What is an Operational Plan? (2022 Update)

Mar 26, 2021
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Written by Sydney Rae

As a business it is important to have a clear direction of the tasks and responsibilities you want to achieve. Having a plan in place can not only motivate your team towards your vision, but it can also improve your chances of financial success. An operational plan is like a map that can help to navigate your business towards specific goals, and to overcome the obstacles that may arise along the way.

Article Summary

  • Operational Plan: an operational plan sets out the tasks that a business needs to perform in order to reach a certain outcome

The main point of differentiation to a business plan is that an operational plan will set out your business’s tasks on a weekly basis. Further, a good operational plan will often identify 6 things:

  • 1 – Strategies
  • 2 – Timelines
  • 3 – Budgets
  • 4 – Responsibilities
  • 5 – Performance Indicators
  • 6 – A Back Up Plan

What is an Operational Plan?

An operational plan sets out the tasks that a business needs to perform in order to reach a certain outcome. It is a blueprint of sorts, which will outline your business’s current performance while implementing the management strategies you need to succeed. Different to a business plan, an operational plan will set out your business’s tasks on a weekly, grass-roots basis.

A good operational plan will identify:

1. Strategies

What key actions need to be completed to fulfil the goals you set out to achieve? It is important to detail the specific activities and events you wish to implement in order to reach your objectives. For example, your business may want to execute marketing strategies that focus on product, pricing and market position.

2. Timelines

Set a reasonable ‘due date’ for each goal. Timelines are vital and, consequently, setting goals and mapping out projects within a reasonable timeframe will help you avoid unnecessary and substantial delays.

3. Budget

Is there a budget summary? What financial and material resources are required to complete each goal? A clear and comprehensive budget is a useful way of preventing your business wasting money and resources.

4. Responsibility

Who is responsible for managing or undertaking each action? It is recommended to appoint a project manager to ensure that all tasks will be achieved in a timely manner and within budget.

5. Performance indicators

Indicators show progress by identifying what a successful action looks like. A performance indicator should be specific and measurable. For example, an ‘increase in website subscribers by five percent.’

6. A backup plan

Do you have a backup plan in place in case circumstances change? What is the potential for the strategy to not succeed and how can you manage this?

Why do I need an Operational Plan?

Without a map, or a clear and common direction, your business’s path to success will be more complex and challenging. Thus, the purpose of a plan is to promote business efficiency and team focus. Through sensible planning and the management of resources, a business can grow from startup to success. Not only will a good plan provide your team with a clear picture on how to reach business objectives, but it can provide a foundation as to the allocation of tasks and responsibilities, the running of the budget, and how progress will be reviewed and measured along the way.


It is important to recognise what you need for your business to improve and succeed. To positively influence the running of your business, set out a plan that identifies clear and reasonable targets. Retaining this focus on a day-to-day basis, and continuing to review and amend any strategies that occur, will ensure that your business stays on track towards the goals you created from the outset. If you require legal advice or services tailored to your business’s legal needs, contact a business lawyer.

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