6 Differences Between Single-Use and Standing Plans Explained

Differences Between Single-Use and Standing Plans Explained

A plan is a course of action proposing a decision, intention, or steps to achieve a goal. For a business owner, this strategic direction is captured by your business plan.

Writing a business plan is vital for business success. However, there are times when you need individual plans to better manage strategic initiatives. These can be broken down into two types: single-use and standing plans.

So, what’s the difference? How do you determine which option is best in a situation? Read on to explore the key differences between a standing plan and a single-use plan.

What is a single-use plan?

A single-use plan, also known as a specific plan, is a strategy used to achieve a unique one-time business goal. It’s designed to address a specific situation or problem that becomes obsolete once the project or task is complete. It’s not meant for long-term use, and its overall use depends on the time it takes to implement programs or projects.

Single-use plan example

Assume your business is exploring the launch of a new product or service. The enterprise wants to have a well-planned event to announce to consumers that the product is on the market. The business’s marketing team creates a single-use plan detailing how it plans to take care of that issue to ensure the event’s success.

When the launch date comes, all the business has to do is follow the single-use plan. The product will have been launched into the market by the end of the day.

During that process, the single-use plan is effective. When that’s over, the specific operations plan ceases to be helpful. It has achieved its purpose and can be set aside.

What is a standing plan?

A standing plan is a comprehensive plan intended for repeated use. It’s created to meet the needs of recurring decisions and actions. It serves as a business’s go-to resource for establishing rules, policies, and procedures for common situations. This planning includes your broad business goals, strategies, and milestones for growth.

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Standing plan example

Let’s say a company wants to improve the customer experience for its product. It needs the right strategy to connect with customers on an ongoing basis and better understand their pain points.

To do so, they establish a procedure to ask customers for contact details when they buy their products/services. Later, they can follow up by requesting customers to rate their experience and provide a short explanation if possible.

That way, they’ll know how a customer felt about interacting with them and if there’s an area for improvement. The same procedure can then be followed whenever a customer buys a product/service. Since this is an ongoing process, it can be included in their standing plan to track long-term results.

Standing plan vs single-use plan — differences explained

In every business venture, formulating short-term and long-term plans is necessary. But how do you know which one to choose? To help simplify that decision, here are the primary differences between a standing plan and a single-use plan.

1. Single-use plans are meant for projects

A single-use plan’s purpose is to accomplish a specific goal, initiative, task, or project. Its contents are project-oriented and result-oriented and can’t be used to run the whole business. The specific plan can’t provide guidance on any other aspect of the business.

On the other hand, a standing plan is intended to fulfill a business mission or strategy and usually doesn’t have a determined end date. It addresses a business’s recurring issues. Its purpose is to offer guidance that improves coordination, promotes effective managerial decisions, and ensures the smooth operation of a business.

2. Standing plans help with ongoing optimization

Mid-level management usually creates both standing and single-use plans. However, standing plans are typically meant to achieve the organization’s primary goals. They lay out standard procedures to continuously improve interconnected business areas.

On the other hand, a single-use plan doesn’t warrant continuous improvement. This is because a specific plan is meant to optimize a project or specific business area. After the project is over, it’s no longer used. You can take learnings from the execution and apply them to another plan, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to immediate action.

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3. Single-use plans are limited in scope

Single-use plans have a limited focus. To execute them, you’ll have to stick to the initiative and time frame detailed within the plan. It may take days, weeks, or months, but the intention is to complete the project. Single-use plans don’t usually apply to other areas of the business.

On the contrary, standing plans can be used across different business areas. They are designed to be useful when resolving various situations. For example, how a company handles reporting to the HR department can be the same for every department.

4. Standing plans are designed to be modified

Standing plans are never finalized. They keep evolving to fit the current state of a business. The business world is ever-changing, and a business has to have room for adapting whenever necessary. If something isn’t working, the business can decide how to fix or improve the situation.

As for single-use plans, they’re created to complete a specific project. They can be altered throughout the course of that project, but the expected outcome remains the same. A budget is an example of a single-use plan that can be changed to fit current needs. If things change, such as prices, it has to be adjusted to reflect the business’s expenditure.

5. Single-use plans should become obsolete

Not every project has a one-size-fits-all approach. When a business has a new situation that needs addressing, a single-use plan must be designed to handle it. Once the project is over and the result is realized, it can’t be used anymore since any other future project will need a fresh single-use plan.

On the other hand, standing plans are meant for common issues that occur again and again. Therefore, when that situation is taken care of, the plan remains valid and will be stored as a contingency plan until it occurs again. If it makes sense, standing plans can also be used continuously for day-to-day business operations.

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6. Standing plans help track ongoing business health

Standing plans unintentionally provide you with an idea of how areas of your business are performing. Since these plans are ongoing, they provide a track record of changes you’ve made, best practices, and financial performance.

As for single-use plans, they can only fix a problem or improve an area of your business that you’ve already identified. Other than fixing what they’re designed for, they can’t help you determine how the business is doing.

You still need a business plan

Every business will likely use single-use and standing plans for specific initiatives or ongoing improvements to a business function. However, these plans are no substitute for a full business plan.

Your business plan is far more robust and useful than these smaller-scale plans. It summarizes how your business operates and includes your business structure, objectives, milestones, and financial performance. It’s a guide that helps you, and anyone else, better understand how your business will succeed.

While this may sound overwhelming, writing a useful business plan can take as little as 30 minutes. Download our one-page business plan template to start writing your own business plan today.

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