Strategic planning is a major success contributor to top companies, and an action plan is its key component. Devising an action plan can help changemakers transform visions into reality and increase organizational efficiency and accountability. Learn how to create an action plan and discover its key benefits in terms of attaining objectives.
What is an Action Plan?
As the name suggests, an action plan is the document or enlistment of the tasks or actions to be completed to achieve the goal. It also provides the steps or small actions that will lead to the target, making it more practical and achievable. They can be assumed as standard to-do lists that state the action or plan to be taken. They may be designed for individuals, teams, members, projects, or authorities.
What is the Purpose of an Action Plan?
The action plan intends to serve the following purposes:
- Provides clarity and direction
- It exactly indicates the work to be done.
- It reduces forgetting, overlooking, or missing tasks.
- Motivates and encourages commitment due to the associated clarity
- It helps to monitor the progress.
- It also helps in prioritizing tasks.
Why Are Action Plans Important in Project Management?
Before diving into how to create an action plan, it's important to understand its importance. Action plans hold importance by providing quick and easy management. They provide a flowchart or overview of what is achievable in a specific time. It generally involves timelines, tasks, and resources required to achieve the goal.
They help the people by increasing efficiency in performance which is further achieved by reducing the mess created due to unclarity. It provides a framework or structure which simplifies the actions, thus playing an important role in project management.
What Happens After You Create an Action Plan?
After the action plans are created, the first step is to circulate and adequately communicate them. Ensure complete understanding by the members and all the individuals following them. Use the right tools to track the progress of the follow-up of the action plan. Progress can also be monitored through meetings and reviews for better schedules and management. It will include receiving feedback for more enhancements in the plan.
How to Write an Action Plan for Project Management in 10 Steps?
Action plan creation can be difficult, especially when it seems similar to a normal listing of steps to achieve the goal, which sounds similar to other plans. Here is detailed information on how to create an action plan.
1. Define Your Project Goals
Goals are the ultimate aim of anything. So, holding clarity on the goals of projects is crucial to design the action plan. It will help in deciding the objectives to be achieved.
2. Define Your Project Objectives
Once the goals are known, the subsequent steps will be easier. It will include what to deliver and complete to achieve a specific target.
3. Define Action Steps
After knowing the objectives, the steps should be specific. These involve the tasks or action items that may be required to perform in individuals or groups.
4. Identify and Prioritize Action Items
This step involves identifying the dependent and independent tasks. Further, make a sequence of tasks and then understand the priority to determine the course of action to achieve the goal.
5. Define Roles and Responsibilities
The present step involves assigning the role and, subsequently, responsibility. It helps hold the people accountable and lets them clearly understand the expectations and clarity on doing the tasks.
6. Allocate Resources
It is the manager's duty and a highly important step of how to create an action plan. It involves allocating all the requirements to employees for smooth functioning and working of the employees. It saves loads of time when things are already provided to work on anything.
7. Set SMART Goals
Ensure the goals follow the SMART acronym. It indicates that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. It will reduce impractical expectations and help deduce feasible goals.
8. Set a Timeline for Your Action Plan
A timeline may not always be followed or provide results. Yet, it gives an idea and mindset that helps get close to the goals. The absence of a timeline will give a free hand, which might encourage carefree behavior.
9. Write an Action Plan Template
Gather all the previously mentioned data, including deadlines, tasks, and assignments. Align them chronologically, and you will have an action plan template ready. It can be further modified depending on the final plan and other factors. The template thus formed will be further used for all future endeavors concerning the project to which action is related.
10. Use a Project Management Tool
The tools provide an overview of what needs to be done and ease of monitoring the progress. The user-friendly interface provides clarity and helps identify the leading and lagging employees. They also provide clarity on metrics and other relevant data concerning the achievability of action plans.
Action Plan Best Practices
Apart from basic information on how to create an action plan, here are some of the preferred and additional steps or actions:
- The actions are to be performed by employees and team members. So involving them will ease the process, save time, ensure familiarity and decrease the unexpectedness of the assignment. It will also avoid conflicts.
- The goals should follow SMART guidelines.
- The plan should be accessible to every individual associated with the project concerned with the action plan.
Tips to Write an Action Plan
Keep the following points in mind for an effective action plan:
- Remember to keep priority in mind while making the timeline and assigning the actions
- Mark the status of each task or action
- Set a reminder based on the status and priority levels
- Ensure active participation in action planning or project management tool
- Discuss and communicate with the members who are associated with the task
Who Needs to Write an Action Plan?
Besides how to create an action plan, here is another important question, who should write an action plan? Action plans are not specifically for anyone. They can be used in general to sort everything. Concerning projects and organizations, they can be formulated by service providers, project managers, individuals, and other employees. On the other hand, they can be made personally to organize and gain clarity on to-do actions. They help track the progress and subsequently reach their goal in a conscious, well-formulated, and timely manner.
Action Plan vs. Plan B vs. Project Plan vs. To-Do List
Lets us talk about the differences between highly confusing and similar goal-oriented plans:
Action Plan vs. Plan B
The action plan is the primary plan that needs to be followed at the beginning. However, after investing loads of energy and still facing the inability to reach the goal, an alternative strategy can be looked into. This is plan B and completely optional. It is a backup plan to use to achieve the goal. Ensure to at least try to be innovative while planning it.
Action Plan vs. Project Plan
The action plan can be individual or project group based, while a project plan is for the team. The project plan encompasses goals and project objectives, roles, financial planning, timelines, communication plan, achievements, and metrics. It is formulated to be followed by the team and clarify their tasks and expectations. Action plans enlist the tasks to be done by the team or individuals.
Action Plan vs. To-Do List
The difference between the two can be understood from the steps followed in how to create an action plan. The action plan is the goal-oriented enlistment of the steps. A To-do list includes all the tasks to be carried out in a day, irrespective of the goal. They include personal actions as well. The action plan will solely focus on the growth and steps to reach the aim.
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