an operational plan based on human error, or whose success is overly dependent upon effective coordination of diverse cross-functional teams. Singular focus only on coordination and not connecting the business is a primary disadvantage of implementing an operations planning process.

Who is Responsible for Operational Planning?

Create an operational plan at the department or team level to best precisely capture the roles and tasks. At a larger organization, an operational plan might even be specific to a particular initiative—much like a detailed tactical or work plan.

There several considerations that determine who creates operational plans:

  • Scope. For every activity, the operational plan includes the who, what, and when and must be laser-focused on the initiative itself and the team. Watch to ensure scope is not too broad.
  • Timeline. An operational plan should cover a quarter, six months, or a fiscal year, depending on organizational speed and velocity.
  • Stakeholders. To accurately predict what work to include in the plan, ensure operational planning stakeholders stay close to the work. Finance must unit the business from tactical details to strategic execution.

Typically, the operational plan is the realm of middle-management, in contrast to the top-down execution style from the C-suite the strategic plan receives. Its scope is also narrower and as routine tasks are mapped out, which continuously evolves Changes to the strategic plan will be less frequent.

Given the focus on day-to-day activities, allocation of resources, and tasks, middle-managers are often best-suited to map out and implement the operational plan.

Does Planful Help With Operational Planning?

Yes. Planful’s financial performance platform unites the demand for structured planning originating in finance with the business need for dynamic planning. Planful empowers organizations to make smarter decisions more confidently, rapidly, and strategically and ensures the data collection process for operational planning isn’t a time-consuming, manual process.

Use Planful to build collaborative financial plans that align resources with strategic objectives. Adjust and pivot as business conditions change, model hundreds of different scenarios reliably, and turn annual plans into quarterly or monthly rolling forecasts, all based on what the organization needs now.

Find out more about Planful’s Operational Planning solution here.

Get Started with Planful

What is an Operational Plan? A Complete Playbook (+ Examples, Tips & More)

Introduction.

Without a plan, your business operations are as good as a children’s playground—everyone’s doing their own thing with no care in the world. 

An operational plan brings order to your organization. It defines the functional aspects of your long-term strategy, like goals, milestones, responsibilities and timelines, to build collaboration and make real progress toward your vision. 

Teams often overlook the importance of operational plan management, leading to miscommunication, unnecessary roadblocks and slow growth. 

If you don't want to end up in a chaotic playground with everything going south, read this start-to-finish guide on operational planning. We'll share a 6-step process of making your own operational plan with a few examples to inspire you.

TL;DR: What is an operational plan?

  • An operational plan clarifies the details of your strategy, assigns responsibilities, and sets milestones and timelines.
  • Use an operational plan to create a roadmap, assign roles, track progress, establish criteria for success, and minimize errors.
  • To develop an operational plan, create a fail-proof strategic plan, establish clear goals and budgets, define the project scope, create the operational plan, get stakeholders' buy-in, and publish the plan using the right tool.

What is an operational plan?

An operational plan is a roadmap designed to implement your business strategies. It operationalizes your strategic plan by defining:

  • Vision and objectives behind a strategy.
  • Budget and resources required for execution.
  • Weekly, monthly and quarterly milestones. 
  • Relevant metrics to track progress consistently. 

‎An operational plan clarifies all the finer details about your strategy—like what, who, when and how—to help you realize the bigger vision. It’s a work plan for transferring the available inputs into the desired outputs. 

Operational planning vs. strategic planning

While operational and strategic planning might sound the same, they have significantly different meanings. Let's take a quick look at these differences to understand what an operational plan stacks up against a strategic plan.

5 reasons why you need an operational plan

Only setting goals without a solid operational plan to implement them is like making new year’s resolutions that never come true. 

Without a clear direction of what to do and how, you’d end up wasting your resources with little to no progress to show for it. An operational plan helps move the needle for your company by clarifying the steps to success and bringing more accountability. 

Still wondering how an operational plan can keep you on track? These five benefits will clue you in:

1. Creating an airtight roadmap

If a strategic plan defines the destination, an operational plan chalks out the itinerary to reach that destination. This actionable roadmap covers all bases to streamline collaboration within the team and set up the right systems to hit your milestones. 

2. Attributing roles to all stakeholders

Making an operational plan allows you to assign responsibilities to all internal and external stakeholders. It clarifies who’s responsible for what and sets expectations from the start. This is key for bringing everyone on the same page and avoiding roadblocks once the work is underway. 

3. Tracking progress & making strategic changes

Timelines and milestones are two of the most crucial components of an operational plan in business. They empower teams to analyze their performance and review progress objectively. You can use these insights to tweak your game plan for greater success and to improve operational efficiency .

4. Establishing criteria & metrics for success 

An operational plan outlines the parameters for success and metrics to monitor the same. These metrics give you a clear picture of your progress at every stage to ensure you’re moving as per the plan. They also highlight any potential red flags that can potentially derail the plan and need your attention. 

5. Minimizing discrepancies & errors

One of the most important benefits of making an operational plan is the clarity it brings to everyone. Instead of leaving your team clueless about the next steps, this work plan clarifies how and where they can start. It also reduces errors by laying down the ground rules for every task and process.

How to develop an operational plan strategy

There’s no standard rulebook for creating an operational plan. It’s a fully customizable document that depends entirely on your company’s goals, resources, timelines and overall approach. 

For example, a fast-paced team can work with shorter timelines and hit more goals than a large-scale organization with more levels of checks and a bigger hierarchy.  

So, instead of replicating other companies’ operational plans, let’s help you create your own plan with this 6-step process:

  • Draw out a fail-proof strategic plan.
  • Establish clear goals and budgets.
  • Dig deeper into the project scope.
  • Create your operational plan.
  • Get all stakeholders’ buy-in for the plan.
  • Publish the plan using the right tool.

1. Draw out a fail-proof strategic plan

A strategic plan is to an operational plan what a storyline is to a movie—it conveys the essence and creates a direction for the operational plan to become a masterpiece. 

So, naturally, the first step to operational planning is creating a strategic plan; here’s how:

  • Define what success looks like for the entire organization. 
  • Evaluate organizational readiness to implement this strategy. 
  • Take inputs from people in the senior leadership. 
  • Assign responsibilities to different stakeholders. 
  • Prioritize goals against timelines. 

Once done, you can rely on this strategic plan throughout the operational planning process to prepare for what lies ahead. 

💡 ‎Use these 14 free customizable project plan templates to enhance communication, save time and achieve your strategic planning goals.

2. Establish clear goals & budgets

The next step is breaking your high-level goals into shorter, more actionable objectives. For example, you can divide the goal of achieving an X% growth in revenue into smaller targets, like increasing inbound leads, doubling down on cold outreach and rolling out a referral program. 

Goal-setting makes your operational plan realistic and feasible. You're ideating the means to realize the long-term vision by hitting the right milestones. 

More importantly, once you have a list of goals, it's easier to determine the budget and resources required to achieve them. Before moving ahead, do your homework to set a solid budget that allows you to implement your strategy without splurging too much. 

3. Dig deeper into the project scope

Once you’re clear about your goals and resources, it’s time to define the finer details of your plan—specifying who’ll do what, when and how. 

Create a comprehensive project scope by outlining:

  • Department-wise goals and tasks according to the goals.
  • Different stakeholders involved within and outside your company. 
  • Responsibility set for each stakeholder with primary KPIs for their role.
  • SOPs  and  workflows  to perform a task or complete a process. 

This step brings more specificity to your operational plan. It concretely spells out each goal with details about milestones within each goal, roles and teams responsible for fulfilling these milestones and how they will work toward the end goals. 

💡 ‎ Scribe top tip: Creating a project scope document is a breeze when you use Scribe. You can use Scribe's project scope template to get cracking at the earliest. 

4. Create your operational plan

By this point, you've done all the legwork to get to work and start writing your operational plan finally.

Make it as actionable and value-packed as possible by answering these five main questions:

  • Who: People involved in different tasks. Include a list of teams and specific roles involved in the business operations and clarify what’s expected of them. 
  • What: Plan of action and targets to pursue. Create a milestone-based roadmap of the high-level goals to achieve and the smaller goals involved in the process. 
  • Where: Platform(s) where daily operations will happen. Add all the tools and frameworks you'll use to run business operations through this plan seamlessly. 
  • When: Deadlines for different tasks and activities. Map out the timelines for each job to ensure your team is on track for timely completion. 
  • ‍ How much: Costs involved in hitting the designated goals. Mention your final budget and resource allocation for different tasks.

Use Scribe's free AI Writer for Operations tool to capture and document operational procedures.

‎Additionally, a good operational plan also lists the metrics to track your progress. Pick and explain relevant metrics in your plan to show employees how you'll analyze their efforts.  ‍

5. Get all stakeholders’ buy-in for the plan

No plan is perfect and there's always scope for improving your operational plan to make it perfect. So, once you've drafted the plan, don't forget to run it by a few select stakeholders to identify the gaps you can cover. 

Actively seek feedback from people in different ranks and departments to understand the missing links in your plan. Your plan will go through 2-3 rounds of iterations before it’s finally ready to roll out. 

6. Publish the plan using the right tool

The final step in the process is publishing the plan. The most important thing to remember is that your plan should be:

  • Reader-friendly.
  • Easily accessible.
  • Quickly shareable. 

Clueless about the best way to hit all three points to roll out your operational plan? We have just the solution you need — Scribe . 

‎Scribe is a documentation tool designed to create intuitive documents, like an operational plan, in a few seconds. It significantly reduces the time spent on creating such documents and improves team efficiency in more ways than one.

‎You can create a single Scribe to explain a process or compile instructions with SOPs in a single place with Pages. You can even ask the AI to write your operational plan — just add a simple prompt and your Scribes, and the AI will build a customized document!

‎It's the easiest way to bring your team on the same page and power up your operations! 

3 operational plan examples (& why they work)

If you’re looking for some inspiration to get cracking with your planning process, looking at a few operations plan examples can help big time! Let’s look at three great examples, see why they work and how you can replicate the results. 

1. Carter Supply’s risk management plan

This detailed risk management plan by Carter Supply covers several aspects of managing risk at the organization. This 10-page document lists the key components of this plan, like a summary, the approval process and the end-to-end risk management process. 

As an operational plan, it gives the entire team clear insights into the risk management plan, highlights why it’s in place and explains how this plan will be used. 

This plan also covers different aspects of the plan and lays down the process of working on each element. For example, for risk quantification, the plan specifies that the risk manager will work with the risk owner to understand the exposure. 

2. Upscope’s go-to-market plan

Upscope ’s go-to-market (GTM) plan is another excellent example of operational planning. The SaaS company created this plan to execute its strategy for breaking into the co-browsing market. 

Pursuing this goal, the team created an airtight plan with a rundown of its target audience, pain points the product solves and the buyer journey. 

The Upscope marketing and sales teams could use this GTM plan to launch targeted campaigns and reach the right people. They were also well aware of the main value propositions to share with the target buyers, nudging them towards a purchase. 

📌 ‎Related resource: How Product Operations Can Help Your Team Build Better Products

3. SmartNet’s project quality management plan

The quality management plan by SmartNet is a detailed document explaining the company’s entire operations framework, from the management structure to project reporting, risk assessment, deliverable production and more. 

Instead of a single department, this operational plan documents the complete business operations. Despite being so lengthy, the document is easy to read and understand—exactly how the plan should look like.

It also includes all the critical information to guide new employees about the company's operations from scratch.

Make operational planning your road to success 

When done right, operational planning can be a game-changer for streamlining your operations. It’s an in-depth roadmap to work toward your vision and hit all goals. 

Even though making an operational plan isn’t the most exciting task and it can get extremely time-consuming, the right process and tools can do the trick for you. Follow the six steps we’ve highlighted in this guide and when you’re ready to roll, use Scribe to put the plan in place. 

Scribe takes the pain out of documentation to empower teams for seamless operational planning. Try it today to see how it works!

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Operational Plan: What is it & How to Create it? (Free Template Included)

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Want to create an operational plan to ensure smooth implementation of daily activities of your business? No worries, we have got you covered. Read on…

Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark. ~  Richard Cushing

Running a business is quite similar to sailing a ship! You have to make sure that every aspect is working in the correct motion for you to stay afloat. Can you sail if you have no clear vision of where you’re headed, your destination, or how you will get there?

