An operational plan is an important management tool that is the basis of the sport organisation's ability to provide a well-organised program of training, coaching and competition. The development of an operational plan requires a number of steps over a period of time that can be as much as 3 months of the year. In other words, operational planning must be a significant time commitment for sport managers or members of management committees.
There are some differences between sport organisations in the manner in which the operational plan is developed. For example, some orgnisations cater for team sports and some for individual sports. Team sports are usually seasonal whereas some individual sports may have all year training and competition.
The diagram above indicates the best time of the year for operational planning for a sport club that caters for all year round competition for the membership. The process should start not later than around three months before the end of the year (or season). It is important to consider that the end of the year (or season) is often very busy. It can be cluttered with finals and special events. Therefore sports managers should aim to complete the operational plan four weeks before the season or year end. This allows essential planning tasks to be finalised before the organisation closes down and contact with the membership is lost for a while.
Nevertheless there is a likelihood that the operational plan will require adjustments not only in the last month of the year but also at the start of the following year.
For a sport organisation, the development of an Operational Plan needs to be accompanied a number of plans which need to be completed before the competition cycle begins over: