Simply put, an action plan breaks down the steps necessary to achieve a predefined end result and is an excellent tool for personal improvement. It differs from a to-do list in that it is aimed at a single goal, whereas to-do lists usually cover several small projects simultaneously.
An action plan consists of a number of action steps. It provides a step-by-step framework for completing a project efficiently without missing any key steps.
Related: Create An Action Plan Now
Action Plan: When to use one
Whenever you need to plan a project, regardless of size, an action plan will help clarify exactly what is required to reach your end goal.
Identify the objective for your action plan
First and foremost you need a clearly defined objective that is achievable and measurable. Use these three steps to create an action plan:
1. Identify tasks
Identify all of the tasks that you need to complete to accomplish your objective. List them in the order that you need to complete them. You should prioritise the tasks in terms of urgency and/or importance.
2. Analyse and delegate tasks
Now that you can see the entire project from beginning to end, look at each task in greater detail. Consider:
- Do you need to carry out every single step in order to meet your objective?
- Can you delegate any of the steps?
- How long should each task take?
- Do you have the resources to complete each step?
- Can you delegate or outsource any of the actions?
3. Audit your resources
This is where you determine whether you have the physical space, financial resources, staff, equipment, materials, know-how and systems required to complete all the steps in your action plan.
A successful action plan
In order to successfully complete your action plan, all participants need the following character traits:
- Being able to work effectively under pressure
- The ability to complete work to a deadline.
A good action plan
An effective action plan should meet several criteria:
- It should be complete, listing all the steps to be taken.
- It must clearly state who will do what by when.
- It must be current in terms of both market trends and your company’s goals.
Always have a back-up action plan
A contingency plan is a Plan B. It foresees likely scenarios where things could go wrong during implementation of the action plan, and outlines activities that can be completed to bypass these.
Having a contingency plan will enable participants to react proactively to changes in the action plan and deal with them with minimal disruption to the end objective.
Download our Free Action Plan template here.