To answer these questions, you might need to create an intuitive  operational plan  for your business which would work as a lighthouse to guide you through the way and highlight any upcoming risks that could arise in the near future.

An operational plan lucidly describes the business vision and mission! This document is coherently chalked out for the day-to-day running of any business and outlines the operations related to finance, recruitment, marketing, and other resources required for a successful company.

However, crafting such documents can be time-consuming! Therefore, we decided to create a free plug-and-play operational plan template for your team! But before we hop onto our awesome template, let us first understand what exactly is an operation plan and what to include in such documents.

Read on…

What is an Operational Plan? (Definition)

An operational plan is a strategic document that outlines all the planning related to daily operations and processes required for running a successful business. It entails all the activities that different teams or departments like recruitment, marketing, and finance, need to perform to achieve company goals and objectives.

The main objective of a well-defined operational plan ensures each manager and employee knows their specific responsibilities, as well as how they should execute them within a definite timeline.

An employee creating checklist for operational plan

Why is an Operational Plan Important?

The whole point of operational planning is to see the effect of your operations on the business’s working in real-time, so you know exactly when to execute your major strategies.

An operational plan helps you identify areas that are not generating enough revenue or are causing losses, and then assists you with formulating the necessary changes. This document also plays a crucial role in keeping all key stakeholders, management, and board members on the same page.

Everyone needs to be aligned with the company’s mission, goals, risks, hiring needs, financial projections, key performance indicators (KPIs), etc. An operational plan will help every department focus on their contribution to the larger vision by bringing all leading members together under one roof!

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Read more:  Operational Efficiency: Definition, Importance & Ways to Improve it!

How to Create an Operational Plan? Follow these Steps!

Step 1. create a title page.

While writing an operational plan, the first thing to do is to create a title page for it. This provides all the information about the topic at a single glance.

Here, you will include the title of your document, the registered name of your company, the designation, and the name of the person who creates the document.

Step 2. Write an Executive Summary

An executive summary refers to a section that deals with what a topic is all about in a brief manner. This is to ensure that your readers have a rough idea of the content and encourage them to read on.

In this section, you emphasize the gist of your overall plan and provide a concise explanation of all the important sections in a few sentences.

Step 3. Define Mission and Objectives

Define your organization’s mission and determine your company’s goals and objectives.

Ask yourself what the company is trying to accomplish over the next year and what the major goals and milestones are that support the need for this operational plan.

Describe the company mission, vision, and the reasons this plan is important. Have there been changes in the competitive landscape? Have you raised a round of capital?

Doing this will help you evaluate and measure your company’s performance against your missions and objectives and see how well you are doing in terms of achieving or meeting your goals.

Step 4. Provide Key Performance Indicators

In this section, you can break down each part of your business by evaluating all the major KPIs and metrics involved in measuring your results.

Provide proof of the importance of the operational plan by sharing key numbers that support the ideas in this document.

Step 5. Include a Financial Summary

The next section to be included in your operational plan is the financial summary. Here, you can give an overview of all the projects that will be included during the operational plan and include its financial breakdown. Make sure that there is enough capital to execute this plan.

Step 6. Create a Hiring Plan

Your company will have different hiring needs for each department, therefore, it is essential that you create a hiring plan to decide how many team members will be hired across different departments on a monthly/quarterly basis.

Step 7. Determine the Key Assumptions & Risks

No plan is ever free from risks and problems, so it’s important that you determine the risks to the business and address how the company could work towards mitigating those risks.

This will help your employees be prepared for any possible and potential risks and problems that may arise over the course of their projects.

Step 8. Include the Next Steps

Now that you have included all the major sections, it becomes crucial that you mention what’s going to happen next. Share the next steps, which could include the approval process, updates and reporting time frames, etc.

Step 9. Proofread

The last and final step is to proofread your document and ensure that all the major points are intact and the message is properly conveyed.

Check for spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, typos, or poorly constructed sentences. Make a colleague or another person go through your proposal to double-check everything.

Read more:   Standard Operating Procedures (SOP): What, Types, and How to Write?

Key Benefits of Creating Your Operational Plan Documentation on Bit.ai

To create an effective operational plan, you need a proficient tool that can help you create, share, and collaborate with stakeholders and work efficiently. This is where Bit comes in!

Bit.ai: Document collaboration platform

Bit serves as a central hub where collaborators, content, and communications can be accessed in one all-inclusive document. Managers can use Bit to create an operational plan document, collaborate with the team in real-time, and store all product assets in one place for easy and fast access.

Whether your team is creating the operational plan documents, project documentation, status report, release notes , roadmap, project charter , product requirements, API documentation, product launch marketing documents, pitch decks, business plan, SWOT analysis, competitive research, project management plan, etc, they can easily add spreadsheets, Slideshares, Google Slides, YouTube videos, PDFs, maps, charts, graphs, and more to your documents and make them visually stunning.

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Organization of information:   Organizational information is often scattered in cloud storage apps, emails, Slack channels, and more. Bit brings all your information in one place by allowing you to organize information in Workspaces and folders. Bring all your documents, media files, and other important company data in one place.

Brand consistency: Focus on the content and let Bit help you with the design and formatting. Bit documents are completely responsive and look great on all devices. With amazing templates and themes, Bit docs provide you with the type of brand and design consistency which is unheard of in the documentation industry

Smart search:  Bit has very robust search functionality that allows anyone to search and find any files, images, documents, etc quickly and easily across all of their workspaces. Users can search their digital assets using keywords, titles, descriptions, or tags. They can even search for files based on their source. (i.e., YouTube).

Media Integrations:  Companies use an average of 34 SaaS apps! No wonder why most of our time is spent hopping from one app to the next, looking for information. This is why Bit.ai integrates with over 100+ popular applications (YouTube, Typeform, LucidChart, Spotify, Google Drive, etc) to help teams weave information in their documents beyond just text and images.

Recommended power links and files you can add to your operational plan template:

  • Google Sheets, OneDrive Excel, Airtable
  • Social Media posts
  • YouTube, Vimeo
  • Draw.io, Lucidcharts
  • Sketchfab, Figma, Marvel
  • PDFs, PowerPoint in Google Drive/OneDrive

Sharing : Bit documents can be shared in a live state meaning that all changes that you make to the document will update in real-time. If you are sharing your documents with clients, they will always get your most up-to-date changes. You can even embed Bit documents on any website or blog.

Tons of other features:  Bit has a plethora of amazing features like document tracking, cloud-upload, templates, and themes, document locking, document expiration, and much more, making it a well-rounded documentation tool.

Bit provides a common workplace for project members to collaborate, document, share their knowledge, brainstorm ideas, store digital assets, and innovate together. The best part is that this knowledge is safely secured in your workspaces and can be shared (or kept private) with anyone in your organization or the public!

Here are some of the man benefits of using Bit:

  • Collaborate in real-time
  • Interlink operational plan documents and other documents
  • Create fully responsive documents
  • Create private operational plans only visible to yourself or your team
  • Track engagement on shared operational plans with consultants, partners, etc.

Read more:  Business Development Plan: What Is It And How To Create A Perfect One?

  • Operational Plan Template

To make the process of creating your operational plan documentation easier, we have created a ready-made operational plan template for you! Check it out below:

How to Use the Operational Plan Template with Bit

The process of creating an operational plan on Bit is insanely easy! Just follow these four simple steps to create your document quickly:

Step 1: Create a Bit Account

Go the home page of  Bit.ai  and click on Get Started for Free or Sign Up to get started. Enter your  email address  to sign up. Once in, you can create your personal profile.

Step 2: Create a Workspace

Workspaces are where the work gets done. Click on the  ‘Create Workspace’  button on the right. A popup will show up prompting you to add a name for your new workspace.  

You can create a workspace around a team, department, large project, client, partner, etc. Inside each workspace, you can create an unlimited amount of Bit documents and access your content library (storage area for all of your digital assets – web links, files, cloud files, rich embeds, etc.).

Step 3: Add Team Members

Bit allows your team members to collaborate in real-time and get work done. Collaboration starts at the workspace level.

You create private workspaces by default. However, you can invite others to join you inside of a workspace and collaborate together with the knowledge, projects, documents, and content inside of the workspace.

Step 4: Create Your Desired Document

Once you are in the workspace, click on the ‘ Create New’  button. Select  ‘From Template’  in the dropdown. A pop up will display allowing you to select a template from the gallery.

In the search box on the top left corner, you can search for an “operational plan template”. Once your desired template pops up, click on it and click on the  “Use Template ” button on the bottom right corner.

That’s it! Your document is ready for use!

Few more templates you might be interested in:

  • SWOT Analysis Template
  • Transition Plan Template
  • Scope of Work Template
  • Business Plan Template
  • Status Report Template
  • Competitor Research Template
  • Training Manual Template
  • Project Proposal Template
  • Company Fact Sheet
  • Executive Summary Template
  • Pitch Deck Template

🎥Watch this video to learn more👇

Over to You!

Operational plans bring accountability into your everyday tasks. They help you analyze the performance of your business, goals, strategies and identify the resources required to achieve those targets. These documents are a great way of managing other performance measures too like team efficacy, staff optimization, or the number of employees achieving beyond their targets.

Bit is a great tool to manage all essential resources associated with creating an operations plan. It brings all stakeholders under one roof for the smooth execution of the plan. If you need any help with the operational plan template or want to know how Bit can help your business, let us know by tweeting us @bit_docs. Cheers!

Further reads: 

How to Write an Operations Manual?

How to Create a Killer Sales Plan Document?

How to Create a Product Plan the Right Way?

What is an Implementation Plan & How to Create One?

How to Create a Strategic Process Improvement Plan?

How to Create a Procurement Management Plan: Step by Step Guide

How To Make A Full Proof Business Plan?

How To Create a Partnership Marketing Plan?

How to Create a Clear Transition Plan for your Business?

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Scope of Work: What is it & How to Create it? (Template Included)

Project Charter: What is it & How to Write it Perfectly? (Template Included)

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operational plan easy definition

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Operational Planning: How to Make an Operational Plan

June 6, 2022 - 10 min read

Yuvika Iyer

Having a strategic plan is essential to any company, but it's not enough. To ensure that the broader organizational goals are within reach, you need an operational plan for day-to-day work..

In this blog post, we’ll explain what an operational plan is, show you how to create one without feeling overwhelmed, and provide you with an example of an operational plan. We’ll also share our pre-built templates that you can start with to streamline the process.

What is an operational plan?

An operational plan is a document that outlines the key objectives and goals of an organization and how to reach them.

The document includes short-term or long-term goals in a clear way so that team members know their responsibilities and have a clear understanding of what needs to be done.

Crafting an operational plan keeps teams on track while guiding them in making crucial decisions about the company's long-term strategy.

Operational planning vs strategic planning

Though related to each other, these two planning strategies differ in their focus.

Operational planning is the process of the day-to-day work to execute your strategy. It ensures you have all the resources and staff necessary to get work done efficiently.

On the other hand, strategic planning is about looking ahead into the future, identifying the upcoming pipeline, and figuring out how you can prepare for it.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, nearly 7 million Americans are self-employed, with an additional 10 million employed by small businesses. 

If you're working at a large corporation, chances are your company will have some form of strategic goals in place. However, if you're one of the millions who work remotely and independently, your success will rely on operational planning instead.

What are the key elements of an operational plan?

The success of operational planning largely depends on setting realistic expectations for all teams.

Here are the key elements of a functional operational plan:

  • Clearly define the ultimate vision or objective for the plan
  • Review and break down the smaller goals for the operating budget, team, and resources required to put the plan into action
  • Assign budgets, team members, key stakeholders, and resources
  • Monitor progress with consistent reports
  • Refine the operational plan and be ready to pivot if needed

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Ensure all teams understand the parameters of success. Doing this shows how their work contributes to wider company goals and ensures better decision-making for the business operation.

How to create an operational planning process

Think of an operational plan as a key component in a team puzzle. It provides employees with a manual on how to operate the company.

It should be created in tandem with other foundational documents like an organizational mission statement, vision document, or business strategy. Daily, it can help answer questions such as:

  • Who should be working on what?
  • How can we mitigate those risks?
  • How will resources be assigned for different tasks?
  • Are there any internal and external risks facing the business?

To create a successful operational plan, it's important to define goals clearly. Here are several steps that will help you develop a functional operating plan:

Start with the strategic plan

Before defining an operational goal, make sure your strategic objectives are in place and relevant.

