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Planning Procedures for Building Effective Management Systems

Have you ever had the opportunity to watch the construction of a large building? The daily progress from foundation to top floor is truly amazing, and if you're like me, you wonder "how does it all happen?" The answer: it takes a lot of planning.

The Planning Phase

A complex construction job clearly requires planning in excruciating detail to orchestrate materials and manpower. Inadequate planning can result in waste, delays and a shoddy end-product.

Building an effective management system is equally dependent on executing a strong planning phase. This article is the second of five that describe how to build such a system in your organization.

Writing Procedures

The planning stage is arguably the most important step in any large-scale project. If you fail to plan properly, everything else will likely follow this failure.

Just as a construction contractor wouldn't dare start ordering materials or pounding nails without a plan, your firm must avoid moving too quickly into the actual development phase of writing procedures that are the basis of an effective management system.

Business Assessment

Using the construction analogy, the first step is typically a survey of the parcel of land on which to construct your building. You'll examine such conditions as utilities, roads, property grade and soil. In a management system development project, we call this step a GAP Analysis, because it articulates what the "gap" between current reality in your organization and your stated objectives. Recall that the objectives and measurable effectiveness criteria were established in Phase I - Discovery.

The results of the Gap Analysis are used as inputs to produce a project plan.

Planning the Project

The Project Plan details the materials and tools that will help management control the project as well set budgets and schedules. Most of us are familiar with the components necessary to manage the conversion of a bare piece of land into the architect's vision: drawings, bids, permits, contracts, work orders, and inspections. But what is required to develop a management system?

Your project planning phase includes producing these components that will greatly ease the Development and Implementation Phases (III and IV, respectively) and make for an overall solid structure:

- Project roles and responsibilities
- Organization chart
- Activities, resources, dates
- Reviews structure
- Status reports
- Document control and format
- Process map
- Compliance requirements
- Training, implementation, testing and audit plans

Review the Process Map

Before concluding the Planning Phase, a review is conducted of each component with emphasis on the process map and effectiveness criteria to ensure alignment with identified organizational goals. This check will help eliminate project drift in the coming phases.

The Planning Phase takes from 2-4 weeks.

Chris Anderson is currently the managing director of Bizmanualz, Inc. and co-author of policies and procedures manuals, producing the layout, process design and implementation to increase performance. To learn how to increase your business performance, visit:

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