This article throws light upon the top six techniques to be employed for preparing checklists. The techniques are: 1. Corporate Planning 2. Organisational Structure 3. Departmental Plans and Objectives (integrated outlook) 4. Corporate Objectives 5. Delegation of Authority 6. ‘Span of Control and Management’.
Preparing Checklist: Technique # 1. Corporate Planning:
1. (i) What are the corporate strengths/weaknesses as conceived by the management for past, present and future in relation to: product price, product quality, market share, distribution network, after-sales service, cost control, finance position, technology improvement, corporate structure and qualities of its members, etc.?
(ii) What are the steps contemplated and taken to win over weaknesses and their time-horizon?
(iii) How is the achievement compared with expectations?
2. (i) What are the opportunities and threats perceived in relation to:
a. Rivalry among existing firms?
b. Threat of new entrants?
c. Threat of substitute products?
d. Threat or opportunity of technical know-how?
e. Threat or opportunity of consumer behaviour shift?
f. Strategy of suppliers, etc.?
(ii) How were the threats overcome and opportunities availed of in the past?
(iii) What is the company’s present posture?
Any contingency planning?
3. What are the facts about internal and external environments considered for corporate decision-making process?
4. What is the status of the products or services and of the corporation (i.e. image before all concerned)?
5. (i) What kind of a corporate profile being anticipated in future (say, 3 or 5 or 10 years hence) from today?
(ii) Do the analytical exercises made in this regard justify such orientation?
6. (i) What were the techniques applied by the management for corporate planning exercise?
(ii) Do the techniques include the following (for example):
1. Group discussions at senior-level managers and analytical deliberations at the Board level?
2. Free thinking not only at the chief executive level but also down the line of managers and key specialists?
3. Coordinating the entire process of management?
4. Technological forecasting?
5. Environmental scanning techniques like
(a) Determination of facts, hypothesis, trends;
(b) Wishful thinking (within a limited time span) of what the company looks like after 5 years (say);
(c) Drawing of scenarios after consideration of various aspects of the environment such as—market conditions, technology, etc.?
7. (i) What are the corporate objectives and goals?
(ii) Are they clearly defined and quantified?
8. Are the corporate planning premises and plans drawn up based on adequate information (as illustrated below)?
Preparing Checklist: Technique # 2. Organisational Structure:
1. Is an organisational chart available and maintained currently?
2. (i) Is the organisation structure sound and effective?
(ii) Does it meet the specific needs of enterprise?
3. (i) Does the organisation structure reflect the programme objectives?
(ii) Does it provide the unity of span of management control?
4. Are the various duties and responsibilities defined clearly and delegated properly?
5. Are the lines of authority clarified from the standpoints of—control, co-ordination, balance and team-spirit?
6. Is there any overlapping or duplication of functions?
7. Can any organisational elements or functions be eliminated? Transferred to other departments?
8. Can changes be made in the organisational set-up to bring about increased coordination of activities?
9. Is there a proper balance between the functions assigned to the key personnel?
10. Is there a lack of co-ordination or co-operation between the various functions?
11. Do the personnel concerned have sufficient understanding of responsibilities and authorities assigned and delegated? Any lack of responsibility for qualitative performance?
12. What should be the steps for increasing the effectiveness of the organisational structure?
13. Does the average employee in the department have sufficient knowledge and understanding of the organisational structure?
14. Is there a provision within the department for regular review of the organisational structure?
15. Is the overall organisation balanced—major emphasis on production/finance, little on marketing, personnel, etc.?
Preparing Checklist: Technique # 3. Departmental Plans and Objectives (integrated outlook):
1. Have definite plans and objectives been established for the department?
2. Are the departmental plans and objectives in harmony with:
a. those of other departments?
b. the enterprise as a whole?
3. Is there a clear understanding of the plans and objectives as to soundness and timeliness and practicability, etc.?
4. Have adequate time and exercise been given by those concerned with respect to forward planning and better ways of meeting the objectives outlined?