Prioritize the most critical activities first

Once these goals have been decided on, prioritize the most critical activities required to achieve these aims.

Stop diluting team efforts and let them focus on the most important goals first. Doing this means everyone works on a smaller set of tasks, instead of spreading themselves thin in multiple areas. It also helps in optimizing available resources.

Use predictive indicators

For a robust operational plan, consider using key performance metrics or indicators that can help you determine project progress and lend visibility to team activities. 

While lagging indicators look backward, leading indicators look to the future. Think of the plan as a car — the rear-view mirror would be a lagging indicator, while the windshield would be the leading indicator.

A leading indicator could be a new product, higher customer satisfaction levels, or new markets. Examples of lagging indicators include the number of people who attended an event or the monthly operating expenses for specific departments. 

Instead of lagging indicators, use leading indicators. Lagging metrics will show that your efforts are falling short only after you execute the operations.

Leading KPIs include predictive measures that allow early identification of problems before they become critical and impact business performance negatively.

Get team buy-in

The key to defining appropriate KPIs is involving the whole team in the process. Meet to discuss the business goals and figure out what measurements are right for the team instead of working independently or outsourcing them.

Ensure consistent communication

Communication is key. By understanding your company's metrics and what they mean, you'll be able to work together more effectively with colleagues to reach common goals.

Operational plan example

Let’s say that a company plans to increase production volume by 50% at the end of a fiscal year.

When the company goal is clear, the team will make a strategic plan with three main components: marketing, sales, and operations.

This can be further broken down into an operational plan, which will assign resources, teams, budgets, and timelines for different departments such as manufacturing, sourcing, accounts, finance, and logistics to achieve the increase in production. Such a plan should include a financial summary and financial projections as well.

Operational plan template

Think about the example above. The goals and parties involved are clear as part of the operational plan. At the same time, to remain on track, the plan requires continuous analysis and reviews. An operational plan template can be extremely helpful to achieve that.

An operational template can be a simple document that is reused for different plans by the same organization. However, it is also possible and extremely helpful to make use of project management software tools to create one.

For instance, Gantt charts can serve exactly that purpose. Using a Gantt chart as an operational plan template, it is possible to create and manage plans, track changes and edit project-related activities in real time. The chart allows clear visibility for timelines, tasks, responsibilities, and team members.

Operational planning advantages and disadvantages

Most businesses utilize an operational plan to keep track of their daily tasks. 

The plan outlines the day-to-day activities for running the organization — teams, managers, and employees are then able to visualize their contribution, which is crucial for reaching company goals.

But every process has two sides. Let’s review the operational planning advantages and disadvantages in more detail.

Operational planning advantages

Clarifies organizational goals.

An operational plan helps managers and department heads define their daily tasks, responsibilities, and activities in detail.

It also illustrates how individual team members contribute to the overall company or department goals. Without a clearly defined plan, managers and employees have no way to measure their daily tasks against predefined outcomes.

Boosts team productivity

Business owners are always looking for ways to increase productivity, which in turn translates into higher profits. One of the best and easiest ways to boost efficiency is through an operational plan.

Employees are more productive when they know their daily objectives and responsibilities. Conversely, if they're unsure of what is required of them, chances are their productivity will suffer. 

An operational plan provides this vital information to employees in each department and across the company as a whole.

Enhance organizational profitability

Having a plan helps in keeping projects and teams on track.

When operations are managed properly, teams are able to consistently increase revenue and develop new products.

Innovation pays off. A BCG survey points out that 60% of companies that are committed to innovation report steadily increasing revenues year after year. With an operational plan in place, teams are able to innovate better and faster.

Improves competitive advantages

Competitive advantages are made up of multiple levels and components.

Coordinating the different parts with an operational plan will make your workflows run more smoothly. This allows you to deliver high-quality deliverables on time, creating an outstanding customer experience and keeping you ahead of the competition.

Operational planning disadvantages

Possibility of human error.

Human error is a common problem in manufacturing that can often occur when transitioning from production to sale.

Operations management teams will need to coordinate effectively with diverse cross-functional teams such as finance, accounting, engineering, and human resources. In doing so, each team will have a clear understanding of the end goals of each department.

Interdependency amongst parts

One of the main disadvantages of implementing an operations planning process is that its success depends on coordination across parts.

Plans end up failing due to one part not working, which can have an adverse impact on the subsequent process. Disruptions in one process can end up affecting the entire process, making the entire operational plan useless.

Using Wrike for operational planning

Boost your organization by ensuring every project starts off on the right foot. Wrike's award-winning project management tools can help you create and execute operational plans with various pre-built templates . 

Establish your plan, monitor progress, and be prepared to pivot if necessary. With Wrike, you can share real-time data, making all milestones crystal clear for your team and helping them stay updated and on track. 

Choose the most suitable template and start a free two-week trial of Wrike today!

Yuvika Iyer

Yuvika Iyer

Yuvika is a freelance writer who specializes in recruitment and résumé writing.

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Work Skills You Need on Your Resume in 2021

Work Skills You Need on Your Resume in 2021

Navigating the highly competitive job market can be brutal. In a recent Jobvite survey, nearly three in four respondents said they believe finding a job has become much harder following the pandemic.  It’s clearer now more than ever how important it is for your resume to stand out. In fact, nearly 24% of hiring managers spend 30 seconds or less reviewing a resume to determine whether a candidate is qualified for a position or not. You quite literally have seconds to catch their attention before your resume ends up in the recycling bin with the rest of the candidates that didn’t make the cut. So, how exactly do you set yourself apart and stand out from the crowd? Highlighting your work skills on your resume is the best place to start. We did some digging and pulled together some work skills examples in various categories to inspire you to revitalize your resume.  Important social work skills for the workplace What are social work skills? Social skills, otherwise known as interpersonal skills, are essential in helping us communicate with one another in the workplace. These skills allow us to build relationships, interact, and communicate with those around us in a meaningful and effective way. This includes verbal and nonverbal cues.  Social work skills are essential in every job. Whether you work on a team, are in a client-facing role, or are an individual contributor reporting to a direct manager, solid social skills will help you succeed in your position.  Let’s take a look at some of the most important social work skills for the workplace:  1. Empathy One of the best ways to interact well with others is to put yourself in their shoes and understand how they feel. Empathetic people can understand how others are feeling and can identify with those feelings in some way.  Having empathy is a vital trait, especially for those who hold leadership positions. Being empathetic isn’t something you can force, and it doesn’t happen overnight if it doesn’t come naturally to you. This skill takes a conscious effort to build and will help you forge and maintain stronger workplace relationships. 2. Active listening Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation with a colleague and felt like they weren’t paying attention to a single word you were saying? Or have you ever been chatting with a coworker and felt like they heard you and gave you their utmost attention? The latter is known as active listening.  Active listening involves giving someone your full, undivided attention and it allows you to build trust and strong relationships with your colleagues and clients. Active listening requires practice, but it is a skill that can be acquired with proper training and effort. 3. Emotional intelligence At a high level, emotional intelligence refers to recognizing and being aware of the emotions of both yourself and other people. Those with high emotional intelligence are known for being self-aware and can practice self-regulation, particularly in stressful and potentially overwhelming situations at work. Emotional intelligence is critical in the workplace because it contributes to strong, long-term relationships and can help you manage and appropriately tailor your reactions.  4. Conflict resolution According to recent research, 65% of workers experienced conflict with another coworker. Conflict is inevitable in the workplace, which means developing a solid set of conflict resolution skills can help you manage and navigate these situations efficiently.  Conflict resolution is the ability to address the root cause of disagreements and devise a solution that works for all parties involved. You can use various techniques to help resolve conflicts, so it’s essential to learn and understand how to address different disputes. 5. Written communication Social skills refer to how we communicate with one another, which means written skills are a must. Some forms of written communication include emails, instant messages, documents, reports, slide decks, and your resume. Using appropriate grammar, proper spelling, and following formatting guidelines will allow you to communicate effectively with others. 6. Nonverbal communication When it comes to communication, it’s easy to think about what we are saying, but we don’t always focus on how we are saying it. Nonverbal skills can dramatically impact the way your message is received.  Your body language, eye contact, facial expressions, and tone can completely change the message you are trying to deliver to your coworkers. It’s important to be aware of these subtle cues so that you can make sure your message isn’t misconstrued or misinterpreted.  Work-related skills for virtual environments You might not be working with your colleagues side-by-side in the same office. In addition to the skills we discussed above, remote work requires some different skills and disciplines.  Below are a few competencies that you’ll definitely want to have when collaborating in virtual work environments:  Self-motivation: There’s a big difference between in-person office environments and virtual workplace settings. At the office, your manager can simply stop by your desk or quickly check in to see how things are going. While your supervisor can technically do the same via email or instant message, you ultimately don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder 24/7 at your home office (unless you have pets, children, or spouses nearby!). That means self-motivation and knowing how to hold yourself accountable to get your work done are vital to helping you thrive in a virtual role. Adaptability: Adaptability is beneficial in any setting, but it’s a particularly beneficial skill in virtual environments. Whether you’re working with a distributed team and constantly trying to navigate time zones or your presentation gets interrupted due to an unreliable internet connection, adaptability is an important skill to help you navigate the unexpected and ever-changing conditions you may find yourself running up against. Digital and technical knowledge: In virtual environments, employees work remotely and generally rely on several tools to collaborate and tackle their to-do lists. Between project management software, instant messaging, video conferencing, document sharing, and email, there are many different technologies to navigate daily. If you’re working in a virtual environment, it’s essential to feel comfortable using these platforms if you want to keep up with the pace of your work. It’s also worth mentioning that, while you still may be able to reach the IT help desk, you may not receive assistance as quickly as you would in an office setting. That means you might have to do some troubleshooting and problem-solving on your own. What teamwork skills are important for 2021? Teamwork makes the dream work, right?  Teamwork skills are a subset of skills that enable us to work well with groups of people (meaning, our teams) to achieve a shared goal or outcome. In 2021 and beyond, as we see a shift toward hybrid work models, honing in on your teamwork skills can help you land your dream gig. Here are the teamwork skills that are important to develop for 2021 and beyond: 1. Reliability Being reliable is arguably the most crucial teamwork skill. Those who are reliable can be depended on and trusted to do their part time and time again. They show a certain level of commitment to their work and colleagues, meet deadlines (or even get work in early), and follow through on any action or task they say they will do.  You want to be a reliable teammate so your colleagues and your employer will have faith in you. And the more trustworthy you are, the more responsibility you will be trusted with over time, which may boost your career growth in the long run. It’s even more important to showcase your reliability in a virtual workplace environment through clear and frequent communication. 2. Accountability Accountability goes hand-in-hand with reliability. But beyond being reliable, accountability is all about taking responsibility for one’s work — even when that includes mistakes or failures.  There’s no room for the blame game or pointing fingers on teams that work well with one another, which means you have to hold yourself accountable and take fault when necessary. Your teammates will likely think more of you if you’re willing to admit you’re wrong, as opposed to constantly shifting blame or pointing fingers when issues arise. 3. Respectfulness A little bit of respect goes a long way, especially at work. According to Indeed, respectfulness in the workplace reduces stress, increases productivity and collaboration, improves employee satisfaction, and creates a fair environment. You need to respect your team members, manager, and clients to do your best work together.  Acts of respect include acknowledging others and calling them by name, encouraging and exchanging opinions and ideas without judgment, giving credit where it’s due, and listening to and understanding your teammates. 4. Collaboration There is no successful teamwork without collaboration. Collaboration is working together with one or more people on a project or toward a shared goal.  When employees can work together and collaborate successfully, they can share ideas and come up with practical solutions to complex problems. Brainstorming, open discussions, workshops, and knowledge sharing sessions are all examples of collaboration that lead to great teamwork.  5. Persuasion Have you ever worked with a teammate who insists on working their way, even if the rest of the team agrees to pursue another route? How do you keep making progress on your project or goal if one team member isn’t on the same page? That’s where your skills of persuasion come in handy.  Sometimes you might have to persuade a team member to see another point of view and change their mind to benefit the rest of the group. But persuasive skills are more than just getting someone to change their mind and see your perspective — it’s about doing so in an empathetic and respectful way in order to maintain a healthy working relationship. 6. Constructive feedback for improvement You should be able to offer your teammate constructive feedback to help them improve and vice versa. Exchanging feedback not only benefits individuals and the team as a whole but also adds value to your organization by creating an opportunity for constant growth.  Giving feedback requires offering suggestions for improvement in a positive way, while receiving feedback requires listening with an open mind and a willingness to change.  Work skills that work on any resume Sure, there are specialized skills for different roles and industries. Engineers add their programming skills to their resume, project managers add project management certifications and relevant skills, and HR professionals add the performance management and HRIS systems they’ve previously used. While there are specialized skills you’ll want to emphasize on your resume based on your industry and role (and trust us, those are important), there are also some work skills that are relevant on any resume. These include:  Creativity: Creativity is an essential component of innovation and complex problem-solving. In its most basic form, creativity requires thinking about a problem or task differently and using your imagination to form and test new ideas. Problem-solving: All employers value problem-solving abilities because they want to hire people who can break down problems and develop effective solutions. To showcase your problem-solving skills, you might possess a range of qualities such as analysis, evaluation, decision-making, and communication. Time management: No employer wants to hire someone who doesn’t make good use of their time and will have a hard time getting their work done. Your future employer wants to know that you’ll be able to meet deadlines, effectively use your workday to get tasks accomplished, and handle your workload without a lot of babysitting. Examples of specific time management responsibilities include goal setting, prioritizing tasks, meeting deadlines, and minimizing or eliminating distractions for optimal focus. Leadership: Showcasing how you’ve demonstrated leadership in your previous roles can demonstrate to your future potential employer what type of employee you are. Being an effective leader can increase your advancement opportunities within your organization. Use specific examples of successful leadership on your resume for the most significant impact.  So how do you showcase these skills on your resume? Now that you know what work skills for resumes employers want to see, you’re bound to have this question: Where do you put them? Keep in mind that the goal of your resume is to prove that you’re a qualified, no-brainer fit for the role you’re applying for. That’s why your smartest move is to tailor your resume to a specific job. Take a fine-tooth comb to the job description and identify words or skills that are repeated or emphasized. Those are traits that you should be incorporating in your own resume (provided you honestly possess them, of course). The most important skills should go as close to the top of your document as possible, because remember, hiring managers are only skimming for a few seconds. As for where you can work these skills in, you have a number of options, including:  Your professional summary at the top of your document A dedicated key skills section where you can bullet out your most relevant abilities Your past positions, where you can demonstrate how you applied your skills in previous jobs Finally, remember that many of your work skills and social work skills — from communication and time management to problem-solving and active listening — will be on display throughout the hiring process and your interviews.  So, it should go without saying, but show up on time, respond to messages promptly and respectfully, and treat everybody respectfully. After all, when it comes to your work skills, employers want you to show — and not just tell.

