The demos were originally recorded in 1978. In the album's sleevenotes, Numan states that they were deliberately written and recorded in the then-popular punk rock style (clipped vocals, buzzsaw guitar mainly playing barre chords, bass and drums), with the express aim of securing a record deal. Some of the songs on the album (such as "Friends", "Something's In The House" and "My Shadow in Vain") later became the basis for songs on the released debut album Tubeway Army, automated with the synthesizer rock sound which would become the Tubeway Army/Numan trademark.
Numan's record company, Beggars Banquet Records, decided to release these recordings in September 1984, a year after Numan left the label. In the intervening seven years since recording the demos, Numan's career had scaled great heights of commercial success and then waned. His most successful material had been similar in basic form and structure to the demos on The Plan, but had showcased a new synthesizer-based instrumentation instead of the 'punk' sound.
The Plan went on to do moderately well, reaching #29 on the UK album chart. Two months after The Plan's release, Numan issued Berserker, his first album through his own record label, Numa Records. Chartwise, The Plan outperformed Berserker, the latter reaching #45 on the UK album chart. For later CD releases of The Plan, bonus tracks were added such as Tubeway Army's debut single "That's Too Bad" and an early version of the Tubeway Army album track "The Life Machine".