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What are the major types of plans?

by Dan Power

In the planning literature and on the Web one finds a wide variety of plans. At PlanningSkills.COM, we have tried to identify understandable terms for major types of plans. The types of planning and hence plan development situations supported include: Budget Planning; Contingency Planning; Crisis Action Planning; Decision Meetings; Financial Planning; New Venture Planning; Operations Planning; Project Planning; and Strategic Planning.

PlanningSkills.COM focuses on individual, group and organizational planning with a primary emphasis on business planning.

A budget plan estimates income and expenditures for a planning unit, whether an individual, group or organization. A budget plan is for a fixed period of time. When the time period is 1 year, the term annual budget is appropriately used. When the expenditure period exceeds 2 years it is appropriate to call the spending plan a strategic budget. When the focus of the budget is on capital expenditures for durable goods, buildings, etc. the best term for the plan is a capital budget.

A contingency plan describes actions that can or should be executed when a specific contingency occurs. For example, a disaster plan is an example of a contingency plan. A disaster plan may focus on specific events, like a fire or a tornado, or on a set or category of disasters, like a power grid shutdown.

A crisis action plan is created in response to an unanticipated crisis situation. In some cases a crisis action plan is developed from one or more contingency plans.

Decision meeting plans emphasize the agenda for a specific small or large group meeting, especially planning meetings. A decision meeting plan is an example of task planning.

A financial plan can be an individual plan for personal retirement or asset management, an organization plan for financing a corporate acquisition or for financing a major investment, or any plan related to obtaining financial resources.

A new venture plan usually refers to a plan for starting and operating a new business venture. The term is broad enough however to encompass tasks related to any new venture whether initiated by an individual, group or organization for a profit or non-profit motive.

The term operations plan covers a broad scope related to anticipating day-to-day activities in a wide variety of organization setting. The time frame for an operations plan is usually 1 year or less.

Project or program plans are developed for a specific project or program. For example, NASA developed a project plan to put a man on the moon by 1970. The plan covered major activities over many years. The project plan was periodically revised and monitored to attempt to insure that the overall project goal was acheived.

Finally, a strategic plan refers to a long-range plan that covers how an organization will accomplish its long-term objectives and mission.

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