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Operational Plan: Everything You Need To Know (2024 Guide)

Download our free Operational Strategy Template Download this template

The old way of planning no longer works in complex and unpredictable business environments, and companies are struggling to find their feet on shaky ground. As we’ve seen with many of our customers and strategies in Cascade, organizations can no longer count on executing three or even five-year strategic plans.

The new reality forces companies and their operations teams to adapt their operational plans more frequently and within shorter time frames if they want to reap benefits faster than their competitors. Organizations need to work on their strategic instinct and fast adaptability .  

And that requires big changes—including building a flexible operational plan, supported by the right tools and systems that help you achieve real-time centralized observability and empower a strategic response to external disruptions.

Read this article to build a bulletproof operational plan that includes all the key elements necessary to overcome unpredictable business chaos. You’ll also get free templates that will help you rapidly adapt and align your teams.

✨Bonus: We’ve included pro tips from business leaders in our network to help you identify gaps in your strategy execution and build resilient business operations.

Free Template Download our free Operational Strategy Template Download this template

What Is An Operational Plan?

An operational plan is action and detail-oriented; it needs to focus on short-term strategy execution and outline an organization's day-to-day operations. If your operations strategy is a promise, your operational plan is the action plan for how you will deliver on it every day, week, and month.

Put simply, an operational plan helps you bridge the gap between business strategy and on-the-ground execution and ensures that the organization is on track to achieve its long-term goals.

Benefits of operational planning

  • Clear definition of relationships between cross-functional teams in different departments and responsibilities for each to eliminate duplicated efforts.
  • Tighter alignment between corporate or business unit strategic plans and on-the-ground execution, helping the organization meet its business targets.
  • Strong operating system that enables the company to quickly adapt, deliver operations goals, and monitor performance.

Operational planning vs. strategic planning

Operational planning deals with the day-to-day details and short-term goals, while strategic planning focuses on the big picture and long-term direction of an organization.

To put it in simpler terms, operational planning is about the "how" of daily tasks, while strategic planning defines the "what" and "why" for future success.

📚Recommended reading: Strategic vs. Operational Planning

Kickstart Your Operational Planning Process: Lay The Foundation

The quality of your operational plan will depend on your input. A successful operational planning initiative will consider these aspects:

  • Who will be involved? Identify and include employees, customers, and the management team in the planning process to gain valuable insights from the front lines, ensuring better strategy and execution buy-in.
  • What are your internal capabilities? Assess internal capabilities by conducting an internal analysis , including resource requirements, operating budget, and talent skills. Talent management and employee engagement are just a few of the many challenges that COOs will have on their operations agenda.
  • What environment are you operating in? Conduct an external analysis (e.g., PESTLE or Porter’s 5 Forces ) to inform your approach and identify optimization opportunities and risks, keeping you agile in a changing market.
  • Is it aligned with your organization’s strategy? Ensure alignment of your operational plan with your organization’s strategic plan to actively support the company's long-term vision and contribute to key business metrics.
👉🏻 Once you’ve gathered this information, you can develop an operational plan to help you execute business strategies.

Key Elements Of Your Operational Plan

Enough chit-chat; it’s time to put your operational plan together. We've built this based on our proven and tested approach, used by over +45,000 Cascade users. Here’s a recap of the five key elements your plan must consider:

Choose key metrics aligned with the company goals

Selecting your operational plan's key metrics isn't a mere exercise in tracking numbers; it's about laser-focused alignment with your business needs and objectives. These metrics are the tangible indicators of your organization's efficiency and performance. They serve as the compass, guiding your daily decisions and actions toward achieving concrete results.

By precisely aligning these metrics with your company's core objectives, you ensure that every initiative and action within your operational plan directly contributes to achieving tangible results.

An aligned operational plan makes it easier to:

  • Communicate roles and responsibilities to all employees so they know how their efforts contribute to overall business success.
  • Identify and address operational bottlenecks and inefficiencies that could derail strategy execution.
  • Motivate and engage employees to work toward strategic objectives and deliver on business outcomes.
Remember that the role of operations is to close the gap between your organization's strategic goals and what is being done on a daily basis to make them happen.

👉🏻 How Cascade can help:

With Cascade’s Metrics Library , you can bring your operating and financial business-level goals together with your strategy under one single roof. This makes reporting & governance easy, accurate, and less time-consuming by connecting your business data to your key business initiatives.

cascade metrics library

Through Cascade’s integrations , you can consolidate your metrics in one place, importing your data directly from business systems, data lakes, BI tools, or even spreadsheets.

Define the focus areas of your operational plan

The focus areas of your operational plan are the key areas of the business that the plan will address.

This will depend on your business plan. Think about how the business operates and how it succeeds. Do you need to pursue short-term cost reductions while simultaneously pursuing longer-term growth and transformation initiatives? Your operational plans must be built on these strategic priorities.

For example, you can prioritize your focus areas based on the most relevant business strategies or by specific departments. Some examples of focus areas could be:

  • Administration
  • Human Resources

💡Tips to help define the focus areas of your operational plan:

  • Identify the business's key challenges and opportunities.
  • Consider the business's overall long-term strategy and key metrics and how the operational plan's focus areas can support these objectives.
  • Bring other people on board to help you identify what needs to be addressed by the operations plan.

Create strategic objectives for your operational plan

Strategic objectives are specific goals aligned with the operation’s strategy and focus areas. They represent what you want to achieve in each focus area and will serve as the building blocks of your plan, ensuring that it’s focused and actionable.

Some examples of strategic objectives:

  • Reduce costs by 10% within the next year by implementing more efficient processes and streamlining the supply chain over the next year.
  • Launch three new products in the next fiscal year to expand your product lines and increase revenue.
  • Increase customer satisfaction scores by 5% within the next six months.

💡Tips for defining strategic objectives include:

  • Ensure your objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
  • Consistently align objectives with your operational plan's focus areas and the company's goals.
  • Don’t be afraid to get input from other people about your objectives.

Identify and prioritize projects

It’s time to identify and prioritize the projects that need to be executed. Remember, projects are action plans to help you achieve your strategic objectives.

Project planning should include thinking about time frames, task assignments, and deliverables (and prioritizing).

Here are some examples of project ideas:

  • Localize sourcing for critical semi-finished materials.
  • Streamline the supply chain to reduce costs and improve efficiency.
  • Find and develop an alternative logistics channel.
  • Implement a new customer service training program to improve customer satisfaction scores.
  • Implement a new technology that will enable end-to-end supply chain visibility.

💡Tips for defining and prioritizing projects:

  • Identify the specific actions and activities needed to achieve each strategic objective.
  • Prioritize the projects based on their importance, feasibility, and potential impact on the business.
  • Involve stakeholders in defining and prioritizing the projects to ensure their needs and concerns are heard.

Identify and track key performance indicators (KPIs)

Finally, you’ll need to know if your operational plan and day-to-day activities result in outcomes.

Set KPIs for key initiatives and strategic objectives to measure success, ensure alignment, and identify performance gaps in your operational plan.

Some examples of operations KPIs are:

  • Inventory costs
  • Costs of goods sold
  • Revenue growth
  • Employee retention rate
  • Customer satisfaction score

💡Tips for defining and tracking KPIs:

  • Align KPIs with your strategic objectives and focus areas so that you can track the plan's progress against these specific goals.
  • Add both lagging and leading indicators .
  • Instead of using multiple disconnected spreadsheets and project management tools, consider live dashboards or reporting systems to track the KPIs and monitor progress over time.

👉🏻 How Cascade can help build your plan:

Cascade’s planner feature enables you to build your operational plan with structure and ease by breaking down the complexity from high-level initiatives to executable outcomes. Define your key elements (focus areas, objectives, projects, and KPIs), and share the plan with your teams. You’ll get full visibility of the plan’s progress in real-time, allowing you to identify gaps, quickly update the plan, and communicate the change with your team with a single click.

cascade planner view example

👉🏻 If you don’t want to start building the plan from scratch, use our free Operational Plan Template pre-filled with examples of focus areas, objectives, projects, and KPIs that you can customize to meet your organization’s needs.

Operational Plan Examples & Templates

Here are five operational plan examples to help you create plans for your teams. You can use one master operational plan or set up an operational plan for each department.

Master Operational Plan Example

operational plan free template

This Operational Plan Template will help you close the gap between business goals and day-to-day operations. You'll be able to set goals and KPIs for your top priorities and work with the operations team to deliver operational excellence and business results.

HR Plan Example

This HR Operational Plan Template can be used to meet staffing requirements, manage human capital and align human resources activities with your strategy. HR managers in any industry can create a clear operational plan that can be constantly monitored, adapted, and improved.

IT Plan Example

If you’re in the IT team, try out this IT Plan Template to get your IT operational planning up and running fast. It comes prefilled with focus areas and KPIs relevant to IT operations; you can easily customize workflows and deliverables to your needs.

Marketing Plan Example

This Marketing Plan Template can help you efficiently understand and plan your digital marketing operations using best practices. Use it to quickly set up priorities and get your social media and marketing teams moving on tasks that will make an impact.

Finance Plan Example

This finance-focused template is ideal if you want to get on top of your finance operations plan. Use it to allocate and distribute financial resources across your organization and get real-time updates through your dashboard and reports—which are great tools to create a visually compelling financial summary that clearly shows your key metrics.

💡Pro Tip: To ensure successful execution, it's crucial to align not just your master operational plan with your overarching strategic plan, but also all the operational department plans.

