As with so many terms used within the industry, the term 'marketing plan' is often misunderstood. Having charted the stages of the marketing planning cycle, let us examine how this operates in a typical operational or subsidiary company within a multinational group. Thus, the marketing planning process must also consider the possible shape and nature of these variables in the future. The planning cycle needs to be as short as possible and understood by all those executives who contribute to planning. The objective of pharmaceutical marketing planning handbook is to provide a simple, consistent, uniform system that can be used universally, that will cut down planning time and, above all, will produce realistic plans that relate to the market and are challenging but achievable. The planning process, however should be continuous. In some of the smaller companies there will not be as many levels of management as shown, but the planning actions and responsibilities.