Business planning for healthcare management Second edition By Carolyn Semple Piggott Open University Press 164 pages £18.99

It is an immutable fact that the old military adage of 'prior preparation and planning prevents poor performance' has never been more relevant than in today's rapidly changing world. So the arrival of Carolyn Semple Piggot's second edition of Business Planning for Healthcare Management is timely and a great opportunity for those who missed the first edition to add to their 'tools of the trade' in approaching the whole arena.

While the book is excellent in many ways, there are a number of omissions and flaws, but even so this is an excellent publication for both clinicians and managers to have on their shelves - and to dip into.

Even taken at a single sitting, with a very clear and accessible style, the book can, and does, take you through all the salient issues when facing the challenge of business planning. Beginning with simple definitions, through an easy-to-use outline of the business-planning process and the challenges of implementation and evaluation, the author changes pace at planning for health improvement.

This is the tour-de-force of the book and it alone would be enough for a recommendation to buy a copy. The case study highlighting alternative perspectives used in deciding which treatments to purchase is revelatory in its simplicity and certainly worth the read.

There are many gems of interest, though unfortunately some of these are hidden deep within the text, and of some concern is the lack of reference to performance management or detail on performance indicators.

Finally, the author runs through the key areas of managing stakeholders, planning for change and the role of the board. All of these are covered in minimalist, but efficient detail, leaving one feeling it could be the launch pad for another book.

Many readers realise the clock is ticking for the NHS and that there is no better time than now to assess, set targets, develop action plans, implement and monitor results. This book will help them.