With the Alignment Maps feature, you’ll be able to visualize how your top-level business strategy breaks down into functional and operational plans. This empowers COOs and CFOs to consolidate their operational plans in one place, creating tighter alignment between the finance and operations teams and improving cross-collaboration to build more resilient operations.

alignment map view in cascade

Want to dig deeper? Use the Relationships feature to see the relationships between connected objectives from your plans and understand how your different department goals contribute to the core business metrics and goals. This view will allow you to clearly map dependencies, blockers, and risks that may lie along your journey.

relationships view in cascade

5 Tips For An Effective Operational Plan And Its Execution

1. don’t underestimate the power of transparent communication.

Regularly communicate the operational plan and progress to all relevant stakeholders to build the necessary buy-in and support. Your employees must know your goals and the roadmap, and team members should understand their role in its execution. This business transparency will help everyone row in the same direction.

“Clarity regarding strategy is one of the key drivers of autonomous execution. If people understand what you’re working toward and have guardrails in place, they can be empowered to make their own decisions and don’t need everything to be ‘run up the chain’ to get approved. This allows you to move fast and at scale.” — Sam Sterling , Chief Strategy Officer, Akqa

2. Keep moving forward and adopt a growth mindset

Keep the momentum going and ensure that the plan is executed effectively. Regular monitoring and reviews can help identify and address any challenges or obstacles that may arise.

Schedule regular reviews and check-ins and provide the necessary support to ensure projects are on track and moving forward.

“I think adopting a growth mindset is super important. This means having the confidence to fail fast, try something new and empower people to do that.” — Ken Miller , General Manager, Azure Intelligent Cloud at Microsoft

With the Team Updates functionality, every team member can post updates on key measures, actions, and objectives. This will give you real-time visibility into performance and help you identify possible risks before it’s too late—without having to schedule extra meetings or nag your team members for updates.

3. Make strategic moves and change fast when you need to

Your operational plan should be flexible, adaptable, and open to adjustments. This means keeping an eye on progress, making corrections if needed, and being willing to adapt the plan to changing circumstances or new opportunities. As McKinsey suggests, you can consider creating a team that will be able to collect data, link analysis with action, and offer quick responses to rapid changes.

“Traditionally, companies would have taken that piece of paper and gone out and said: we're going to execute it, start to finish. Then get into the formulation of the strategy, what we need to hit, and what the end product result will be like. But what we do know is that’s never the case. Along the way, you're going to have bumps, and inevitably, you’ll need to change from that original picture.” — Annie Lucchitti , Marketing Manager, Unilever

4. Empower your operations team and boost efficiency

Effective operational planning requires the engagement and empowerment of your team. Involve stakeholders in the planning process and provide them with the necessary resources. Give them context and an opportunity to set goals and prioritize initiatives. This will help you boost engagement and hold them accountable for progress.

“I think it just works at every single level. Are people allowed to be themselves at work? Personally, are they at peace? Are they happy? Productivity happens when people have the right skills, but also when they are engaged and happy. If one of those fails a bit, productivity will start decreasing.” — Joan Torrents , Global Sourcing Manager, TESCO.

5. If it isn’t measured, it isn’t managed

Don’t underestimate the importance of tracking and measuring progress against the operational plan's goals and objectives. Set milestones, enforce KPIs, and stay on top of progress. Doing this will help you stay on course, empower you to act quickly, and provide valuable insights into what is going wrong.

“Data is a foundational element in the strategy definition phase as well as in the strategy execution phase as it helps create a baseline, identify key priorities, set goals, and measure progress.” — Erica Santoni , Principal, Diversity Equity & Inclusion, Intuit

Use Cascade’s Dashboards to monitor your day-to-day progress on key metrics and critical business and strategic information in real-time.

example of an operations strategy dashboard in cascade

Compile the information in powerful reports and executive summaries in seconds with pre-built templates. Share them with your key stakeholders —internal and external— and invite them to collaborate on your strategy together.

Execute Your Operational Plan With Cascade 🚀

What good is an operational plan if no one executes it? If your organization wants to operate at a higher level, static tools like Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoints, Google Docs, and/or project management tools aren’t the solution.

❌They aren’t designed for adaptive strategy and planning.

❌They often lead to siloing and hinder effective cross-collaboration.

❌They make it challenging to measure progress and slow down decision-making.

With Cascade as your central operating system, you can stop running business operations blindfolded and embrace rapid, coordinated, and data-driven decision-making.

Get your Operational Plan Template to get started with a dynamic plan that will lead to actual outcomes for your business and see faster results from your strategy.

Or take Cascade for a spin! Start today for free or book a 1:1 product tour with Cascade’s in-house strategy expert.

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Learn how to do operational planning the right way

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Some of this planning will be developed yearly—things like your yearly objectives and key results, for example, will naturally grow as time goes on. But to make sure you’re staying on track and executing against your long-term goals, you need an operational plan. 

What is operational planning?

Operational planning is the process of turning your strategic plan into a detailed map that outlines exactly what action your team will take on a weekly, or sometimes even daily, basis. An operational plan will include action items and milestones that each team or department needs to complete in order to execute your strategic plan. 

During the operational planning process, outline each team or person’s responsibilities for the next quarter, six months, or fiscal year. The level of detail and timeline you select for your operational plan should depend on how quickly your organization typically moves—if you’re a fast-paced team with an accelerated roadmap, consider creating an operational plan for the next quarter or half year. But if your organization tends to think more long-term, create an operational plan for the entire fiscal year.

Operational planning vs. strategic planning

A strategic plan is a business-level plan of your long-term strategy for the next three to five years. An operational plan is smaller in both scope and timeline. The goal of operational planning is to outline the daily actions you need to take to hit your strategic goals. 

Unlike a strategic plan, an operational plan should also focus on implementation . What daily and weekly actions does your team need to take in order to accomplish your longer-term strategic plan? What specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) do you need to track on a regular basis in order to ensure that your team is progressing towards your objectives? These details should be captured in your operational plan.

Who should create an operational plan?

To capture exactly who is doing what by when, an operational plan needs to be very detailed. For this reason, create an operational plan at a smaller scale than your strategic plan—both in terms of timeline and scope. Instead of trying to create an operational plan for your entire company, create one at the department or team level. At a larger company, you could even create an operational plan for a specific initiative—similar to a detailed work plan .

For example, create an operational plan to explain the daily tasks your IT department needs to do in order to support the company. Your IT department’s operational plan might include how frequently IT team members will check the IT requests project inbox , budgeting details for the program, how the IT team will onboard and equip new employees, and how frequently the team will meet. 

There are three levels to who should create an operational plan:

Scope: Your operational plan will capture the who, what, and when of each activity. It should be laser-focused on a team or initiative.

Timeline: Depending on how fast your organization moves, your operational plan should span a quarter, six months, or a fiscal year. 

Stakeholders: Make sure the people involved in operational planning are close to the work, so they can accurately project and predict what work should be included in the plan.

The benefits of operational planning

A strategic plan is a great way to proactively align your team around a shared purpose. By defining long-term goals, you can outline exactly where you want to go.

An operational plan helps you hit your strategic goals. According to our research, only 26% of knowledge workers have a very clear understanding of how their individual work relates to company goals. By creating a detail-oriented operational plan, you can define exactly what short-term goals you need to achieve in order to be on track towards your long-term objectives. It can help you think through the actions you’re currently taking or need to take in order to execute against your goals. 

In particular, an operational plan:

Clarifies exactly what your team will be doing on a weekly and daily basis.

Provides a comprehensive guide of the day-to-day operations your team members need to take in order to accomplish your long-term goals.

Sets a benchmark for daily expectations, so you can avoid getting off track.

5 steps to making an operational plan

During the operational planning process, you're not creating new plans or developing new goals. Rather, to create an operational plan, assess everything your team is currently working on and everything you need to do on a daily or weekly basis to hit your strategic goals. Here’s how:

1. Start with a strategic plan

If you haven’t already, create a strategic plan first. You need a long-term vision and goals before you can break down the day-to-day details. There are four steps to creating a strategic plan:

Determine your position

Develop your strategy

Build your strategic plan

Share, monitor, and manage your strategic plan

To learn more, read our article on strategic planning .

2. Narrow down your scope

In order to create a detail-oriented operational plan, you need to narrow the scope to a team, department, or focus area. The scope of your operational plan will depend on the size of your company.

For example, imagine you’re breaking down your strategic plan into action plans for various company departments. Your marketing team spans multiple functions—for example, design, product marketing, social media, content creation, and web promotion. To capture specific, daily functions within each team, you should create an operational action plan for each smaller team. 

3. Identify key stakeholders

Before creating an operational plan, decide who will be involved in the operational planning process. The team members creating the operational plan should be relatively close to the actions the plan describes. 

To continue our example, the design team’s operational plan should be created by the head of the design team and the team leads (depending on the size of the team). Once they’ve created their operational plan, the team should share the plan with the head of marketing for final approval.

4. Create the plan

Your operational plan explains the actions your team will take to achieve your goals within a set time frame. To create an operational plan, outline:

Your team’s objectives

The deliverables that will be achieved by the operational plan

Any desired outcomes or quality standards

Staffing and resource requirements, including your operating budget

How you will monitor and report on progress

If you’re struggling to figure out all the details that should be included in your operational plan, ask yourself the following questions: 

What do we need to accomplish? This information should come from your strategic plan or yearly goals.

What daily tasks do we need to complete in order to hit our goals? These can be daily tasks you’re currently doing or new work that needs to be kicked off.

Who are the people responsible for those tasks? Make sure each task has one owner so there’s no confusion about who to go to for questions or updates.

What are our metrics for success? If you haven’t already, make sure your goals follow the SMART framework . 

To continue our example, here’s the framework the design team might use to create their operational plan:

Part of the strategic plan for the marketing team is to increase share of voice in the market—which means more eyes on marketing materials and increased engagement with potential customers. To support these goals, the design team will: 

Create additional promotional materials for the social team

Revamp the website home page to attract more potential customers

To accomplish these two goals in the next year, the design team will:

Hire two new team members to focus on social media engagement

Partner with the web development team within the marketing department to create an interactive home page

To track and report on their progress, the design team will use Asana as their central source of truth for key performance metrics, including:

What designs they are creating

The level of engagement they’re getting on social media

The progress of the website update

This is just the framework the design team would use to create their operational plan. Bring this plan to life within a work management tool like Asana to share clarity on all of the work the team needs to do to hit their goals. With work management, every task can be tracked in real-time from inception to completion.

5. Share and update your operational plan

Once you’ve created the plan, share it with key stakeholders so they understand your team’s most important goals and the daily tasks it will take to get there. Manage your plan and updates in a shared tool that captures real-time progress, like Asana .

Like any element of project planning, things will inevitably change. Actively monitor your operational plan and report on progress so key stakeholders and team members can stay updated on how you’re tracking against your goals. Report on progress monthly through written status updates . 

Get started with operational planning

An operational plan can help you ensure you’re making progress on long-term goals. But in order for this plan to be effective, make sure you’re tracking your work in a centrally-accessible tool. Siloed information and goals don’t help anyone—instead, track your action items and goals in a work management tool.

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></center></p><h2>Operational Planning: Types, Steps & Advantages Explained</h2><p>Operational planning is a documented plan that outlines the goals and key objectives of an organization, and how they can be achieved. It ensures that team members understand their responsibilities as well as what they need to do.</p><h2>Table of Contents</h2><p><center><img style=

Overview: Operational Planning

A company needs a strategy plan, but that’s not enough. To ensure that your organization’s larger goals are achievable, you need an operational plan to manage the day-to-day tasks.

Operational plans do not have to be reserved for large companies. Individuals and small  businesses  can also benefit with operational planning.

This article will explain, what is operational planning is and how to make one without feeling overwhelmed.

What is an Operational Plan?

The operational plan guides and helps the teams to stay on the required project timeline and to make crucial decisions about the company’s long-term goals.

Who should develop an Operational Plan?

An operational plan is necessary to capture who is doing what and when. An operational plan should be smaller than your  strategic plan  in terms of scope and timeline. 

Instead of creating an operational plan for the entire company, you can create one for each department or team. You could create an operational plan for one initiative in a larger company. This is similar to a detailed plan.

To illustrate, you might create an operational plan that outlines the daily tasks your IT department must perform to support the company. 

The operational plan for your IT department might include details such as how often IT team members will check the IT request project inbox and budget details. It also may detail how IT team members will onboard new employees and how they will equip them.

An operational plan should be created at three levels:

  • Scope:- Your operational plan will detail the who, what, and when for each activity. This plan should be focused on one team or initiative.
  • Timeline:-  Depending on the speed of your organization’s movements, your operational plan should be spread over a quarter, six months, or a full fiscal year.
  • The stakeholder:-  Make sure that the people involved with operational planning are near the work so they can accurately project the work and predict the work to be included in it.

