Forward Planning

The process of developing future assortment plans based on historical performance, market trends, and anticipated customer demand.

What is Forward Planning?

Forward planning involves making proactive decisions and taking actions in advance to prepare for future events and goals. It entails setting objectives, analysing potential scenarios, and developing strategies to achieve desired outcomes. It helps individuals and organisations be better prepared, allocate resources effectively, and make informed decisions in a dynamic environment.

How Forward Planning works

  • Setting Goals: Forward planning begins with defining clear and specific goals or objectives that an individual or organisation wants to achieve in the future. These goals provide a direction and purpose for the planning process.

  • Environmental Analysis: A thorough analysis of the current and future environment is conducted to identify potential opportunities and challenges. This analysis includes factors such as market trends, technological advancements, competition, and regulatory changes.

  • Scenario Planning: Different future scenarios are considered based on the environmental analysis. This helps in understanding the range of possible outcomes and preparing strategies to navigate them effectively.

  • Strategy Development: Strategies are developed to achieve the defined goals in the face of different scenarios. These strategies outline the actions, resources, and timelines required to reach the desired outcomes.

  • Resource Allocation: Forward planning involves determining the necessary resources, including finances, manpower, technology, and other assets, required to implement the strategies. Resources are allocated in a way that supports the successful execution of the plan.

  • Monitoring and Adaptation: Forward planning is not a one-time process but an ongoing one. It requires continuous monitoring of progress, evaluation of outcomes, and adaptation to changing circumstances. Regular reviews help to assess the effectiveness of the plan and make necessary adjustments.
By following these steps, forward planning enables individuals and organisations to proactively prepare for the future, align their actions with long-term goals, and navigate potential challenges and opportunities.

Pros of Forward Planning

  1. Proactive Decision-making: Forward planning enables individuals and organisations to take a proactive approach to decision-making. By anticipating future events and trends, they can make informed choices and implement strategies in advance. This proactive stance helps to mitigate risks, seize opportunities, and stay ahead of the competition.
  2. Goal Clarity and Alignment: Forward planning facilitates clarity and alignment of goals. By defining specific objectives and developing strategies to achieve them, individuals and organisations have a clear direction and focus. It ensures that actions and resources are aligned with long-term goals, fostering coherence and synergy across different activities.
  3. Adaptability and Resilience: Forward planning allows individuals and organisations to be more adaptable and resilient in the face of change. By considering different scenarios and potential challenges, they can develop contingency plans and build flexibility into their strategies. This ability to adapt helps to navigate uncertainties, manage disruptions, and maintain progress towards desired outcomes.

Cons of Forward Planning

  1. Uncertain Future: One of the primary challenges of forward planning is the inherent uncertainty of the future. Despite thorough analysis and scenario planning, unforeseen events or changes in circumstances can render the planned strategies ineffective or irrelevant. It is impossible to predict all possible outcomes with absolute certainty, and this uncertainty can pose challenges to the success of forward planning efforts.
  2. Rigidity and Inflexibility: Forward planning involves setting goals, developing strategies, and allocating resources based on anticipated future scenarios. However, if the plans are too rigid and not adaptable to changing circumstances, they may become obsolete or ineffective. In a dynamic and evolving environment, the ability to adjust and modify plans as needed is crucial. Failure to do so can lead to missed opportunities or the inability to address emerging challenges.
  3. Overemphasis on Long-term Goals: Forward planning often focuses on long-term objectives, which may sometimes lead to neglecting short-term needs or opportunities. While it is important to have a strategic vision for the future, too much emphasis on long-term goals can result in overlooking immediate priorities or changes in the present environment. Balancing long-term aspirations with short-term agility is necessary for sustainable success.


Below you will find answers to common questions
How far into the future should I consider when engaging in forward planning?
The timeframe for forward planning depends on various factors such as the industry, the nature of goals, and the level of uncertainty. Typically, organisations consider a strategic planning horizon of three to five years. This allows for setting long-term objectives, developing strategies, and allocating resources. However, it's important to regularly review and update the plan to remain adaptable to changing circumstances.
What should I prioritise in my forward planning efforts: short-term goals or long-term goals?
Both short-term and long-term goals are important considerations in forward planning. While long-term goals provide a strategic vision and direction, short-term goals ensure immediate progress and performance. It's crucial to strike a balance between the two. Prioritise long-term goals to guide overall strategy and vision, but also allocate resources and set milestones for short-term goals to ensure ongoing progress and adaptability.