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Strategy vs. Plan: Key Differences and Applications

March 1, 2023 in Editor Picks

Often, people confuse planning and strategy and use them interchangeably. There is a clear distinction between strategy vs. planning, and we will explain the difference with clear examples for your understanding.

Plans and strategies help you establish goals in the workplace. Whether you are working on a project or preparing for a meeting, a clear set of plans and strategies will aid you along the route. Strategy vs. planning works in different situations and has different ways of working.

Finding significant differences between strategy and planning can be a mammoth task. Through this article, you will gain an understanding of how to use them and what are the distinct features between them.

See Also: What Are The Types Of Growth Strategies? (Complete Guide)


What is a Plan?

Plans are actions directed toward future goals. A plan involves setting up a goal and a method to achieve it. Plans are basically what, how, and why to do a task. 


Plans need the commitment of the workforce, resources, and the organization to be a success. Without planning, the tasks could be a letdown, and the company could face losses.

Planning helps your decision-making by presenting various choices. It helps minimize mistakes by already creating an idea for what to do in the future. Generally, planning is a great tool to reduce the time wastage of you and the organization by knowing what to do and how to do it.

See Also: The Importance & Objectives of Workforce Planning

Types of Plans

  1. Strategic plans: They are long-term plans spanning a few years. In doing this, you try to ascertain the company’s position and market activities. These plans determine the primary goal by focusing on the company’s vision.
  2. Tactical plans: Tactical plans are primarily short-term and create an overview of a strategic plan. In simple words, you back up strategic plans by focusing on completing short goals.
  3. Operational plans: They are short-term plans for around a year. You use them for the daily running of the company and mainly for marketing campaigns or events.
  4. Contingency Plans: Contingency Plans are made and used if an incident or complication occurs in a planned time. They can also be used when something needs to change.

What is a Strategy?

Strategies are techniques to take action towards future goals. They are used for reaching either short-term or long-term goals. 

You can use strategy to guide a company’s decision-making process and the company through business waters. During a crisis, a strategy is a saving tool for the company.

Good strategies are easily accessible and smooth to execute. They originate from thorough market research. A holistic approach is needed to conduct detailed market analysis; without it, formulating a strategy is difficult.


According to experts, a strategy should focus on the needs of stakeholders and markets when preparing resources. Also, a strategy should decide how to combine company resources and capabilities to produce a market edge. 

See Also: What is the Marketing Strategy of Zomato?

Types of Strategies 

  1. Organizational or Corporate Strategy: Corporate strategy focuses on the organization’s objectives and vision. It influences all businesses operating under the company and determines the organization’s long-term goals. The top-level management of a company prepares organizational strategy. 
  2. Business or Competitive Strategy: This strategy focuses on the market competition that a company will face. It tries to establish a strong position for the company in the market for its services and goods. The business strategy includes all the tactics used to compete with rival businesses and how management deals with various strategic problems.
  3. Functional Strategy: This strategy focuses on the approach used by various firm units to attain their goals. It focuses on specific business activities, such as a company’s production, marketing, finance, or sales. Functional strategy is also called a departmental strategy, as each company has different departments with different functions.
  4. Operating Strategy: It focuses on how an organization’s divisions effectively implement the other strategies regarding resources, techniques, and personnel. Operating managers or field-level managers create an operating strategy to accomplish short-term goals.

Strategy vs. Planning

Plan Strategy
A plan is a methodical approach to achieve future actions that need to be achieved. A strategy is a calculated plan with a specific goal to achieve the organization’s objectives.
You require a successful plan to manage people and procedures and coordinate limited resources. If you have a strategy for objective clarification and making adjustments as needed, that would be beneficial.
You may construct a plan by focusing on and dividing it into smaller goals or targets.  You create a strategy by looking at new perspectives to solve a problem.
A plan will take as much time as you require to complete the particular goal. A strategy will take time to implement and goes on for a while.
You will need to only think about the plan. You will need to think and take action for a strategy.
A plan comes after strategy. A strategy always comes first.
You prepare a plan using assumptions. You can come up with a strategy based on real-world factors.
One requires a plan for management operations. One requires strategy for decision-making.
You use a plan for preventing things. You use a strategy for competing.

See Also: What Are The Major Marketing Strategy Elements?


Which Comes First, Plan or Strategy?

A strategy is constantly developed before a plan. A strategy ties together all the components of a plan to accomplish a goal effectively.

A Plan is a Strategy, Right?

Strategy and planning are distinguished clearly from one another. Making a coordinated set of decisions and placing the company in its industry is known as strategy. It generates a long-term competitive advantage and generates higher profits.

What makes a Good Strategy?

A good strategy should see that the problem that has to be solved should be accurately diagnosed, establish a guiding policy to deal with it, and suggest clear measures to carry out the policy.

What Distinguishes a Company plan from a Strategy?

A strategy is utilized to give emphasis and direction to execution so the company can advance toward its goal. A plan, in contrast, offers concepts and a structure for outlining the company.


Plans and strategies are essential for you in the corporate world. Plans and strategies both aids you in accomplishing specific objectives. At the same time, strategy is more competitive than planning in nature, both attempt to make the best use of the limited resources available.

The first stage is identifying your needs, but aligning your procedures to meet them is equally crucial. You can discuss with your company about strategy vs. planning and develop the best strategy to finish your planning with that need in mind.

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Rahul Gupta More posts by Rahul Gupta