Types of Operational Planning

There are basically two types of operational plans: Standing or single-use.

  • A single-use plan  is operational planning that relates to one project. It is discarded after the project is completed. This is useful if the project doesn’t align with another project or won’t be used again in the future. It can be customized to suit each project.
  • A standing program  is operational planning that’s repeated. This plan is used by a department for tasks or projects that arise frequently. These plans will save you the hassle of having to reinvent the wheel every time. However, you will lose some flexibility.

5 Steps For Operational Planning

You are not expected to create new plans or set new goals during the operational planning process. To create an operational plan, you should assess the work of your team and what you need to do daily or weekly to reach your strategic goals.  Here’s how:

1. Get started with a strategy plan

Create a strategic plan if you don’t have one. Before you can begin to break down the details, you need a long-term vision.

A strategic plan can be created in four steps:

  • Identify your position
  • Develop your strategy
  • Your strategic plan should be created
  • Manage, share, and monitor your strategic plan

2. Reduce your scope

To create an operational plan that is detailed-oriented, it is important to limit the scope of your project to a specific team, department, or focus area. Your company’s size will determine the scope of your operational plans.

Imagine, for example , that you are breaking down your strategic plans into action plans for different company departments. 

Marketing teams can include design, product marketing, and social media. You should develop an operational plan for each of the smaller teams to capture daily functions.

3. Identify key stakeholders

Before you create an operational plan, determine who will be involved in it. The members of the team responsible for creating the operational plan should have a good understanding of the actions described in the plan.

Depending on the size of your team, the head of the design group and the team leaders should create the operational plan for the design team. After creating their operational plan, they should share it with the head of marketing to finalize approval.

Your operational plan describes the actions that your team will take to reach your goals within a given timeframe. 

You can outline an operational plan here:

  • The goals of your team
  • The deliverables will be realized by the operational plan
  • Any desired outcome or quality standards
  • Your operating budget, as well as your staffing and resource needs
  • How to monitor progress and make reports

These are the questions to ask yourself if you have difficulty figuring out the details of your operational plan.

  • What are we supposed to do? This information should be derived from your strategic plan or yearly goals.
  • What are the daily tasks we must complete to reach our goals? These could be your daily tasks or new work you need to do.
  • Who is responsible for these tasks? Each task should have a single owner to ensure that there is no confusion as to who to contact for updates or questions.
  • What are the metrics that will help us achieve our goals? If you don’t have SMART, create it.

5. Update and share your operational plan

Once you have created your plan, share it with  key stakeholders  to make sure they know the team’s main goals and the daily tasks required to achieve them. You can manage your plan and update it on a shared platform that tracks real-time progress.

Things will change, just like any other element of project planning. You must monitor the progress of your operational plan, and provide updates to key stakeholders and team members about how you are tracking towards your goals. Written status updates provide a monthly progress report.

What are the things should be included in Operational Planning?

The things should be included in Operational planning are:

Operational Budget: An operational budget is a forecast of projected running expenditures and income for a specific time period. The operational budget, like other types of budgets, outlines the amount of money available to buy raw materials, equipment, or anything else required for corporate operations. It is critical to keep your expenditure under your operating budget; otherwise, your firm will run out of resources to carry out its routine operations.

Operational Objectives: It is critical to link your operational goals with your strategic goals. For example, if one of your strategic goals is to boost sales by 25% over the next three years, one alternative operational goal is to hire more salespeople. Always take your strategic plan objectives and transform them into one or more action items.

Operational Timeline:  It is critical to create a timetable for your operating plan. Most of the time, your operational plan will be the same length as your strategic plan, but in other circumstances, you may need to produce numerous operational plans for different goals. Because not all operational plans are created equal, the length of your operational timetable will be determined by the length of your projects, workflows, and procedures.

Quality Assurance and Control:  Most businesses have quality assurance and control methods in place for a number of reasons, including consumer safety and regulatory compliance. Furthermore, quality assurance concerns may cost your company millions of dollars, thus creating quality management practices is an important stage in operational planning.

Executive Summary:  An executive summary is a short document that highlights the content of longer papers such as business plans, strategic plans, or operational plans. Their primary goal is to offer a short summary for time-pressed stakeholders.

Key Performance Indicators:  Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor the productivity of your business operations is critical. You may create as many KPIs as you need for each of your business operations. You may, for example, set KPIs for marketing, sales, product development, and other critical departments in your organization. Product launch dates, the number of manufactured items, the number of customer care cases closed, the number of 5-star reviews received, the number of clients acquired, revenue increased by a specific percentage, and so on are examples of this.

Advantages of Operational Planning

Clarifies your organizational goals

Managers and department heads can use an operational plan to define their daily tasks, activities, and responsibilities.

This also shows how each team member contributes to the overall goals of the company or department. Managers and employees cannot measure the success of their daily tasks against predetermined outcomes if they don’t have a plan.

Team productivity is increased

Businesses are always on the lookout for ways to improve productivity. This in turn leads to higher profits. An operational plan is one of the most influential and simple ways to increase efficiency.

Employees who know their daily responsibilities and objectives are more productive. If they aren’t clear on what is expected of them, their productivity could suffer.

This vital information is provided to employees across the company and in every department by an operational plan.

Boost your organization’s profitability

A plan can help keep teams and projects on track.  Teams can increase their revenue and create new products when they are well managed.  Innovation pays off. According to a BCG survey, 60% of innovation-focused companies report steady increases in revenues year after year. Teams can innovate faster and better when they have an operating plan.

Increases Competitive Advantage Components and multiple levels are combined to get competitive advantages.

Your workflows will run more smoothly if you coordinate the various parts using an operational plan. This will allow you to deliver high-quality deliverables on time, providing a great customer experience and helping you stay ahead of your competitors.

Operational Planning Disadvantages

Human error possible

Human error is a problem in manufacturing. It can happen when a product goes from production to sales.

Operations management teams must coordinate with cross-functional teams like finance, engineering, and  Human Resources . Each team will be able to clearly understand the department’s end goals.

Interdependency amongst parts

Implementing an operations planning process can be a problem because it depends on the coordination between parts.

One component failing can cause a plan to fail, which can have a negative impact on the next. One process disruption can lead to a breakdown in the whole process and render the operational plan useless.

Operational planning vs. Strategic planning

Although they are related, these planning strategies have a different focus.

Operational planning refers to the daily work involved in executing your strategy. This ensures that you have the right resources and people to do your work efficiently.

Strategic planning, on the other hand, is about planning for the future and identifying the pipelines that will be needed.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor estimates that nearly 7 million Americans are self-employed, while another 10 million are employed by small businesses.

Chances are that your company has a form of strategic planning if you work for a large corporation. If you are one of the millions working remotely, however, success will depend on your operational planning.

Read More:   Operational planning vs. Strategic planning

An operational plan isn’t rocket science. But you have to do the work. An operational plan that is well-designed will include detailed information about manpower, resources, and the steps to be taken.

Although it may seem like a lot of work, the result will be worth it when your department completes a highly-rated project on schedule and within budget.

However, to get the help in managing/creating your operation plan, we are OnDemand International , here we are to help you out in each & every step of yours.

Once the company’s goal is established, the team will create a strategic plan that includes three components: sales, marketing, and operations.

A solid plan is essential for any operation. There are five main components that you should focus on: Preparation (marketing), logistics, human resources (HR), financial limits, and preparation.

The most common difference between the two types are ongoing and single-use plans

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Create an Operational Plan that Makes an Impact

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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.

Operational Goals

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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The Alternative Board Blog

What an operating plan is and why you absolutely need one.

operational plan easy definition

Most companies spend valuable time and resources to create strategic plans, giving their best to outline a strategy that establishes a solid long-term vision. While having a strategic plan is necessary, a vast number of organizations often lack a critical strategy element: an operating plan.

An operational business plan outlines the details of your daily operations for over one year. It defines who does what, when they do it, and how they do it. When done well, an operation plan defines how you allocate human, physical, and financial resources to reach short-term objectives that support your larger business goals.

What Is An Operational Plan And Why Is It Important?

An operation plan is an extremely detail-oriented plan that clearly defines how a team or department contributes to reaching company goals. It outlines the daily tasks required for running a business. When properly created, an operating plan makes sure each manager and each employee know their specific obligations, as well as how they should execute them within a defined timeline. Mapping out the day-to-day tasks that ensure a clear path to your business and operational goals is essential to success.

On a daily basis, your operations plan should answer these crucial questions:

  • What are the strategies and tasks that need to be completed or achieved?
  • Who are the individuals responsible for those tasks and strategies?
  • When must each strategy be completed?
  • How much will it cost?

Your strategic plan is a manual that ensures your company and all its employees execute day-to-day operations in a way that ensures reaching your long-term business goals.

Operational Planning VS Strategic Planning

Very often, a strategic business plan also functions as an operating plan. The confusing of the two can cause problems because both plans are necessary for any company to achieve its goals.

A strategic plan helps your business outline long-term goals and fulfill the big vision. Operating plans define what processes need to be finished to achieve those goals. An operating plan supports the efforts of a strategic plan and makes sure everyone runs their day-to-day tasks as efficiently as possible. Both are action plans, and since the success of the strategic plan heavily depends on the efficiency of the operating plan, you should create it right after outlining your long-term strategy.

A successful company never chooses between an operational plan and a strategic plan. Instead, market leaders make sure they have both. Simply put, a strategic plan outlines your long-term goals for the future, while an operating plan defines how to get there through daily activities and processes.

The goal of an operating plan is to define how all departments join efforts to achieve your vision.

The Steps Of A Successful Operational Business Plan

You can't create a successful operational plan without clearly defining your operational goals. The template below walks you through several important steps to take if you want to develop a functional operating plan:

  • Create your strategic plan first. An operating plan is a necessary tool for achieving the goals you've defined in a strategy, so first, you should make sure your strategic plan is in place.
  • Focus on essential goals. All successful operating plan examples stick to one rule—focus on goals that matter the most. A complex plan with multiple unclear goals is hard to follow.
  • Instead of lagging, use leading indicators. Lagging indicators will show your efforts are falling short only after you already execute the operations. By contrast, leading indicators include predictive measures that will prevent you from making a mistake in the first place.
  • Choose the right KPIs. Defining the appropriate KPIs for your business is essential. You shouldn't develop them all by yourself. Instead, involve the whole team in the process.
  • Communication is key. Everyone in the company should learn and understand what metrics you use, why they are important, and what everyone's roles are in working toward your goals.

Note, you can always check out our blog for more successful business tips like this!

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Operational Planning Examples

An operational plan template should help you define and improve the day-to-day actions and processes of your business. Any successful operational plan example indicates that the plans include everything your company does daily to deliver your products or services to customers. They may cover any section, department, and operation. You can find numerous examples of successful operational plan implementation, especially among powerful enterprises.

Let's go over the most common ways of utilizing a proper operational plan:

Planning for Processes and Practices

Businesses often create operational plans for specific processes and practices to ensure they’re meeting objectives in what they deem the important areas. These include efficiency, turnaround time, productivity, cost reduction, waste reduction, sustainability, quality, and customer satisfaction. You can find a successful operating plan example in any department.

Planning As a Strategy Component

Take a look at this operational planning example: let's say a company makes strategic efforts to expand volume production by 50% by the end of the year. The strategic plan will include several critical components: marketing, sales, and operations. The operations part of the plan will include manufacturing, financial, and logistic strategies to achieve a boost in production.

Bottom Line

An operational plan is the key element of every goal-oriented organization. Contact The Alternative Board today to schedule a meeting with our team of business advisory services specialists. We will help you produce an effective operations plan that will help you fulfill your long-term business goals.

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operational plan easy definition

operational plan easy definition

Operational Planning: Meaning, Examples And Benefits

Adil holds a managerial position at an organization that manufactures railway wagons and is looking to increase production and revenue…

Operational Planning Meaning

Adil holds a managerial position at an organization that manufactures railway wagons and is looking to increase production and revenue by 50% over the next five years. Adil and his team are tasked with creating a plan that includes marketing, sales and operations goals. He understands that the operations section of the plan will involve several components, including manufacturing, procurement, warehousing and transportation.

