What is Hierarchy of Planning? Definition, Components, and Importance

What is Planning Hierarchy?

You may have heard about the hierarchy of management, but do you know about the hierarchy of planning? Let’s define it:

Planning hierarchy is like a structured step of plans in organizations, ensuring coordination and alignment. At the top is the mission, defining why the organization exists. Goals follow, outlining what to achieve, guided by the mission. Strategies chart the path for long-term objectives. Policies provide decision-making guidelines, while procedures detail systematic steps. Rules are specific guidelines for actions. Programs prioritize and organize activities, and budgets allocate resources wisely.

This hierarchy guarantees that every plan, from high-level strategy to day-to-day operations, works together, like building blocks, to fulfill the organization’s mission and goals.

Components of Planning Hierarchy

Hierarchy planning consists of eight components – let’s define each of them:


  • Definition: The mission is the organization’s fundamental purpose, explaining why it exists and what it aims to offer to society.
  • Importance: It provides clarity on the organization’s identity, guiding principles, and long-term commitment.
  • Example: A non-profit’s mission might be to provide clean water access to underserved communities.

Read More: The 4 Approaches to Planning

Goals and Objectives

  • Definition: Goals are specific results an organization intends to achieve within a defined timeframe.
  • Importance: They provide direction for all organizational activities, ensuring efforts align with the mission.
  • Example: An educational institution’s goal could be to increase student enrollment by 15% over the next two years.


  • Definition: Strategies are comprehensive master plans detailing how an organization will fulfill its mission and achieve its goals.
  • Importance: They determine the long-term objectives and resource allocation necessary to gain a competitive advantage.
  • Example: A retail company’s strategy might involve expanding into e-commerce to reach a wider customer base.

Read More: The 5 Methods of Planning


  • Definition: Policies are general guidelines that aid decision-making and ensure consistency with organizational objectives.
  • Importance: They guide employees in making choices that support the mission, goals, and strategies.
  • Example: An HR policy could establish guidelines for fair hiring practices within a company.


  • Definition: Procedures are step-by-step instructions outlining how specific tasks should be performed.
  • Importance: They help employees carry out tasks efficiently and in alignment with policies.
  • Example: A manufacturing company might have procedures for quality control during production.

Read More: 4 Types of Planning


  • Definition: Rules are specific and rigid guidelines that must be followed by all members of an organization.
  • Importance: They ensure orderly operations and are associated with disciplinary actions when violated.
  • Example: Workplace safety rules mandate the use of protective gear in a manufacturing plant.


  • Definition: Programs consist of a set of integrated activities designed to achieve specific objectives.
  • Importance: They prioritize and organize actions, helping organizations allocate resources effectively.
  • Example: A health organization might run a vaccination program targeting specific communities.

Read More: 6 Ps of Planning


  • Definition: Budgets are financial plans specifying resource allocation for various activities within defined periods.
  • Importance: They control expenses, measure actual performance against standards and ensure financial discipline.
  • Example: An annual budget outlines how much an organization can spend on marketing, salaries, and other areas.

In summary, the planning hierarchy is like a well-structured pyramid, with the mission at the apex, guiding all other components. Goals and strategies follow, providing direction and vision. Policies and procedures ensure decisions and actions are consistent and systematic. Rules maintain order and discipline, while programs prioritize activities. Lastly, budgets keep financial resources in check. This hierarchy ensures that organizations move forward cohesively and purposefully toward their mission and goals.

Read More: 10 Steps To Create An Effective Plan in the Organization

Importance of Planning Hierarchy

Planning hierarchy plays a crucial role in organizations, simplifying work and steering them towards success. Here are four important reasons why planning hierarchy matters:

Clarity and Direction

Imagine a roadmap for a long journey. The mission, goals, and strategies are like the destination and main route, ensuring everyone knows where they’re heading. It provides a clear path for everyone, so they don’t get lost or confused along the way. This clarity ensures that everyone in the organization is on the same page, and moving in the right direction.

Efficient Resource Allocation

Think of your household budget. Just as you allocate money to different expenses like groceries and bills, budgets in the planning hierarchy allocate resources to various activities. It prevents wasteful spending and ensures resources like time, money, and manpower are used wisely. This efficiency maximizes the organization’s effectiveness.

Read More: 12 Characteristics of Planning Function of Management

Consistency and Compliance

Consider traffic rules. They ensure that everyone follows the same set of guidelines, promoting safety and order. Policies, procedures, and rules in the planning hierarchy work similarly. They create a consistent work environment where everyone knows what’s expected of them, reducing confusion and disputes.

Adaptability and Growth

Picture a tree that can bend with the wind. Strategies and programs in the planning hierarchy are like the tree’s flexibility, allowing organizations to adapt to changing conditions. In today’s fast-paced world, adaptability is crucial. Hierarchy of planning ensures that organizations can evolve and grow without losing sight of their mission and goals.

Read Next: 10 Principles of Planning in Management

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