We use cookies.

To make your experience the best it can be, we use cookies and similar technologies on our site. We need your permission to allow these technologies, which will maximise browsing experience. For more information on how we use cookies and how to change your cookie settings, please see our cookies and privacy policy.



Please complete this short form to get in touch with a member of our team and we will get back to you as soon as we can.



Sign up to our newsletter by completing the form below.

Header image for the current page The Integrated Planning Function: Business critical and public sector perspectives

The Integrated Planning Function: Business critical and public sector perspectives

Share this page

The integrated planning function has emerged as a critical component of successful business operations across various industries. But how can this success be transferred to public sector organisations, and what would be the benefits to the NHS?

Effective planning aims to shape the future by setting objectives and strategies, enabling sound operational decision-making within dynamic environments. Industry has long recognised the importance of integrated planning functions, with research demonstrating significant positive impacts on key metrics such as revenue, forecast accuracy and supply planning1.

While the private sector has widely embraced integrated planning, the public sector has often lagged behind, viewing planning as a necessary process rather than a key driver of results. This disconnect may stem from perceived top-down processes linked to national priorities and targets or a view that planning implies control and power to deliver change. However, integrated planning also plays a crucial role in achieving organisational goals and delivering services effectively to the community. Increasingly, government agencies and public sector organisations are recognising the value of integrated planning in addressing complex societal challenges and improving overall performance.

Furthermore, integrated planning allows all organisations to proactively seize the opportunities presented by rapidly changing external factors such as market trends and technological advancements to increase growth and innovation.

Integrated planning model

The integrated planning model consists of several interconnected steps that ensure comprehensive and effective planning across various sectors:

Best practice in public sector planning

The integration of strategic, tactical and operational planning processes can help public sector organisations leverage planning as a powerful tool to achieve their objectives. Adapting business models of strategic planning to the unique political and administrative environments of public organisations is critical to realising the benefits of integrated planning in the public sector23.

In recent years, the public sector has made significant strides in recognising the importance of integrated planning in achieving organisational goals and delivering services effectively to the community. With the increasing complexity of societal challenges and the need to improve overall performance, government agencies and public sector organisations have started to embrace integrated planning as a key driver of results.

Case Study 1: Improving service delivery through integrated planning in Toronto

Historically, the City of Toronto's planning efforts were fragmented, with different departments and agencies working in silos. To address this challenge, the city established a central planning unit responsible for coordinating and aligning the planning efforts of various departments, ensuring that strategic objectives were translated into actionable operational plans. This approach enabled the city to prioritise key service areas, optimise resource allocation and improve overall service delivery to the community. Through the integration of planning processes, the City of Toronto was able to:

Case Study 2: Streamlining asset management through integrated planning in Alberta

The province of Alberta, Canada, faced a common public sector challenge: managing ageing infrastructure and ensuring the efficient use of limited resources. To address this issue, the province established a centralised asset management system that consolidated data from various departments, enabling a comprehensive view of the province's infrastructure assets. This allowed more informed decisions, optimised resource allocation and enhanced the overall stewardship of public assets. By integrating planning processes, the province was able to:

Why the NHS should adopt integrated planning

The NHS faces significant challenges that necessitate the adoption of integrated planning at both Trust and Integrated Care Board (ICB) levels. These challenges include increasing demand for services, financial constraints, workforce shortages, and the need to improve patient outcomes and operational efficiency.

Current challenges in NHS planning

Benefits of integrated planning in the NHS

Integrated planning can offer several benefits to the NHS:

Early results from connected decisions in the NHS

There are already examples of how connected decision-making in the NHS is delivering tangible benefits, highlighting the potential for improved productivity, efficiency and collaboration across health and care systems, at both a Trust and ICB level.

How the NHS can implement integrated planning

To effectively implement integrated planning and address these challenges, the NHS can adopt an Integrated Business Planning (IBP) model. This consists of several interconnected steps that ensure comprehensive and effective planning:

1. Where are we now? – Assessing the current state

2. Where do we want to be? – Defining ambitions

3. Aligning resources and capacity

4. Identifying gaps and needs

5. Modelling impacts

6. Scenario modelling

7. Enabling decision-making

Implementation considerations

The ongoing success of integrated planning initiatives across diverse public sector domains underscores the significance of strategic alignment, stakeholder collaboration and data-driven decision-making in driving positive outcomes. As public sector leaders continue to embrace the principles of integrated planning, they can draw upon these case studies as valuable sources of inspiration and guidance in navigating the complexities of their respective sectors. By leveraging the experiences and lessons learned from these real-world examples, organisations can effectively strengthen their integrated planning functions and create meaningful impacts for the communities they serve.