Adil has a clear strategy for the operational planning segment. He entrusts Shalini with opening up two more production lines at the company’s Chennai facility to increase production. He puts Harsh on building a new factory at Ranipet, Tamil Nadu, with a total capacity of making 50 passenger cars every month to support production increases over the next five years. Saba is given the responsibility of diversifying the supply chain to ensure all materials are procured from no less than three vendors. Roshan is tasked with increasing warehouse space to accommodate supplies and product output from the new production lines. Finally, Heena is entrusted with expanding transportation partnerships to fulfill the goal of increasing shipping volumes.

Owing to Adil’s meticulous operational planning and his team’s efficient execution, the firm is able to increase its production and revenue according to its goals significantly.

What Is Operational Planning?

Examples of operational planning in management, benefits of operational planning.

Before we delve any deeper into the subject, it’s important to understand the meaning of operational planning and what it involves.  Operational planning is a method a department or team uses to take the company’s strategic plan and turn it into a detailed map broken up into various components. This map, called the operational plan, documents the team’s exact steps within specified time periods to reach each goal. Such a plan is made with a focus on the future to outline budget allocations, departmental activities and targets for the next year to three years. The operational planning meaning becomes clearer when we understand that the operations segment is but one component of a larger strategic plan. Adil was well aware of this as he has years’ worth of experience in operational planning in management .

In operational planning , it’s essential to record each team member’s responsibilities for the fiscal year in detail. How detailed the plan is will depend upon the projected timeline for goal completion and how fast the team works. For businesses that need to hit their targets quickly, the plan should be designed for a six-month timeline. For long-term goals, operational planning should be done for the whole fiscal year.

Now that we’ve covered the meaning of operational planning , let’s look at some examples of operational planning in management and what they entail.

Organizations can’t function without operations. Let’s explore some examples of operational planning which many companies are incorporating into their business models.

Production Planning

This type of operational planning in management is geared towards mapping a business’s output. Here the focus is primarily on using labor and capital intelligently to make products that can be sold profitably. Take, for instance, a frozen yogurt manufacturer that creates 10 different flavors within just one facility. Operational planning here will involve organizing supplies and streamlining production lines, work shifts and warehouse space to maintain manageable overhead costs.

Capability Planning

Operational planning is required to identify the purpose of a business and then create a roadmap for building on its capabilities. For example, a private taxi company evaluating its own business capabilities will devise a plan to maintain its fleet better and upgrade operations to enhance the safety of women passengers.

Sales Planning

Operational planning is crucial for matching sales targets with production capabilities. For instance, if a makeup brand wants to run a promotional campaign that could grow sales by 150%, only tight operational planning will be able to determine whether the company’s factories can boost production to such a degree.

Going over a few key examples of operational planning in management would be helpful to examine how the process actually helps. Let’s look at a few benefits of operational planning .

Without operational planning in management , businesses would run inefficiently and incur losses. Planned operations are a company’s lifeblood. Here are some key benefits of operational planning .

Provides Clarity

Among other things, operational planning ensures everyone on the team has a clear idea about the work to be done on a monthly, weekly and even daily basis. This helps maintain focus and increase efficiency.

Provides A Roadmap

Achieving long-term goals becomes much easier with operational planning . Productivity increases when team members have a detailed plan to follow; this also helps maintain accountability.

Reduces Delay

With a clearly charted-out path, employees know how much ground they have to cover by the end of each day. This helps them manage their time better and stay on schedule, thereby producing quality and timely work.

Good operational planning benefits organizations greatly. Harappa’s Rise In An Organization program is designed to help ambitious professionals become ace planners of operations. Under the guidance of a stellar faculty that takes you through 17 in-depth lessons, you’ll learn to inspire trust, lead with influence and become a reliable team player who gets things done. With the help of frameworks such as The Trust Equation and The Flywheel Effect, you’ll develop skills that equip you to manage projects expertly, adapt to situations instinctively and foster trust.

The Rise In An Organization pathway is the ticket to masterfully influencing decisions and outcomes and facing challenges head-on!

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Operational Strategy: A Quick Guide

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Companies have goals and the goods or services they produce must align with those goals. Everything has to work together, including resources and processes, to help achieve those goals as efficiently as possible to stay in business. Having an operational strategy helps companies meet those larger goals when planning their projects.

But what is an operational strategy? We’ll get to that in a moment, as well as discuss the various types and how to create an operational plan. Companies always need to review and revise their operational strategy to stay competitive and on track to meet their company-wide goals.

What Is Operational Strategy?

Operational strategy is how an organization decides how it’ll produce and deliver its goods or services. Every step that leads to manufacturing and what happens after the product is manufactured is detailed. The decisions made for each step make up the operational strategy.

But this doesn’t make it separate from the overall business strategy. In fact, the operational strategy must conform to the larger business strategy. In other words, the operational strategy for manufacturing a product line will have goals that work in tandem with the company’s larger business strategy. Both must align for the company to remain competitive in the marketplace.

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Operational Plan Template

Use this free Operational Plan Template for Word to manage your projects better.

  The operational strategy is made up of various smaller operations that feed into whatever the company is producing. Those operations might include such things as procurement of raw materials, working relationships with vendors and suppliers, design goals, manufacturing processes, packaging and delivery to name but a few.

That’s a lot of planning, monitoring and coordinating of production. To manage those workflows, you need project management software. ProjectManager is online project management software that helps you plan, manage and track your operations and keep them aligned with your operational strategy. Once you have an operational strategy, you need to create an operational plan on our interactive Gantt charts. Use it to organize your tasks, resources and costs on a timeline and filter for the critical path. Then set a baseline and track progress in real time. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart

Types of Operational Strategies

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to operational strategies. There are many types of organizations that use operational strategies to boost efficiency , capabilities and stay competitive. Here are just a few types of operational strategies that organizations use.

Corporate Strategy

When a corporation is devising its strategy, it must look at itself as a larger system made up of interconnected departments. They’re like hubs and nodes that work together to achieve a shared goal. Corporations achieve this through company policies and guidelines that allocate resources to various departments with the objective of reaching the overall goal.

Customer-Driven Operational Strategy

As the name implies, this operational strategy is when an organization intends to meet its customers’ needs. To do this, the organization must identify trends in the marketplace and determine how customers are behaving in terms of their buying preferences and demographics. With this research, an organization can pivot to exploit these findings and see threats to the business and mitigate them more quickly. They can also leverage their strengths and be more competitive.

Core Competencies Strategy

This operational strategy focuses on an organization’s key strengths, resources and capabilities. By pinpointing and exploiting those strengths, an organization can increase its customer satisfaction and loyalty to its product, which can help expand its footprint in the market. But such an operational strategy can also improve efficiencies, such as production costs , which helps with profitability and can even attract new talent.

Competitive Priorities Strategy

When an organization wants to differentiate its brand, product or service, they focus on a marketing-based corporate strategy as well as production processes and organizational culture. In doing so, they’re more likely to produce products and services that meet the needs of their customers at an affordable price. Looking at operational expenses and product development times is essential. Features, quality and benefits that differentiate their product help them stand out.

Product or Service Development Strategy

If you’re looking to improve innovation, this is the operational strategy you’ll want to utilize. It helps add value to your product design . Consider designing a product or service to exploit a niche in the market. You can also use your team and technology to provide customers with a wider range of products and services that they can’t find in the marketplace, such as free overnight delivery.

Cost-Driven Strategies

This operational strategy is based on price. It’s ideal for customers only looking at the bottom line when purchasing a product or service. Usually, these products have many competitors and little difference between their products. Therefore, a lower price is going to attract buyers. To lower your prices, look at production processes and other cost-effective methods.

Outsourcing Strategy

As the name suggests, this is for organizations that rely on others to produce their products and services or deliver them to customers. An outsourcing strategy revolves around your vendors, quality control and logistics. You can take advantage of lower labor costs, use a supply chain management firm to oversee distribution, but always ensure the quality is meeting your expectations.

Flexibility Strategy

If your product or service has the flexibility to change quickly to respond to customer preferences, you’ll want to employ this operational strategy. This can help you if you’re able to do things such as have customers personalize their orders or have the flexibility to warehouse many or few products according to demand.

Screenshot of the inline banner ad for the manufacturing ebook by ProjectManager

Creating an Operational Plan

Once you have an operational strategy, you’ll need an operational plan to implement it. An operational plan is a tool to ensure the projects and activities align with the goals and objectives of the organization.

The operational plan includes your goals and objectives, assigned tasks, timeline, budget and resources. This helps you manage your resources , monitor the financial health of the organization, guide your team and increase productivity.

To write an operational plan, follow these eight steps.

1. Know Your Operational Strategy

To begin, you need an operational strategy, which is more concerned with long-term goals than an operational plan that outlines the tasks that’ll help you to achieve those goals. Once you have an operational strategy, you can break it down into tasks to achieve its goals.

2. Set Goals and Objectives

The operational plan will ideally achieve the goals and objectives of your operational strategy. To make sure this happens, write down those goals and objectives to make sure they’re clear and everyone knows what they are.

3. Make a Budget

The budget funds the operational plan and allows managers to know what’s viable and what’s out of scope for the project. The budget is also instrumental in allocating the resources necessary to implement the operational plan.

4. Use Leading Indicators

By using leading indicators and predictive measurements, managers can forecast the outcomes of their operational plan. That informs the tasks and activities of the team and adds to the likelihood that they achieve favorable outcomes.

5. Communicate With the Team

Regular team meetings aid in the development of the operational plan. Team members will execute the plan and their insights prove valuable. It also keeps them updated on changes as the plan is developed, which helps them understand the overall plan and their role in it.

6. Use Reporting Tools

To make sure you’re keeping to the operational plan and that your team is accountable, you need reporting tools to track progress and performance. By monitoring a variety of project metrics, managers respond quickly if things are going off-track and get back on schedule without jeopardizing the project.

7. Keep Documentation

Document every step of your operational plan to track progress and measure improvements over time. This documentation also proves valuable when you’re working on a future operational plan, so be sure to archive it as well.

8. Review and Revise

An operational plan should be flexible. There will be challenges and changes over the course of its execution, so don’t look at the operational plan as written in stone. When there are changes, be sure to have regular meetings with your team to keep them updated.

Operations Plan Template

This operational planning template helps you list down the resources, budget, processes and risks that play a role in running your business operations.

operations plan template

Operational Planning vs. Strategic Planning

Operational planning and strategic planning are linked but different. A strategic plan outlines the necessary steps for an organization to achieve its goals and objectives. Operational plans are about the more short-term objectives of the organization.

Therefore, operational planning is updated annually, while strategic planning is used to guide an organization over a longer period of time. Also, the scope of a strategic plan is larger as it’s responding to the needs of the entire organization. Operational planning has a more limited scope, dealing mostly with a specific department or team.

Another difference is in who’s tasked with creating the plan. A strategic plan is usually under the purview of a top executive who’s dealing with the larger organization. Operational planning is led by mid-level managers and addresses the needs of their teams.

ProjectManager and Operational Planning

ProjectManager is online project management software that helps you plan, manage and track operational plans in real time. Plan and schedule resources and manage costs with our online Gantt chart that can be shared to keep everyone on the same page. Speaking of pages, all documentation is kept on our tool, which has unlimited file storage, so we’re also a central hub for all your operational planning documents.

Track Progress and Performance in Real Time

Your operational plan is supposed to support the larger operational strategy. To make sure it’s doing this, you need to monitor what your team is doing and if it’s tracking with the planned effort. Our real-time dashboard captures a high-level view of the progress and performance of the project across six metrics from time and cost to workload and more. Best of all, you don’t have to configure our dashboard as you do with other lightweight tools. Use our dashboard to track one project or your entire portfolio.

Automate Workflows and Boost Team Productivity

The operational strategy looks to improve efficiencies. Our automated workflow takes repetitive or simple tasks off your team’s desk to let them focus on more important tasks. You set the triggers that put into action such things on the task as changing the status, tags, assignee and more. To ensure quality, there are task approval settings that let only authorized team members allow the work to move forward.

ProjectManager's workflow automation

Our software helps you turn your operational strategy into an operational plan that will deliver on your organization’s goals and objectives. Use our collaborative platform to keep everyone working better together, sharing files and commenting at the task level. You’re always working on the most current data no matter which project view you choose, from Gantt charts to kanban boards, calendars and lists.

