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Plan
A plan is a series of steps to achieve the organization's goals.


Purpose of Plans 
An organizational plan is documented information that specifies the programmes to achieve the organizational objectives.

They are developed by organizations to ensure responsible stewardship of their assets.



Types of Plans
There are many different types of plans that can be developed and implemented by an organization in pursuit of its goals and objectives. Listed below are some of the more common types of plans.

A.  The first group of plans are organized by time-frame:
  • Strategic Plan – This plan takes a long-range view of the needs of the organization, typically looking forward 20-30 years into the future. Strategic plans try to give a “big picture” view of things. It is somewhat like taking a flight at 30,000 feet above a forest to survey the entire forest and see over the horizon to the mountains located beyond the forest. At such a height it is not possible to see the details on the ground inside the forest but it is possible to see big risks that are off in the distance. For example, Amiable Housing Society has recognized that the average lifecycle of many of its assets is approximately 25 years, so its strategic plan endeavours to reduce the financial burden of big expenses by making whole life decisions around the renewal of assets and enabling the organization to start preparing today. 
  • Tactical Plan – This plan occupies a position somewhere between the strategic plan and the operational plan. A tactical plan may consider a 3-year, 5-year or 10-year window into the future. It is like a helicopter ride hovering at the top of the trees where the details on the forest floor and the tree canopy are relatively clear. However, it is not possible to see the edge of the forest. 
  • Operational Plan – This plan is focused on one single fiscal year or calendar year. It is like walking inside a forest where we can touch and smell the trees and the detailed activities in the forest floor. However, we cannot see beyond all the tree trunks that immediately surround us. For example, Amiable Housing Society, has its fiscal year end on March 31 so its operational plan runs from April 1 to March 31 each year. Starting in January the organization begins the process of updating its operational plan for the next fiscal cycle.
B.  The second group of plans are organized by theme or function.
  • Stakeholder Plan – This plan identifies the different types of stakeholders (both internal and external) that have an interest in and an influence over the organization. It identifies the resources and activities that are necessary to manage positive relations with the different stakeholders. For example, Amiable Housing Society, has identified 12 stakeholder groups and has a plan to communicate periodically with each stakeholder. 
  • Resourcing Plan – This plan identifies the number of staff and type of staff that are required to meet the organization’s objectives. It also considers the appropriate balance between internal resources (staff) and external resources (such as contractors). For example, Amiable Housing Society has a plan that identifies what the organization will do to invest in staff development (through training, mentoring and coaching) and how it will manage the risk of outsourced activities (through contracts and procurement protocols).
  • Safety Plan – This plan identifies all the potential safety hazards on the site, in and around the buildings that are owned and/or operated by the organization. These hazard include storage of chemicals, fall protection, confined spaces, asbestos containing materials, etc. For example, Amiable Housing Society has a plan that lists the location of all site hazards and the measures that are in place to avoid or mitigate safety risks. The safety plan is closely tied to the risk management plan.
  • Risk Management Plan – This plan provides a register of all the different types of risks facing the organization, their likelihood and their impact if they occur. The plan then develops a series of treatments to address each risk. For example, Amiable Housing Society has a plan that identifies which risks are covered by insurance policy and which risks the organization will try to mitigate itself. 
  • Information & Technology Plan – This plan identifies the types of information that the organization needs to collect in order to achieve its objectives, the requirements for storage of information, hardware and the use of different software applications to empower staff. For example, Amiable Housing Society, use its plan to determine how to gradually eliminate some of the spreadsheets on staff computers and move towards a central data storage system. 
  • Sustainability Plan – This plan identifies how the organization will find the optimal balance across the triple bottom line of people (community), planet (environment) and profit (financial viability) and across the triad of risk, cost and performance. The plan identifies the types of inevitable trade-offs that the organization may sometimes need to make in order to meets its objectives. For example, Amiable Housing Society has a policy and a plan that serve to place the community and the environment at a high ranking alongside its own financial viability. 
  • Capital Plan – This plan identifies the lifespans of the different assets and the forecasted replacement costs at the end of their useful life. This information is presented in the form of cash flow table that enables the organization to make informed decisions on how much money should be set aside each fiscal year in preparation for future projects. For example, Amiable Housing Society has a capital plan to help it determine the appropriate size of the annual reserve contributions that should be included in the annual operating budget. 
  • Maintenance Plan – This plan identifies all the organization’s physical assets and the maintenance tasks that are required to ensure the ongoing performance of the assets. 
  • Change Management Plan – This plan identifies the gaps in the organization’s existing processes and how the organization will implement changes over time. The plan identifies the five milestones an individual must achieve for change to be successful: awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, reinforcement. For example, Amiable Housing Society has a plan that recognizes how its organizational culture has some barriers to change and how these will need to be overcome.
  • Information Management Plan
  • Communication Plan
  • Master Plans -
C.  Plans by Level-in-the-Organization
     B. Plans by Time-Frame
      C.  Plans by Theme/Function

