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Everyone knows that planning is an important administrative activity. While it is the most basic of management tasks, in many ways it also is the least understood, the most frequently overlooked, and the activity that is most frequently done incorrectly. What is planning? In many respects planning basically is decision making, choosing the best way to do something from among alternatives.
Food-service managers are involved in planning activity as they consider the broad goals (the purpose or end result) to which food services are directed. Planning broad facility goals must, of course, come first; goals of the food-service operation that indicate its role in the institution are then developed. For example, if a goal of a nursing home is to provide for the health and related needs of patients/residents, the role of food services in providing for the nutritional needs of the residents naturally follows. Likewise, as economic goals of the institution are established, the economic plans for food services must fall within the overall economic restraints of the facility.
Food-service managers also must be actively involved in planning as they get ready for more routine aspects of their jobs. Consider, for example, the need to plan menus, to determine the quality required in food products to be purchased, to assess the quality of items to be purchased, to establish the number of labor hours needed. Surely as today's health-care concerns about DRGs, cost containment, and cost minimization begin to have a more overt impact on dietary services, the need to plan for the most effective use of resources allocated to food services will become more acute.
Simply stated, planning involves determining what to do, how it should be done, when it should be done, and who should do it; in other words, planning helps move the operation from where it is currently to where it needs to be. Only by proper planning can there be assurance that food-service goals will be attained with the minimal expenditure of the limited resources available to the department.
Many principles of planning involve common sense. It is difficult to understand, then, why failure to plan is at the heart of difficulties facing many food services today. Let's take a look at 10 basic principles necessary for proper planning:
Planning Principle 1. Have a clear administrative philosophy. Do you know exactly how food services are viewed in your facility? Is the food-services manager an integral part of the administrative team? Do you know exactly what the goals of the facility are--and what food services must do to help the facility meet those goals? Do you have clearly-defined goals for food services? Are they measurable? Attainable? Is Is there a formalized process to interact with facility administrators to assure that, at all times, the food services goals are in harmony with …