5. Is the top management entirely in agreement with the department’s plans and objectives? If not, what are the revisions?
6. What are the points considered by the department? Are they adequate?
What are other points that should be considered to bring about improvement in the departmental plans and objectives?
Checklist of departmental objectives (functional outlook):
(a) Profit-centre Responsibility (General Manager):
1. Volume of sales. (Total? Percent increase? Competition?)
2. Net profit before taxes. (On net worth? On net sales?)
3. Other financial measures, (Costs? inventory?)
4. Product mix. (Major product lines. Percent of total?)
5. Percent of market. (By major product line where available.)
6. New markets entered.
7. Changes in distribution. (Size? Type? Location? Specialisation?)
8. Manufacturing facilities. (Size? Location?)
9. Changes in manufacturing. (Methods? Costs? Performance?)
10. Changes in marketing. (Systems? Methods? Policies? Programmes?)
11. Organisation structure. (Number of major operating divisions? Changes in structure?)
12. Policy changes. (Personnel? Management?)
13. Personnel. (Number of managers? Number of technical personnel? Percent production to non-production?)
(b) Employee Relations Manager:
1. Recruitment of personnel.
2. Development and training.
3. Employee motivation, productivity.
4. Changes affecting employees
5. Continuity of critical talent.
6. Manpower utilization.
7. Manpower planning.
8. Compensation (Equity? Motivation? Control? Understanding?)
9. Safety of employees.
10. Employee benefits.
11. Union relations.
(c) Marketing Manager:
1. Volume of sales. (Total? Percent increase? Competition?)
2. Product mix. (Major product line percent of total?)
3. Marketing costs.
4. Percent of market. (By major product line where available.)
5. New products or product lines. (Services.)
6. New markets to enter.
7. Changes in distribution. (Size? Type? Location?)
8. Pricing Policies. (Related policies.)
9. Organisation. (Structure? Specialisation?)
10. Personnel. (Number of managers? Number in direct selling? Skill shortages?)
11. Personnel policies.
12. Changes in administration or managing methods.
(d) Manufacturing (General Manager):
1. Production capacity,. (Total? Capital required? New locations?)
3. Costs per unit. (Versus competition? Breakdown?)
4. Raw materials. (Sources? Costs? Quality? Ownership?)
5. Quality. (Versus Competition? Level?)
6. Maintenance. (Costs? Programmes?)
7. Materials handling. (Costs? Improvements?)
8. Equipment. (Methods? Layout? Improvements?)
10. Organisation structure.
11. Union relations. (Changes in relationships? Contract changes? Versus competition?)
12. Personnel. (Number by major category? Supervisory quality? Skill shortages? Attitude changes?)
(e) Financial Manager:
1. Financial operations. (Cash/accounts management?)
2. Financial planning (Budgets/profit/taxations, etc.?)
3. Information system. (Type? Management controls?)
4. Capital Requirements. (Projects/Assets/R & D/Operations, etc.?)
5. Changes in equipment, methods. (Systems and procedures?)
6. Business and managerial decisions. (Contribution? Net worth?)
7. Cost of functions. (Production/Selling, etc.?)
8. Financial institutions.
9. Administration. (Changes in structure? New skills? Scarce skills?)
(f) Engineering Manager (or Products Manager):
1. New product development. (Specific products? Products completed pilot test? Schedules met? Budget results?)
2. Product improvements. (Number of products? Amount of costs reduced? Market needs met?)
3. Technical Service. (Volume of Service? Timeliness of source? Revenue generated? Customer reaction?)
4. Consultation service. (Requests fulfilled? Results of consultation?)
5. Capital projects. (Timeliness? Accuracy? Subsequent results?)
6. Administration. (Budgets? Plans? Records? Reports?)
7. Personnel resources. (Recruiting? Training? Compensation? Communications?)
8. Relationships. (External? Internal?)
(g) Production Manager:
1. Production capacity (Shift-wise? Normal/Practical/Limiting? Flow-line matching?)
2. Production planning/scheduling/control. (Facility loading? Priority loading? Work load balancing? Job sequencing? Imbalances? Bottlenecks?)