      Political (people) Plans
      Legal ("Big Picture") Plans
       Financial Plans
      Technical Plans
      Logistical Plans

   
 Project Plans
  • Business Plan/Case



Plans within the Hierarchical Context
The organization's plans occupy one of the base layers of the inspirational-and-aspirational hierarchy. 
Without adequate policies the organization will encounter difficulties when developing some of the other layers of the aspirational-inspirational hierarchy.


Strategy vs Plans vs. Processes
There is often confusion between these three concepts.

Risk has been defined as “the effect of uncertainty on the organization’s objectives”. Strategies, plans and processes each provide the organization with some tools to reduce “uncertainty” and thereby to help the organization manage risk.

It is essential that the organization understand the subtle differences between these three concepts and the appropriate sequence in which they should be developed.

  • Strategy (the Roadmap) – This is a high level map of the landscape to reveal where the organization is located now (“A”) relative to where it wants to get to (“B”).  A strategy does consider the different potential routes between “A” and “B” but is primarily focused on the destination rather than the journey.  It offers a roadmap to provide navigational context and some guidelines to consider the multiple alternative routes but no details on which specific route to use for getting to the destination -- that is where the plans and processes comes into the story. For example, Amiable Housing Society has captured its strategy in a short document that provides a “lay of the land” and the milestones that will be encountered and serve to confirm progress along the journey to the destination.
  • Plans (the Route) – This is a documented series of steps on how to move the organization from where its is now (“A”) to where it wants to be (“B”).  A plan tackles questions like how, when, where, who, and what. As such it supports the strategy by providing a way to reach (“B”) that provides an acceptable balance of risk, cost and performance. A plan allocates the resources to achieve the strategy and will therefore -- inevitably need to make some trade-offs – it will have to pick one route over another. Good plans recognize that no route is perfect and that there are always contingencies along way. A plan works out how to deal with roadblocks and traffic jams along the way from “A” to “B”.
  • Processes (the Vehicle & the Fuel)– These are the clearly defined ways of doing specific tasks. A process is much more rigid sequence than a plan. A process is typically applied to a very specific task that is well defined with little chance of contingencies or need for flexibility. Processes are the powerhouses that do all the heavy lifting. They are the fuel that moves the organization forward along the route to the destination.

One of the key difference between strategies, plans and processes is the level of uncertainty that is involved.

The responsibilities for developing strategy, plans and processes are therefore usually separated within the organization. This is summarized in the following table.

Activities to reduce uncertainty

 

Questions answered

Staff assigned to the role

Frequency

Strategy
(roadmap)

Why? What if?

Top management –

(Board of Directors, Executive)

Yearly or longer

Plans
(route)

Who? When? Where?

Middle management -

Department manager

Monthly, quarterly yearly

Processes
(vehicle/fuel)

How?

Frontline staff

Every day

 