Related Operations Management Content

  • Operational Planning: How to Make an Operations Plan
  • Using Operational Excellence to Be More Productive
  • Operations Management: Key Functions, Roles and Skills
  • Operational Efficiency: A Quick Guide

ProjectManager is award-winning software that helps you manage your operational plans. Our real-time data helps managers make better decisions and connects teams to collaborate and increase their productivity. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

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Operational Plan - Overview

What Goes into an Operational Plan?

operational plan easy definition

Written by Jason Gordon

Updated at April 14th, 2022

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Table of Contents

What is an operational plan.

Planning business operations involves converting strategic goals into tactics and processes for carrying out an activity. Specifically, the operations plan contains the physical activities that one must undertake (or arrange for others to undertake) in carrying out your business value proposition. It establishes a timeline for the implementation of the business strategy over a stated period of time, generally 1 5 years. The plan may include expected costs of operation for each element of the plan. These figures may be used to set a budget, to substantiate the need for debt or investor capital, or to otherwise construct financial projections.

The operations plan will vary depending upon the nature of the business. Our explanation below is broken into general service and product-based businesses. In a hybrid business (offering some combination of products and services) then the operational plan will be a mixture of these elements.

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Operational Plan: Meaning, Limitations, Types, and how to Develop one?

October 18, 2019 | By Hitesh Bhasin | Filed Under: Operations Management

An operational plan is defined as a plan that is set in motion to establish, increase, and improve the daily operations of a business entity. It includes every activity that occurs in an organization on a regular and repetitive basis so as to deliver the products and services in a smooth and timely manner.

Operational planning is considered the core element of strategic planning as it deals in building competitive advantage by cutting costs and garnering new revenue figures.

Table of Contents

Meaning of operational plan

An operational plan is a detailed plan that offers a clear-cut picture of how a department, section, or a team will work to realize the goals of its organization. It maps out the daily tasks in an organized manner to remove any misunderstandings.

The operational plan is restricted to one part of a company . It is focused on the process, inventory, equipment, production, and products and services.

It uses the financial ratio of a company to analyze and identify the profitability and thus creates plans to increase the market share

Types of the operational plan

Types of the operational plan

Operational plans are classified as two types-

#1 Single-use Plans

It is related to a particular problem or a current period. The length or the amount of time for the plan may vary. The most common example of a single-use plan is the task schedule and budget.

An important benefit is addressing the needs efficiently as it is very specific.

#2 Ongoing/ Standing Plans

It is carried onwards to the next year and can extend to other years also. It includes regulations, procedures, and policies. The most important benefit of the ongoing or standing plan is that they encourage unity in the workplace by supporting the values of a company.

It also saves time as it has already been implemented and everyone is aware of it. As employees are aware of the necessary regulation and procedure, it helps in the delegation of work.

Understanding the operational plan

An operational plan is described as a map that is prepared by the low-level management by defining every action that will support the plans and objectives of the upper level of management . It is extremely detailed as it deals with questions like-

#1 How much

The financial and other resources that are available for successfully finishing a task or project are mentioned in the operational plan.

Setting the deadline to complete the task or project is part of an operational plan. It mentions the timeframe when the task is expected to be completed and delivered. It also gives the actual timeline to achieve a smooth process flow.

The individuals or employees who have been assigned to a task or project and their responsibilities as a team and as an individual. The expertise of the employees is perfectly aligned with the designated work to increase productivity .

Operational plans prompt the employees to take ownership of their actions and make them realize that they are accountable for it.

An operational plan talks about the strategies that have been formed to complete the assigned task. These are guided by quality standards, regulations, and protocols of a business entity.

It enables process mapping that will measure the efficiency and productivity of a workforce.

Importance of the operational plan

An operational plan helps the management to implement desired actions and monitor it by encouraging teams and individuals to

  • Prepare the project with a convincing plan
  • Effectively use the resources. Allocating scarce ones where they are most needed
  • Defining resource requirement and capacity gaps
  • Reducing risks and preparing contingency plans
  • Ensuring the sustainability of impact and target of the project

It helps the management to find loopholes and inefficiencies in its operations. It then becomes easier to rectify mistakes and take necessary action for increasing the productivity, efficiency, and profitability of a business.

Limitations of the operational plan

The limitation of the operational plan is

  • The development process is time-consuming, and managers are so busy planning that they have little time effectively left for the implementation. It can result in loss of profits.

How to develop an operational plan?

How to develop an operational plan

Adopt the following procedures to develop an operational plan-

#1 Start with your strategic plan

It is advised to start with your strategic plans because the operational plan is simply an effective tool to carry out those plans. When you have a strong strategic plan in place, writing, and creating an operational plan will become easier.

#2 Focus on the vital goals

Keep your plans simple because if they are complex by nature, then the team or individuals will find it very difficult to follow it. Put your onus on the goals that matter. Break your goals into smaller structures and then determine the important objectives.’

Take the initiative about organizational structures , faster delivery, quality-control measures, and professional development .

#3 Define the initiatives

Identify and define the initiatives of operational planning to execute your strategies.

The plan must outline all the actions to be taken, resources to be managed, and the metrics that should be measured to achieve the set goal.

 #4 Baby steps

Take baby steps to reach your goal slowly and steadily

#5 Use leading indicators

Choose predictive measures and leading indicators to gain a better view of future expectation so that you can chart your course accordingly.

#6 Plan out your action plan

Make sure you have a full-proof plan so that you can table it at the appropriate time

#7 Assign resources

It is important to assign human as well as financial resources as per your plan and be realistic in your approach.

#8 Plan your budget

Plan your budget properly because you do not want to finish your funds midway.

#9 Communicate your priorities

Make sure that every individual is actively involved in the project and your thoughts are being communicated properly.

#10 Assign responsibilities

It is vital to assign specific roles and responsibilities to everyone involved so that the work can continue effectively. Share the bigger picture so that you every member can connect within the team.

#11 Monitor the progress

Keep a vigilant eye on the progress of your operational plan. Full visibility is important to know the status of progress.

#12 Make adjustments

It is important to be flexible and make suitable adjustments when required so that the plan does not have to stop at any given time due to any reason.

Liked this post? Check out the complete series on Operations Management

Related posts:

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  • What are Operational Decisions and Their Role in Business?
  • What is Operational Risk Management or ORM? Definition and Stages
  • What is Operational Excellence and its 10 Core Principles
  • Process Control: Meaning, Objectives, Types, Importance, and Advantages
  • Incidence Rate – Definition, Meaning, Types, Examples
  • Quality Audit – Definition, Meaning, Types, Advantages
  • Operating Cycle: Meaning, & How to Reduce the Longer Operating Cycle?
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IMAGES

  1. Business Operational Plan

    operational plan easy definition

  2. What is an Operations Plan and Why Your Business Needs One

    operational plan easy definition

  3. Operational Plan: What is it & How to Create it? (Free Template Included)

    operational plan easy definition

  4. Operational Planning In A Nutshell

    operational plan easy definition

  5. Operational Plan for Business Plan

    operational plan easy definition

  6. Create a Strong Operational Plan for Your Business

    operational plan easy definition

VIDEO

  1. Part-4 What is Operational Planning? Operational Planning Process-Benefits of Operational Planning?

  2. Operational Planning

  3. Definition of Operational Plan

  4. Operational Plan Development

  5. What is a plan & what are types of plan? Strategic, Tactical & Operational Plans #1DoorHR

  6. What is an OPERATIONAL PLAN ? Operational Planning for OPERATIONS MANAGERS🥷🏻

COMMENTS

  1. How To Make an Operational Plan (With Steps and Examples)

    Operational or operations plans are documents businesses can use to outline their goals, define expectations and set achievable deadlines. Learning to create successful and comprehensive operational plans can help ensure you maximize efficiency and productivity in the workplace.

  2. What is Operational Planning? Definition and FAQs

    Operational planning is the result of a team or department working to execute a strategic plan. It is a future-oriented process that maps out department goals, capabilities, and budgets to promote the success of team-based activities designed to support the strategic plan.

  3. Operational Planning: How to Make an Operations Plan

    Operational planning is the process of turning strategic plans into action plans, which simply means breaking down high-level strategic goals and activities into smaller, actionable steps.

  4. What is an Operational Plan? A Complete Playbook (+ Examples, Tips

    November 9, 2022 11 min read Updated February 13, 2024 Discover the power of an operational plan in streamlining business operations. Learn how to create a fail-proof roadmap with examples and expert tips. Generate SOPs!

  5. Operational Plan: What is it & How to Create it? (Free Template Included)

    Step 4: Create Your Desired Document. Once you are in the workspace, click on the ' Create New' button. Select 'From Template' in the dropdown. A pop up will display allowing you to select a template from the gallery. In the search box on the top left corner, you can search for an "operational plan template".

  6. Operational Planning: How to Make an Operational Plan

    An operational plan is a document that outlines the key objectives and goals of an organization and how to reach them. The document includes short-term or long-term goals in a clear way so that team members know their responsibilities and have a clear understanding of what needs to be done.

  7. Operational Plan: Everything You Need To Know (2024 Guide)

    An operational plan is action and detail-oriented; it needs to focus on short-term strategy execution and outline an organization's day-to-day operations. If your operations strategy is a promise, your operational plan is the action plan for how you will deliver on it every day, week, and month.

  8. Learn how to do operational planning the right way

    Operational planning is the process of turning your strategic plan into a detailed map that outlines exactly what action your team will take on a weekly, or sometimes even daily, basis. An operational plan will include action items and milestones that each team or department needs to complete in order to execute your strategic plan.

  9. Operational Planning: Types, Steps & Advantages Explained

    Operational planning is a documented plan that outlines the goals and key objectives of an organization, and how they can be achieved. It ensures that team members understand their responsibilities as well as what they need to do.

  10. Operational Plans: Definition and Role in Business

    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.

  11. Operational Plan: Meaning, Example, Steps, Types And Importance

    Simply put, an operational plan lays out the tasks a business must carry out to reach the desired outcome. More accurately, it's a blueprint created by a department or a team within an organization that clearly defines the actions that must be taken to fulfill strategic objectives and meet the expectations of senior management.

  12. What an Operating Plan Is and Why You Absolutely Need One

    An operation plan is an extremely detail-oriented plan that clearly defines how a team or department contributes to reaching company goals. It outlines the daily tasks required for running a business.

  13. Operational Planning: Meaning, Examples And Benefits

    Operational planning is a method a department or team uses to take the company's strategic plan and turn it into a detailed map broken up into various components. This map, called the operational plan, documents the team's exact steps within specified time periods to reach each goal.

  14. Operational planning

    An operational plan is the basis for, and justification of, an annual operating budget needed to achieve an overall strategic plan. [citation needed] An operational plan draws from the strategic plans to describe program missions and goals, program objectives, and program activities.

  15. Operational Plan

    Definition of Operational Plans for a Business. An operational plan can be defined as a plan prepared by a component of an organization that clearly defines actions it will take to support the ...

  16. Strategic VS. Operational Planning: 7 Main Differences

    An operational plan (also known as a work plan) is a highly detailed outline of what your department will focus on for the near future—usually the upcoming year. The plan will answer questions - who, what, when, and how much - regarding daily or weekly tasks.

  17. Operational Strategy: A Quick Guide

    1. Know Your Operational Strategy. To begin, you need an operational strategy, which is more concerned with long-term goals than an operational plan that outlines the tasks that'll help you to achieve those goals. Once you have an operational strategy, you can break it down into tasks to achieve its goals. 2.

  18. PDF STEP ˛ WRITE THE OPERATING PLAN

    The strategic and operational plans are living documents that should infuse direction, purpose, and meaning into all the organization's functions and activities.

  19. Definition of Operational Plans for a Business

    An operational plan can be defined as a plan prepared by a component of an organization that clearly defines actions it will take to support the strategic objectives and plans of upper...

  20. Operational Plan

    Specifically, the operations plan contains the physical activities that one must undertake (or arrange for others to undertake) in carrying out your business value proposition. It establishes a timeline for the implementation of the business strategy over a stated period of time, generally 1 5 years. The plan may include expected costs of ...

  21. Operational Plan: Meaning, Limitations, Types, and how to ...

    An operational plan is defined as a plan that is set in motion to establish, increase, and improve the daily operations of a business entity. It includes every activity that occurs in an organization on a regular and repetitive basis so as to deliver the products and services in a smooth and timely manner.