Action Plan: The Missing Link between Goals and Execution

Action planning is a crucial element of the execution process and facilitates proactive collaboration amongst teams on getting things done. Individuals and organizations can use action plans to attain the objectives that they set for themselves. The action plan is indeed often the missing step between setting goals and achieving them.

We’ve defined seven steps for creating an action plan. Once you’ve been familiar with them, you can utilize the editable templates below to begin preparing right away.

What is an Action Plan?

An action plan is a checklist of the actions or activities that must be completed to attain the goals that you have set for yourself. Major components of an action plan include:

  1. A well-defined statement of the desired outcome.
  2. Tasks/steps that must be completed to achieve the goal.
  3. Individuals that will be responsible for completing each task.
  4. When these jobs will finish (deadlines and milestones).
  5. Resources required to perform the tasks.
  6. Metrics for measuring progress.

By doing these steps in a planned, methodical way, it becomes easy to monitor progress and plan things out properly.

An action plan is not a fixed piece of paper. As your business expands and your surroundings change, you will need to examine and make modifications to match the most recent developments.

Why Should You Have An Action Plan?

Sometimes companies do not spend enough time preparing an action plan before embarking on any endeavour, which always fails. Benjamin Franklin once said, “failing to plan is preparing to fail.”

Planning allows you to prepare for and stay on track in the face of adversity. With an effective action plan, you can increase your productivity and maintain your concentration.

You should be aware of the following advantages of an action plan:

  1. It points you on the right path. You will know exactly what you need to accomplish since an action plan specifies the steps to be done and when they should be finished.
  2. Writing out your goals and breaking these down into phases can offer you a reason to stay motivated and dedicated throughout the process.
  3. You can track your progress toward your objective using an action plan.
  4. As you outline all of the actions you need to take in your action plan, you will be able to prioritize your tasks based on effort and effect.

How to Write an Efficient Action Plan?

Creating an action plan appears to be a simple task. However, there are certain crucial measures you must follow to get the most out of it. Here are seven simple steps for creating an action plan:

Step 1: Define Your End Goal

You are setting yourself up for failure if you are unclear on what you want to do and achieve.

Are you thinking of starting a new project? Begin by determining where you are now and where you want to reach.

Trying to solve a problem? Analyze the problem and think about potential solutions.

Then, make a list of your objectives. And, before you proceed, list your objective through the SMART criteria. In other words, be certain that it is:

  • Specific — well-defined and precise
  • Measurable — include measurable markers to monitor development.
  • Attainable — reasonable and attainable considering your resources, time, money, expertise, and so on.
  • Relevant — fit with your other objectives
  • Timely — having an end date

To make this process easier, use these SMART objectives slide templates. Share it with others to get their feedback.

Step 2: List Down All The steps That You Need To Follow

The aim is simple. What should you do to make your idea a reality?

Prepare a basic template that includes all of the tasks to be completed, due dates, and persons in charge.

It is essential that the whole team participates in this process and gets access to the document. Everyone will be aware of their roles and responsibilities in the project as a result.

Ensure that each task is well-defined and manageable. Break down larger and more complicated activities into smaller ones that are easier to execute and manage.

Step 3: Prioritize Tasks and Add Achievable Deadlines

It’s time to rearrange the list by prioritizing the tasks. Some of them may need to be prioritized first since they may be affecting other sub-processes.

Make a list of deadlines and make sure they are achievable. Before setting deadlines, consult with the involved people to determine their capacity.

Step 4: Set Relevant Milestones

Milestones can be regarded as mini-goals that lead up to the ultimate objective. The benefit of including milestones is that these offer team members smaller success opportunities and help them stay energized even if the ultimate due date is far away.

Remember not to leave too much or too little time between the milestones you select. It is recommended to schedule milestones two weeks apart.

Step 5: Identify The Resources You Need

Before you begin your project, make sure you have all of the resources you need to perform the tasks. If they are not currently available, you should make a strategy for acquiring them first. Sometimes this requires setting up a business case with the appropriate stakeholders.

You should mention your budget as well. If there are any costs associated with each activity, you can assign a column in your action plan to record them.

Step 6: Visualize Your Action Plan

The goal of this step is to develop something that everyone can comprehend at a glance, and contribute.

Whether your action plan takes the form of a flowchart, Gantt chart, or table, make sure it conveys the components you’ve established so far — tasks, task owners, deadlines, resources, and so on.

This document should be freely accessible and modifiable by everyone.

Step 7: Monitor, Evaluate and Update

Take some time to monitor the progress you’ve achieved with your team.

On this final action plan, you can mark completed activities as done to highlight how far you’ve come toward your objective.

This will also highlight any tasks that are incomplete or postponed; in this case, you must determine why and identify appropriate solutions. The action plan will then be updated accordingly.

Are There Any Pitfalls You Should Be Aware Of?

In this part, we’ll go through common challenges you may encounter while creating your action plan and give some practical tips on how to avoid them so you can decrease project risk, meet your budget, and satisfy your customer.

