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Effective Planning For Managers – Part 1

How To Forecast For Effective Planning

Forecasting is the work a manager performs to estimate and predict future conditions and events. There is a need for forecasting because this is the basis for setting objectives. Furthermore, it creates understanding of problems and opportunities and sets limits for planning. Through forecasting, a manager is able to identify potential problems, assess threats, identify likely causes, take action, and trigger innovation or change.

The manager must prepare decisions for upcoming actions and thus must predict upcoming demands. Forecasting may be aligned to predicting economic conditions in the future or it may be conducted towards estimation of particular quantities that will be bought in different markets.

The independent demand for a specific firm is determined upon the condition of the overall demand in the economy; therefore, a first step is to forecast the health of the economic surroundings. A second step in forecasting the market for a specific product usually focuses on the overall demand for the industry. Large companies maintain close contact with all factors regarding the industry for the reason they have a bigger stake in the problems. Smaller companies may accept the advice of business economists of these bigger firms. The demand for the industry can be studied by single components, like (a) sales of products to new customers (e.g., the sale of television sets or automobiles to people who do not own the product), (b) sales of additional products to previous customers (e.g., a second television set or automobile), (c.) replacement sales for products that have broken down, and (d) sales influenced by new technological advancement (e.g., LCD television sets).

A third step in forecasting the appeal for a given firm is the assessment of the market share of the specific company. The past share of the market may serve as the base for this step. Adjustments, however, should be made by forecasting the effect of new programs planned by the company, expected reactions of competitors to the company's actions and to industry conditions, and detailed reports by salesmen in different localities.

Forecasting is making a projection of what will happen by a certain time. In general, a manager must do the following:

1. Identify one or more factors that have a critical effect on whether he achieves his objective;

2. Determine how often he needs his forecast; and

3. Use a forecasting method that balances accuracy, timeliness, and economy.

Principles of Forecasting

1. Principle of Gradual Change: Changes that take place in basic forces tend to be gradual over the long term.

2. Principle of Cause and Effect: Future events result from past and current occurrences.

Methods of Forecasting

1. Mechanical Projection: a forecast decided by expecting that future trends will have essentially comparable characteristics as those of the past.

2. Analytical Projection: a forecast made by first analyzing why specific events have happened in the past and then utilizing this data to estimate and anticipate possible future instances.

Management Technique of Forecasting

1. Identify critical factors to be forecasted.

2. State assumptions.

3. Determine forecasting period.

4. Select forecasting method(s).

5. Estimate a range of event magnitudes.

6. Prepare the forecast.

7. Communicate the forecast.

8. Maintain the forecast.

How To Set Objectives For Effective Planning

Setting objectives is the work a manager does to establish the results to be accomplished.

Objectives can be classified into key objective, critical objective, and specific objective. A statement of the fundamental commitments that an enterprise and its components are organized to achieve and that determines their purpose and nature is called a key objective. A statement of the most important overall continuing results that must be accomplished to achieve the key objective is called a critical objective. A statement of the measurable, time-limited result that must be accomplished to achieve a critical objective is called specific objective. An example of a specific objective is given below:

The following specific objective was developed:

To develop annual and monthly operating plans as part of the overall corporate plan, including department objectives, programs, schedules, and budgets to meet company standards.

a. Each manager will develop and maintain a Position Charter, reviewed annually.

b. Each manager will prepare an annual operating plan, updated monthly.

Accountability: Department Manager for Engineering Department, each manager for his section.

Time: System to be in operation and operation plans submitted by July 3, 2015.

The Importance of Specific Objectives

Specific objectives are important to management success because they are versatile and powerful management tools. They keep people focused on the most important things they should be doing and provide a convenient means for appraising performance. They facilitate control and are a precise means by which to delegate.

Techniques for Developing Objectives

1. Examine the values of company or organization and conduct commitment analysis.

2. Identify the most important opportunities and problems in all areas of responsibility. State key objectives.

3. Conduct critical performance analysis. State critical objectives.

4. Conduct needs analyses. State specific objectives.

5. Make. sure the attainment of objectives is largely under control.

6. Establish deadline.

It is necessary for the manager to systematically identify and examine the primary obligations that an organization and each of its components must undertake to accomplish their purpose. He must examine customer's/client's geography, functions, employees, society, and investors. Then he must systematically determine performance areas that are most vital to the achievement of an organization's key objectives. Planning, organizing, leading, and controlling are the management's critical performance areas. The vital management work necessary to accomplish key objectives is technical critical performance.

Finally, the manager must systematically identify and examine the needs that must be satisfied in order to achieve critical objectives. The analysis of the standards for the critical objectives determines the needs.

Principle in Setting Objectives

PRINCIPLE OF TANGIBILITY: The more tangible an objective is, the more direct and specific the effort to achieve it tends to be. Objectives must cascade from the top down throughout all levels of management.

How To Make a Position Charter

The Position Charter is a statement of the most important result required, which provides standards of excellence. Thus the Position Charter provides key objectives and critical objectives.

The following are the steps in making the Position Charter:

1. State the key objectives.

2. State the critical objectives.

3. Review the standards of each critical objective.

4. Write out the specific objectives that apply to your position, that is, concise statements of the measurable results which must be accomplished to fulfill the standards of performance of critical objectives.

Below is an example of a Position Charter.

Position Charter

Component: Hats and Scarves Division, Knitting Department, Seagull Garments, Inc.

