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How to master organizational planning in 5 simple steps

Whitney Vige headshotWhitney Vige
February 5th, 2024
5 min read
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Organizational planning is the process of defining a company's overarching goals and mapping out the steps necessary to achieve them. Discover how to master it in 5 steps. 

Every organization is a complex puzzle, with different projects, tasks, and goals scattered across teams and departments. Individually these pieces might seem disjointed, but when put together they form a picture of success. 

Organizational planning is crucial to aligning these elements by mapping out your company’s high-level goals and connecting them to individual tasks. The process empowers you to see where each piece of work fits—so you can understand its contribution to high-level organizational goals and ensure all efforts are moving in the same direction. Let’s take a look at how it’s done. 

What is organizational planning?

Organizational planning is the process of defining a company's overarching goals and mapping out the strategic and tactical steps necessary to achieve them, aligning daily activities with the company’s long-term vision.

The organizational planning process involves defining a company’s purpose, establishing clear objectives, and developing a plan to translate these objectives into reality. The result of organizational planning is an organizational plan, which is a structured action plan that outlines the specific tasks the organization and its employees will undertake to reach the set goals.  

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What are the phases of organizational planning?

Organizational planning is a multi-step process divided into four distinct phases, with each phase focusing on different aspects of the organization’s strategy and operations. 

The four phases of organizational planning are: 

  • Strategic planning: Outline the organization’s long-term goals and objectives. This phase involves big-picture thinking about the company’s strategic aims, mission, vision, and purpose, ensuring goals align with the organization’s overarching direction. 

  • Tactical planning: Develop a specific strategy to achieve the company’s goals. Typically, this involves outlining short-term goals that align with larger company objectives. 

  • Operational planning: Shift focus to the day-to-day operations that support the tactical plans. This phase involves detailing the specific tasks, workflows, and assignments that ensure everyday activities connect to strategic objectives. 

  • Contingency planning: Plan and prepare for unforeseen circumstances and events that may disrupt your progress. During this phase, you should develop backup plans and response strategies for potential disruptions, like supply chain interruptions or sudden changes in market conditions. 

Creating an organizational plan: The five-step process 

Developing an effective organizational plan involves breaking down the first three phases of the organizational planning process—strategic, tactical, and operational planning—into actionable steps. 

Here’s how you can go about it: 

1. Develop a strategic plan

To craft your strategic plan, start by bringing together your organization’s high-level managers and department heads. Then, assess where your company currently stands—and where you want to take it—to develop high-level strategic goals. 

Reviewing your organization’s mission and vision statements, conducting a SWOT analysis, and measuring the performance of key areas are all techniques you can use to understand your company’s opportunities and set these business goals. Remember, your strategic plan should outline big-picture SMART goals that are time-bound, achievable, and align with your company’s mission and values. 

2. Translate your plan into tactical steps

Once you’ve developed your strategic plan, it’s time to break down your long-term objectives into more manageable, short-term goals. This typically involves looping in middle managers and setting departmental goals that ladder up to your higher-level objectives. This step should include developing clear timelines, milestones, and performance metrics so you can effectively track progress and make adjustments as needed.  

This step often involves launching new initiatives aligned with your strategic goals. Let’s say the high-level objective you set forth in your strategic plan is to “increase overall market share by 15% in the next three years.” You might break down that objective to short-term goals like “launch a new product line in the next 12 months” or “increase customer engagement by 20% over the next quarter.” By translating your plan into actionable steps that support your larger objective, you create a clear roadmap for your org to follow—and ensure everyone is working toward the common goal. 

3. Plan your daily operations

After breaking down your strategic plan into tactical steps, your next move is to get even more granular by translating those steps into day-to-day actions. This might involve setting up high-level projects aligned with your short-term goals, establishing work schedules for various teams and departments, and sending out task assignments to individual employees. 