3. Capacity utilisation. (Rated output/normal output/actual output? Machine analysis? Input-output analysis?)
4. Resources allocation and optimisation. (Men/machinery/utilities?)
5. Production economics and productivity?
Preparing Checklist: Technique # 4. Corporate Objectives:
The objectives of an enterprise are mentioned in the ‘objects clause’ of the Memorandum of Association in the case of a company. The specific enactment of the Parliament or the State Legislature details the objectives in the case of a public corporation.
The objectives behind the establishment of a Departmental Undertaking are laid down in the executive orders:
1. Are these overall objectives clear and explicit?
2. Do the component elements of the enterprise have separate objectives? If so, are such objectives within the boundaries specified by the objects clause in each case?
3. How are these objectives stated and defined? Are they elaborated in writing?
4. Is sufficient flexibility ingrained in the organisational design in the form of its responsiveness to the immediate tasks and alignment to the changes taking place from time to time?
Preparing Checklist: Technique # 5. Delegation of Authority:
1. Have clear lines of authority been established running from the top to the bottom of the corporate enterprise?
2. Have the lines of accountability been established, correspondingly, from the bottom to the top?
3. Is accountability coupled with corresponding authority?
4. Are responsibility and authority in each position clearly defined in writing?
5. Is authority to take or initiate action delegated as close to the scene of action as possible?
6. Is the number of levels of authority kept to the minimum?
7. Are duties assigned to the subordinates’ indicative as to what activities are expected from them?
8. Is authority given to the subordinates to complete the assignments?
9. Is responsibility via delegation of authority created among the subordinates to complete the given task?
10. Are the ‘styles’ of delegation compatible to the organisation structure? That means, whether the degree of delegation is properly balanced between ‘zone of authority exercised by superiors’ and ‘zone of freedom to subordinates’.
Even in one organisation, the ‘styles of delegation’ may vary from one department to another and from one individual manager to another. The quality of delegation refers to the “types of instructions issued to subordinates for making decisions, while quantity indicates the frequency with which these instructions are issued.”
Six Styles of delegation are:
1. The superior persuade his subordinates to accept his decision.
2. The superior presents his ideas and invites questions so as to give an opportunity to his subordinates to get a clear explanation of his thinking.
3. The superior presents a tentative decision to his subordinates to understand their reactions and suggestions, but final decision rests clearly with him.
4. The superior presents the problem gets suggestions and takes his decision.
5. The superior defines the limits and requests the subordinates to take a decision.
6. The superior permits the group to make decisions within prescribed limits.
Preparing Checklist: Technique # 6. ‘Span of Control and Management’:
1. Is it recognised by the corporate enterprise that there is a limit to the number of positions that can be effectively supervised by a single individual?
2. Does everyone in the department or organisation report only to one supervisor?
3. Is the accountability of higher authority for the acts of its subordinates absolute according to current practice? Or, Is it influenced by various conditions, forces, and factors, internal and external?
4. Does the corporate management recognise the following factors that affect span of control, viz.:
(a) Competence of the superior and his subordinates?
(b) The degree of interaction between the units or personnel being supervised?
(c) The similarity or dissimilarity of the activities being supervised?
(d) The extent of non-managerial responsibilities?
(e) The incidence of new problems in his department?
(f) The extent of standardised procedures?
(g) The degree of physical dispersion? etc.
5. Are the related activities and functions combined whenever practical and feasible?
6. Are the activities grouped together:
(a) to obtain the most effective use of men and facilities?
(b) to meet objectives in the best way?
(c) to produce the most efficient and economical operation? etc.
7. Are the responsibilities grouped, where possible, so that the overall control of a function or activity can be established so as to hold the superior accountable?