Steps in Developing an Operational Plan

Cite this article as:"Steps in Developing an Operational Plan," in The Business Professor, updated July 18, 2014, last accessed December 4, 2020,


Developing an Operational Plan

The operational plan requires a great deal of anticipation about future business activities.  Given that a business product or service may change or evolve over time, it is important to incorporate the potential outcome of effectively carrying out a proposed business strategy and achieved stated objectives and goals.

Below are proposed steps for developing an operational plan:

1. Develop a concept of business operation.

  • Describe your product/service.
  • Identify the key competitive practices and important players:
  • Key Hires, Suppliers, Intermediaries

2. Acquire Necessary Information

  • Obtain Facts from Research, Field Tests, Experts
  • Be Mathematical – Articulate in Formula, patterns, rules

3. Define the Challenges

  • Focus on Major Costs and Expenses
  • Present Achievement Milestones: (6 months, 12 months, 24 months)
  • Show where you will be and what you hope to achieve at that point.
  • Be realistic – Don’t just say you are going to be huge.

4. Build Plan

  • Organize Resources by Logical Functional Categories
  • Present Fact-based Format with Cost and Time Line
    • Ex. Costs
    • Ex. Turn (Turn-over) 20x per year.
  • Convey Tactical Methods (Lots of Math please)
  • Just addition/subtraction, multiplication, and percentages

Developing the Concept of Operations

Developing the concept of operations restates the strategic position of the business.  It involves explaining your business model and how you intend to transmit value to the intended customer.

Acquire Necessary Information

Use the methods previously discussed (primary and secondary research) to acquire necessary information about your operations.  This can be done by studying competitors or like industries. It especially involves communicating with your prospective suppliers, intermediaries, and buyers.

Define the Challenges

From your research, you should be able to identify the key challenges of hurdles for being successful in the industry.  Every industry is unique in this way. For example, your industry may have difficult licensing requirements (professional services), regulations (medical or environmental), competition (established product industries), high barriers to entry (high capital costs to enter), etc. Understanding what barriers exist will allow you to more adequately plan to overcome these hurdles.

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