Planning Tools

Planning Tools

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0173-4.ch014

Abstract

In this chapter, various categories of planning tools are discussed and explained. These tools are proposed to be applied at the different stages of the project. They are applicable to the strategic planning stage and for the monitoring and evaluation stages. As the planning process is dynamic in nature, it is highly recommended to apply different tools at different phases of the project.
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Introduction

Planning tools are usually designed, in the context of power system planning, for utilities and companies to collect information needed in conducting various studies or analyses. For example, planning tools are used to assess customer attitudes and behaviors, and hence help in creating a marketing plan. Or they are used in opinion-based evaluation and comparison of alternatives. These tools can be either qualitative or quantitative. Some well known qualitative methods include: market and customer opinion surveys, depth interviews, focus group studies, and observational research techniques. On the other hand, quantitative methods offer a way to measure the market. These use decision making tools, personal quantitative interviews, different types of surveys (online, emails, telephone), and due diligence analysis. Quantitative methods aim to measure customer perceptions and needs in addition to forecasting quantity.

Planning tools have evolved over time and have become essential for any planning study. Some tools are needed to collect information from its various sources. These include surveys, interviews, questionnaires, opinion surveys, focus groups, projective techniques, etc. Each collection method is dependent on a pre-prepared instrument to be used during the collection function. The design of the instrument is very important and the quality of collected data in most cases depends on the instrument. If the instrument was poorly designed then the collected information will not be adequate to build on or use in making certain decisions.

Other types of tools are related to group thinking in order to reach consensus on a certain subject or issue. These include focus groups, brainstorming, brain pool, gallery method, nominal group, multi dot voting, and 6-3-5 method. In such forum the participants are governed by a predetermined set of rules of conduct during the session. Each session must have a moderator to run the show. Therefore, sometimes these tools are called facilitation tools. The final outcome of such an exercise is that the group at the end will collectively agree on what they have started to discuss. In other words they reach consensus.

Decision support tools are those used in helping an individual or group to reach a decision. In many instances the issue being discussed or studied is very difficult or ambiguous. It needs some tools to clarify it or simplify it in order for the person or persons performing the assessment can be at a position to make certain inferences or decisions. These tools include multivariate, decision trees, trend analysis, gap analysis, analytic hierarchy process, and others.

Analytical tools are tools that are used to give more understanding of certain data or information. They are used by planners to explain some trends or direction of operations, forecast of future events, and expected outcomes. These include affinity diagram, interrelationship diagraph, tree diagram, prioritization matrix, matrix diagram, process decision program chart, activity network diagram, and cause-and-effect or fish bone diagram.

Strategic planning uses another group of planning tools. There are a variety of perspectives, models and approaches used in strategic planning. The development and implementation of these different tools depend on a large number of factors, such as size of the organization, nature and complexity of the organization's environment, and the organization's leadership and culture. In our context of power system planning we consider issues such as decisions related to change management, core business, and power purchase agreements, etc. as strategic in nature. Strategic planning tools include: 1) Boston Consulting Group Matrix; 2) GE Market Growth/Market Share Matrix; 3) Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis; 4) Porter's Generic Competitive Strategies; and 5) Porter's Five Forces Model.

The abovementioned tools are discussed in further details in the following sections.

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