For the NHS, adopting integrated planning is crucial to addressing its current challenges and ensuring the delivery of high-quality care. By improving resource allocation, enhancing patient care, increasing operational efficiency and enabling data-driven decision-making, integrated planning can help the NHS navigate its complex environment and achieve its organisational goals.


  1. Kepczynski, A., Benton, W., & Gunasekaran, A. (2018). Integrated planning in supply chain management. International Journal of Production Research, 56(1-2), 1-8.
  2. Kemp, R., & Kemp, S. (1992). Strategic planning in the public sector: Approaches and applications. Public Administration Review, 52(1), 81-89.
  3. Greisler, D. S., & Stupak, R. J. (1996). Strategic planning in the public sector: Toward the twenty-first century. International Journal of Public Administration, 19(11-12), 1847-1869.
  4. Stead, D., & Meijers, E. (2009). Spatial planning and policy integration: Concepts, facilitators and inhibitors. Planning Theory & Practice, 10(3), 317-332.
  5. Kidd, A. (2007). Aligning IT with business strategy: An integrated planning framework. Journal of Business Strategy, 28(3), 48-56.
  6. Smith, J., Dixon, J., & Mays, N. (2019). Integrating health and social care: Learning from the NHS. Nuffield Trust.
  7. Naylor, C., Taggart, H., & Charles, A. (2015). Mental health and new models of care: Lessons from the vanguards. The King's Fund.
  8. Ham, C., Dixon, A., & Brooke, B. (2012). Transforming the delivery of health and social care: The case for fundamental change. The King's Fund.
  9. Bardsley, M., Steventon, A., Smith, J., & Dixon, J. (2019). Evaluating integrated and community-based care: How do we know what works? Nuffield Trust.
  10. Berwick, D. M., Nolan, T. W., & Whittington, J. (2008). The Triple Aim: Care, health, and cost. Health Affairs, 27(3), 759-769.
  11. Bryson, J. M. (2018). Strategic planning for public and nonprofit organizations: A guide to strengthening and sustaining organizational achievement. John Wiley & Sons.
  12. Marmot, M., Allen, J., Goldblatt, P., et al. (2012). Fair society, healthy lives (The Marmot Review). Public Health, 126, S4-S10.
  13. Porter, M. E., & Lee, T. H. (2013). The strategy that will fix health care. Harvard Business Review, 91(10), 50-70.
  14. Arah, O. A., Klazinga, N. S., Delnoij, D. M. J., et al. (2003). Conceptual frameworks for health systems performance: A quest for effectiveness, quality, and improvement. International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 15(5), 377-398.
  15. Peters, D. H., Tran, N. T., & Adam, T. (2013). Implementation research in health: A practical guide. World Health Organization.
  16. Hubbard, D. W. (2020). The failure of risk management: Why it's broken and how to fix it. John Wiley & Sons.
  17. Godet, M. (2000). The art of scenarios and strategic planning: Tools and pitfalls. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 65(1), 3-22.
  18. Simpao, A. F., Ahumada, L. M., & Rehman, M. A. (2014). Big data and visual analytics in anaesthesia and health care. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 113(2), 193-197.
  19. Salas, E., Tannenbaum, S. I., Kraiger, K., & Smith-Jentsch, K. A. (2012). The science of training and development in organizations: What matters in practice. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13(2), 74-101.
Picture of Dr Olu Akinremi

Author: Dr Olu Akinremi |

Dr Olu Akinremi brings over 15 years of experience in healthcare, having served in senior leadership roles within the NHS, Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the private sector. In his current role as Value Implementation Lead at Arden & GEM, Olu leads multidisciplinary teams to enhance NHS operational efficiency and deliver tailored solutions that benefit patient care. His expertise in innovation, strategy and planning includes specialisations in research and innovation, benefit realisation and knowledge management.

Olu has successfully delivered Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programmes, leading specialty projects, developing vital relationships with NHS entities and contributing to GIRFT national reports. Olu’s comprehensive understanding of both public and private healthcare systems enables him to implement effective solutions that drive efficiency and improve patient outcomes.