Process of Developing Plans
Included below is an outline of the key steps in developing plans for the organization:
  • Strike a Committee – The first step in the planning process is to strike a committee to develop the plan. The committee should be comprised of staff who have the appropriate skills to develop the plan at hand. The leadership group must demonstrate its commitment by providing the planning committee with the appropriate resources (financial and non-financial resources, human and non-human resources, internal and external resources) to complete its mandate.  For example, the leadership at Amiable Housing Society, have demonstrated their commitment by providing the planning committee with a full week paid retreat away from the office to dedicate their efforts to developing the plan.
  • Review the Goals & Strategy – The next step in the planning process is to review the organization's goals and strategy. The planning team is often a separate group from that which prepared the goals and strategy. For example, the planning committee at Amiable Housing Society begins every planning exercise by having the planning committee chairperson read the organization’s mission statement to the committee. The committee then discusses the mission statement and the strategy before developing the plan.  
  • Conduct a Gap Analysis – In this step the organization identifies the different types of plans that are required to meet its organizational objectives, whether any plans already exist, and the quality of the existing plans. The purpose of this step is identify gaps so that improvement initiatives can be developed accordingly.
  • Prepare the Plan – In this step the organization documents the different elements of the plans (ie. resources, activities and timelines). As far as reasonably possible, the table of contents should follow a similar structure for each plan so that the plans can all eventually be integrated. For example, Amiable Housing Society, supports its planning teams by ensuring that they have the appropriate resources (human and non-human, internal and external, financial and non-financial) to develop their plans.
  • Integrate the Plan – In this step the organization aligns the plans with one another. There should be some appropriate amount of overlap between the different plans but no inconsistencies and resource or prioritization conflicts. For example, Amiable Housing Society, holds an all-staff meeting once a year that is dedicated exclusively to the task of ensuring that its plans are cross-functional and align with the requirements of each department in the organization.
  • Communicate the Draft Plan – In this step the organization informs the various stakeholders of the draft plan. For example, Amiable Housing Society conveys the appropriate message to each of the stakeholders at the appropriate time during the calendar year and obtains their input as required.
  • Approve the Plan – In this step the organization arranges to receive the necessary approvals to finalize the plan. For example, Amiable Housing Society gets the board of directors to formally adopt each plan at one of the meetings. This approval is recorded in the minutes of the meetings. A copy of the approved plan is then made available to the affected stakeholders. 
  • Execute the Plan – In this step the organization carries out the plan, based on the resources, activities and timelines that were contemplated in the plan. For example, Amiable Housing Society has assigned a manager to each plan who is then tasked with coordination of the teams. 
  • Evaluate the Plan – In this step the organization evaluates the performance of the plans to determine how well they are meeting its objectives. For example, Amiable Housing Society, has developed a practice of reviewing all its plans in January each year. It does this so that its team has three months to update the plans before the start of the next fiscal year in April 1.
  • Continual Improvement of the Plan – In this step the organization refines the plans over time.
Included below is an outline of the key steps in developing plans for the organization:
  • Establish the organization's goals and objectives
  • Develop the organizations strategy to achieve the goals and objectives
  • Identify the types of plans that are required (gap analysis)
  • Prepare the different types of plan


Management of Plans
Planning is the 3rd chapter of the 7 chapters of the ISO 55000.

Listed below are some of the key principles in management of the plans

  • Continual improvement
There are many powerful quotations from military commanders, presidents and other leaders on the value of planning and its relationship to plans.
  • "Plans are useless but planning is essential" (Dwight D. Eisenhower)
  • "A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow" 
  • "It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan" (Eleanor Roosevelt)
The hierarchy of plans in ISO 550001 from OCP to SAMP to AMPs
Fig. The hierarchy of plans in ISO 550001 from OCP to SAMP to AMPs


The aspirational-inspirational hierarchy of organizations with plans represented as one of the layers
Fig. The aspirational-inspirational hierarchy of organizations with plans represented as one of the layers.


Analyzing the words inside ISO 55000/55001 to reveal patterns in the requirements
Fig. Analyzing the approximate 27,0000 words inside ISO 55000/55001 to reveal patterns in the requirements.
Planning features prominently



An Asset Management Plan (AMP) will optimize value by making appropriate trade-offs between risk, cost and performance
Fig. An Asset Management Plan (AMP) will optimize value by making appropriate trade-offs between risk, cost and performance.


Planning is one of the seven chapters of ISO 55000
Fig. Planning is the 3rd chapter of the seven chapters of ISO 55000/55001.


Word cloud to illustrate the action verbs in the ISO 55000 standard
Fig. Word cloud to illustrate the action verbs in the ISO 55000 standard


Planning must be iterative, dynamic and continuous. If it becomes static it starts to look more like an old dusty blueprint rather than a live roadmap
Fig. Planning must be iterative, dynamic and continuous. If it becomes static it starts to look more like an old dusty blueprint rather than a live roadmap.
The relationship between plans and planning is a complicated one. Planning must be iterative, dynamic and continuous. If it becomes static it starts to look more like an old dusty blueprint rather than a live roadmap.


Some organizations struggle with "paralysis through analysis" (and never feel comfortable to finalize a plan) and others who perhaps fail to "look before you leap" (start too quickly).
Fig. Some organizations struggle with "paralysis through analysis" (and never feel comfortable to finalize a plan) and others who perhaps fail to "look before you leap" (start too quickly).

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