Let’s go back to our previous example. If your short-term goal is to "increase customer engagement by 20% over the next quarter," your daily operations might include scheduling regular training sessions for the sales team, developing marketing strategies to enhance customer interaction, and assigning specific team members to develop engagement strategies. This detailed planning ensures that your daily activities align with achieving your short-term goals—which ultimately means fulfilling your strategic objectives. 

How to build an organizational strategy

Get our free ebook and learn how to bridge the gap between mission, strategic goals, and work at your organization.

4. Communicate and implement your plan

Once you have your entire plan mapped out—from your high-level, strategic objectives down to the daily activities that support them—the next step is communicating the plan to your organization. 

Start by holding an all-hands meeting that introduces your vision and strategic plan to your org, and then follow up with a company-wide message that clearly outlines your high-level goals and details the short-term goals you need to achieve to accomplish them. During this step, your managers should communicate the individual tasks their team members are responsible for and explain how their team’s work connects to company objectives. 

5. Monitor and adjust your plan as necessary 

Your work isn’t done just because you’ve developed and implemented your plan. It’s important to monitor your progress in real-time so you can address any blockers that may arise. You should  regularly review your short-term benchmarks to see if you’re successfully tracking toward your overarching objectives and adjust if necessary.

Let’s return to our previous example. In this scenario, your high-level objective is to “increase overall market share by 15% in the next three years.” To contribute to this, you set a short-term goal to “increase customer engagement by 20% over the next quarter.” After review, maybe you find that you’re not tracking toward this goal due to lower-than-expected customer interaction on new digital platforms

In order to realign with your objectives, you need to adjust your plan. This could mean setting new short-term goals around improving the user experience on your digital platforms or offering more engaging online content. Adjusting your strategy in response to real-time challenges keeps you on track to achieve your long-term goals.

Organizational planning best practices

Feeling overwhelmed? Here’s the TL;DR to ensure a smooth and successful organizational planning process:

  • Align your objectives with your company’s vision and mission

  • Kick-off your planning process with a strategic planning template to cut down on upfront work

  • Create actionable and time-bound plans

  • Break down long-term objectives into achievable, short-term goals

  • Map individual tasks to short-term goals

  • Adapt your plan to challenges in real-time 

  • Leverage technology to streamline the planning and progress tracking processes

  • Clearly communicate your plan to stakeholders

  • Regularly review and refine your plan 

Master organizational planning with Asana

Say goodbye to disjointed planning processes. By leveraging a work management platform like Asana, you can easily connect your team’s individual work to your organization’s goals, ensure that every project is aligned with organizational objectives, and track goal progress in real-time. The end result is a perfectly completed puzzle with every piece in its place. 

How to build an organizational strategy

Get our free ebook and learn how to bridge the gap between mission, strategic goals, and work at your organization.

Organizational planning FAQs

Still have organizational planning questions? We have answers.

Why is organizational planning important?

Organizational planning provides a roadmap for your company, outlining your overarching objectives and the tactical steps you’ll take to achieve them. By aligning the efforts of departments, teams, and individuals toward common goals, organizational planning creates alignment, drives clarity, and empowers companies to hit their goals. 

What is the role of technology in organizational planning?

Organizational planning involves mapping out strategic, high-level organizational objectives and connecting them to short-term goals and individual, day-to-day tasks. Leveraging technology, like a work management platform, enables organizations to take advantage of features that connect daily tasks to strategic objectives and provide real-time progress tracking. These capabilities simplify organizational planning and make it more efficient. 

What are common examples of organizational planning?

While organizational planning typically refers to the strategy behind overarching organizational goals, it can also refer to planning within specific subsets of a company. Common types of organizational planning include:

  • Workforce development planning, which addresses employee training and career growth, as well as long-term staffing and human resource goals. 

  • Financial and budget planning, which focuses on day-to-day fiscal management as well as long-term financial planning. 

  • Expansion planning, which involves strategies for business growth and market expansion.

  • Products and services planning, which concentrates on the development and management of a company’s products and services. 

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