To act on the advice provided here, it is necessary first to recognize the adverse effects of poor planning.

  • Increased expenses
  • Missing deadlines
  • Non-compliance with project criteria and other issues are examples of this.

The ultimate consequence is an inability to satisfy your clients, a poor reputation for your company, failure to meet future business objectives, and paying more to fix issues while earning less.

Now that you’re thinking about the potential pitfalls of creating an action plan, here’s a list of some of the most prominent ones and what to do about them:

1. Wrong Estimates

The first major error a project manager can make is to set incorrect estimations. This will eventually result in wasting time and not having enough resources. It has been demonstrated that inaccurate estimates lead to project failure.

When estimating, take your time. Remember that if you accomplish this correctly, even if it takes more time and work, you will reap the advantages throughout the project’s completion process.

2. Not Defining a Project Scope Beforehand

Aside from defining it inaccurately, another common error is to not define the project scope early on.

The project scope must be specified early on and get feedback from all stakeholders. You should describe the project scope statement, which should cover the requirements. The stakeholders must then approve this to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

3. Limited Understanding of End-user Requirements

Each project has its own set of needs. Studying them thoroughly in advance ensures that you plan properly and never overlook an essential element that may cost you a lot of money in the long run.

Some project managers are prone to rushing through this stage. Perhaps it’s due to a lack of experience or having too much on your plate. In any event, you should make it a habit to go through the criteria for each new project, even if they sound similar, and get input from managers and coworkers before creating realistic estimates and allocating assignments. Sometimes creating user stories is a great way to capture end-user needs.

4. Setting Unachievable Deadlines

Setting unrealistic deadlines is also considerable risk. Unfortunately, we see this quite frequently in the domain of project management.

When you don’t give your staff enough time to complete each stage and don’t allow for unanticipated difficulties or delays, greater blunders might occur due to being rushed.

As a project manager, it is your responsibility to allot exactly the proper amount of time so that everyone works at peace while using the rigour of a defined deadline to keep them on track.

5. Not Managing Expectations

Expectations are yet another aspect that must be managed during the project’s work process. However, if these are not addressed early on, communication difficulties can arise, wasting time.

To accomplish the desired outcome, you must continuously monitor the expectations of the stakeholders and ensure they do not drift away from the defined scope of the project.

6. Inappropriate Role Assignments

Another typical error in project management is assigning unsuitable roles. Knowing your team members and assigning everyone the proper task to work on is just as essential as preparing the project’s budget and setting deadlines.

To avoid this, you must understand who is capable of taking on the responsibility that comes with a specific task. This includes describing the job as clearly as possible and considering whether the person who will complete it must have technical skills, what their communication style is and why that matters, what feedback they’ve given you for previous projects, how they perform in a stressful environment, and other factors.

Furthermore, challenges such as the size of your team, whether each person reports directly to you or a team leader, and the amount to which you can inspire someone to take on additional responsibility should be considered.

7. Not Monitoring The Work Progress

This measure is critical because it helps you and your team to be accountable and productive. The first thing employees require is to commit to their position and follow the rules. They should be provided with reliable data that demonstrates how things are progressing and what remains to be done.

This step, when done correctly, has been found to improve communication, which is an essential element of project delivery success.

Engaging with the team regularly and evaluating the monitoring data is a fantastic approach to take charge of the accountability and ensure that everyone is performing their job. Everyone should report their progress, and then you can all look at the entire picture.

SlideUpLift Action Plan Templates 3 Years Action Plan

Always stay ahead of your competitors and prepare an eye-catching 3-year action plan to achieve your long-term business goals with our 3-year action plan template.

3 Years Action Plan Template
3 Years Action Plan Template

Source: 3 Years Action Plan Template by SlideUpLift
100 Day Action Plan

100 Day Action Plan Template
100 Day Action Plan Template

Source: 100-Day Action Plan Template by SlideUpLift

Business Performance Action Plan

Business Performance Action Plan Template
Business Performance Action Plan Template

Level up your business performance and plan your approach with our exclusive Business Performance Action Plan template.

Source: Business Action Plan Template by SlideUpLift

Wrapping It Up

An action plan is aimed to assist you through the process of achieving your goals. It transforms your vision into measurable goals and steps. It also helps in your ability to remain concentrated and motivated.

Anyone in a company can use action plans, from a single person to an entire department, to help them achieve their objectives.

Perhaps you are going to develop your first action plan, or you are an expert at creating one. In any case, we’d want to hear your thoughts on how you have developed an action plan from SlideupLift. Do share them in the comments area below.

Now you don’t have to scour the web to find out the right templates. Download our PowerPoint Templates from within PowerPoint. See how?

Originally published at https://slideuplift.com on September 17, 2021.

SlideUplift is a utility to help business professionals create powerful presentations using ready to use impactful PowerPoint tools and templates.

SlideUplift is a utility to help business professionals create powerful presentations using ready to use impactful PowerPoint tools and templates.