Action Plan Template & Example
Keep track of steps to take, when to take them, and the resources you need.
What is an action plan?
An action plan is a list – or series of lists – that detail everything you must accomplish to complete a task. Action plans help with project management by ensuring you focus on small tasks and decisions that are oriented toward accomplishing your bigger goals. They can also promote confidence in your ability to be successful and make things happen.
Why write an action plan?
It’s common for organizations to formulate long-term strategies to achieve certain goals, whether for the overall business or for a specific team. But thinking of a goal or strategy and actually implementing it are two different things. Action plans are how you make these goals and strategies a reality.
Many people and organizations use action plans as a framework for thinking about how to complete a project quickly and effectively. They help keep everything in order and ensure that nothing is missed. Because every task is laid out clearly, stakeholders can get on the same page about what they need to do and when it needs to get done.
Who needs to write an action plan?
Action plans are useful in a variety of situations, and can be employed by various different parties in an organization. Managers can create action plans for their teams to lay out tangible steps necessary to achieve a long or short-term goal. Individuals can make action plans for themselves to achieve their individual goals. In short, any time that someone has a goal or strategy but hasn't laid out exactly how you are going to accomplish it, writing an action plan can help.
How to create an action plan
Here’s how you can create your very own action plan:
1. Brainstorm and identify specific tasks
Brainstorm the tasks you will need to accomplish in order to achieve your goal. For many teams, it can help to start at the beginning and work your way toward the end. What’s the first step? Once you finish the first step, what’s the second? Think about timelines and stakeholders, and build in time to iterate and review.
2. List the tasks and identify what’s needed to complete them
Drawing on your brainstorm document, think about how you can work more efficiently. Have you listed a task that isn’t necessary to complete your goal? Is there something that you can delegate? Do you need more resources?
3. Use SCHEMES to double check your action plan.
SCHEMES is an acronym that allows you to verify that you have everything you need to complete a plan. It stands for Space, Cash, Helpers, Equipment, Materials, Expertise, Systems.
4. Prioritize the tasks
With all of your necessary tasks laid out, it’s time to put them in order and prioritize. That means identifying which tasks need to be completed first for the later ones to be possible, and also which are most important and integral to achieving the end-goal.
5. Set deadlines and milestones
An action plan is all about action and getting things done, so it’s crucial to set deadlines for each task and overall milestones for your project. This will keep you on schedule and focused on achieving your goals.
6. Complete each task with the end goal in mind
Remember, the purpose of your action plan is to achieve a goal or implement a strategy, so every part of the plan should be geared towards that. Don’t just mindlessly churn out tasks; complete tasks in a way that will make later tasks easier and that is geared towards what you’re trying to accomplish.
FAQ about action plans
How do I write an action plan?
Action planning simply requires listing each task step-by-step that is necessary towards achieving an overall goal or strategy. Identify the goal, create actionable tasks, and give yourself a specific time frame or due date to achieve each task.
What is a smart action plan?
A SMART action plan is simply a variation of the traditional action plan with a focus on goal setting and creating more actionable and specific goals (“SMART goals”). SMART is an acronym that stands has several variations. Here’s an example:
How do you set goals for yourself?
Setting goals for yourself is about strategically planning what you can actually achieve in a given time frame based on the resources you have available to you. Your action steps need to be achievable and you need to understand when you may need a team member’s help (or some other resource).
Action Plan Template
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