Tactical plans - Strategic Management

Tactical Planning is Short range planning that emphasizes the current operations of various parts of the organization. Short Range is defined as a period of time extending about one year or less in the future.

Managers use tactical planning to outline what the various parts of the organization must do for the organization to be successful at some point 1year or less into the future. Tactical plans are usually developed in the areas of production, marketing, personnel, finance and plant facilities.

Basic differences between strategic planning and tactical planning:

  1. Since upper managers generally have a better understanding of the organization as a whole than lower level managers do, upper management generally develops the strategic plans and because lower level managers generally have better understanding of the day to day organizational operations, generally the lower level managers develop the tactical plans.
  2. Because Strategic Planning emphasizes analyzing the future and tactical planning emphasizes analysing the everyday functioning of the organization,facts on which to base strategic plans are usually more difficult to gather than are facts on which to base tactical plans.
  3. Because strategic plans are based primarily on a prediction of the future and tactical plans on known circumstances that exist within the organization, strategic plans are generally less detailed than tactical plans.
  4. Because strategic planning focuses on the long term and tactical planning on the short term, strategic plans cover a relatively long period of time whereas tactical plans cover a relatively short period of time.

Despite their differences, tactical and strategic planning are integrally related. Manager need both tactical and strategic planning program, and these program must be closely related to be successful.
Tactical planning should focus on what to do in the short term to help the organization achieve the long term objectives determined by strategic planning. The content of any business plan will depend on why the plan is being produced. Some plans are for internal use only and act as a common reference during the preparation of budgets and appraisals. Some plans are basically sales documents aimed at persuading banks to provide loans and investors to provide equity.

The process of producing a useable tactical plan is not easy as some flexibility is required to allow response to unplanned events. There are a large variety of strategic planning models and organisations that provide strategic planning consulting. Some of these are useful and can be used a check lists to ensure completeness and as facilitators to ask the awkward questions that people would prefer to leave unanswered.

It is important that the tactical plan should be checked to ensure it is aligned with the strategic plan and that all activities are aimed at moving closer to the goals defined in the strategic plan. It is very easy for the tactical plan to diverge at a tangent because of someone’s interests or disagreement with the strategic plan.

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