Planning is a crucial element of starting and operating a business. Entrepreneurs create plans to address an array of issues. Plans help business owners to think through complex processes and address each of a series of requirements to accomplish certain goals. Managers draft both standing plans and single-use plans to address the range of challenges they confront in their leadership roles. Understanding the difference between the two can help you to create effective business plans.
Standing plans are used over a long period of time, sometimes indefinitely, and can be altered to adapt to changing circumstances. A standing plan is often created with input from a wide range of individuals over a longer period of time than single-use plans. Standing plans generally encompass a wider scope than single-use plans, involving more than one department or business function.
Single-use plans are created to address short-term challenges or provide guidance for short-term initiatives. Single-use plans can be created in teams or by individual managers. The scope of these plans is generally smaller than the scope of standing plans. For example, single-use plans can be created for specific work groups or departments to guide their contributions to short-term company objectives.
Business plans are an ideal example of a standing plan. Entrepreneurs draft business plans before opening the doors to their business, and they can use their plan to guide their efforts for years into the future. Initially used to guide business owners through the process of addressing every aspect of their operations and finances, as well as to attract lenders and investors, business plans can also guide future product development initiatives, marketing campaigns and other strategic decisions.
An outline for an advertising campaign is an example of a single-use plan. An ad campaign plan may contain the number and types of advertisements to be used in the campaign, the specific outlets that will be used, and the frequency and duration of the advertisements' exposures. After the campaign runs its course, the short-term plan will lose its relevance, except as a guide for creating future plans.
Single-use plans and standing plans are not always used independently. You can often find single-use plans used within standing plans to aid in accomplishing the grand goals of the standing plans. Consider a 20-year plan to maintain market dominance through frequent new product introductions, for example. This plan is likely to require a large number of smaller product development and marketing plans, as well as plans for developing and retaining the top talent in the industry.