Title of Job Position: Plant Manager

Key Objective: The key objective of the Plant Manager of Hats and Scarves Division is to contribute to the Department objectives by creating, designing, developing, and improving products and manufacturing processes which meet standards of performance, in quality, reliability, and cost which will equal or exceed the best competition.

Critical Objective: Results necessary to achieve key objectives. Planning and Control Performance. To develop, establish and maintain a logical, efficient, and integrated system for planning and controlling Hats and Scarves operations.

Standard. Objectives, programs, schedules, and budgets are developed by each supervisor in Hats and Scarves Division for semiannual and annual periods, with individual review and counseling at least quarterly.

Specific Objective: _

Need Area: _

Result Desired: _

Standards: _

Accountability: _

Time: _

I. Specific Objective Checklist

a. Is the desired result clearly stated? Are the terms measurable?

b. Is each area of work identified in the results statement covered by a standard?

c. When all standards are met, will the desired result, in fact, be achieved?

d. Do the standards describe measurable evidence of the desired result?

e. Are the standards realistic? Practical?

f. Are accountabilities and time limits stated?

g. Is the valuation complete? Stated in measurable terms? Realistic and appropriate?

h. Do you mean what the words on paper say?

i. Can this specific objective be accomplished in today's environment and with people and resources that logically could be placed under your control?

II. Critical Objective Checklist

a. Is the desired result clearly stated? Is it continuing in nature?

b. Is every area of work identified in the results statement covered by a standard?

c. When all standards are met, will the desired result, in fact, be achieved?

d. Do the standards describe desired conditions of performance and provide clear direction to subordinates?

e. Are the standards realistic? Practical?

f. Does each standard state a desired condition and not the activity leading to that condition?

g. Do you mean what the words on paper say?

h. Can this critical objective be accomplished in today's environment and with people and resources that logically could be placed under your control?

i. Was there “people action” in developing the critical objectives? By the boss? By peers? By subordinates?

How To Develop Policies For Effective Planning

Policies are standard decisions in answer to important repetitive questions or problems. They should result from planning. Suppose you are a plant manager. One of your objectives is to maintain the best possible working climate. You notice that a few workers always come five to ten minutes late to work, and this tends to cause friction between the workers. You may conclude that part of the program toward your objective is to establish a policy that all workers should start work at the set time and allow for certain penalties if people are late.

Policies are general guides for decision making and individual actions. The following are the steps in making policies:

1. Determine long-range objective.

2. Determine organizational values and managing philosophy.

3. Determine employees’ cultural values.

4. Determine policies in those areas where recurrent decisions are created.

5. Determine how exclusion to policies will be handled.

Policies should result naturally from using the following How-to-Plan outline.

How to Use a Plan

First, the manager must use a plan to keep himself and those working with him aiming at the objectives. The plan cannot help him if he never looks at it and works toward the deadline set by it. Second, he must use a plan to impart to his people a vision to which they can be committed. A thorough plan helps to show people that the manager is serious about accomplishing his objectives. People want to work with an organization that not only has worthwhile objectives, but also has challenging plans and is efficiently run.

How to Get Employees to Plan for Their Jobs

First and foremost, the manager must set an example for them. He must plan for his job and use each plan in a way that is obvious to those around him.

Second, he must require plans from the employees in each area of their jobs. He must set a deadline for the plans to be submitted.

Third, the manager must help them plan. He must make sure that they have the guidelines they need from him. If a person is very new to planning, the manager must help him through the process.

Fourth, the manager must make sure the plans are submitted; then, he evaluates them. Later, he gives the employees feedback. He must tell them where he thought they did good thinking and where the plans could be improved.

Fifth, the manager must use the plans in subsequent discussions with the employees to provide guidelines for what they should be doing with their time. If the manager doesn't refer to the plans for a year, they will not be motivated to submit them next year.

How to Plan for One's Personal Life

In brief, a manager can use the how-to-plan outline (ESTABLISH OBJECTIVES, PROGRAM, SCHEDULE, BUDGET) to plan for his personal life. He will want to establish objectives, etc., in the following areas of his life: spiritual, mental, physical, vocational, social, financial. In addition, he will want to help each member of his family think through a similar type of plan.

How to Present a Plan

After spending many hours coming up with a very detailed plan, the manager will be inclined to tell others about every last detail. To present his plan to a group, he must ask himself what the objective of the presentation is. If he is just trying to give them an overview of the plan, then he must present the objectives, a summary of the program, some key target dates and numbers from the schedule, and a few summary figures from the budget.

If he is trying to raise money, he will spend more time on the budget point, relating the expenses to the program and objectives. (Investors generally respond well when they see their money contributes directly to measurable results.)

If he is trying to instruct a group how to help implement the plan, he will probably spend more time explaining the program.

In summary, his plan is a written documentation of his (and others') thinking. The presentation should reflect not just the manager's thinking, but also what he wants the audience to do in response.

Plan to Plan

The manager should schedule a significant time period to plan at least every year and preferably every six months. He must go some place where there are no distractions (e.g., telephone calls, visitors, etc.). He must set aside enough time to be able to think things through (two to three days a year would not be excessive for most managers). He must bring a few of his key people with him if they will help in the planning. He must bring all of his previous planning apparatus, all other information he needs, plenty of lined and graphed paper, a flip chart (if needed), pencils and felt pens, comfortable clothes.

Continue to Part 2

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