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How to Write an Action Plan (Example Included)
What Is an Action Plan?
In project management, an action plan is a document that lists the action steps needed to achieve project goals and objectives. Therefore, an action plan clarifies what resources you’ll need to reach those goals, makes a timeline for the tasks or action items and determines what team members you’ll need. We’ll define what project goals, project objectives, action items and action steps are later in this guide.
An action plan documents the execution of the project plan; it’s a detailed list of the work that must be done to complete the project goals, including the action steps that are involved in getting from the start of the project to the finish. An action plan is similar to a project implementation plan and it’s very helpful during the project planning and project execution phases.
Not only are you figuring out the action steps and timeline, but you’ll also determine who you’ll assemble for your project team to work on those tasks. This requires robust project management software like ProjectManager . ProjectManager offers multiple action planning tools such as Gantt charts, kanban boards, project calendars and more. Best of all, these project planning views sync with project dashboards, timesheets and workload charts to keep track of progress, project resources and costs.
Action Plan Components
An action plan answers the who, what and when of what you’re proposing. Those questions are answered by the various components that make up an action plan. The following are the basic building blocks of a successful action plan.
- Action Plan Steps: The action plan steps are the answer to the question of what. They’re the activities that’ll lead to achieving your goal. Action plan steps detail what will happen, and the more detail, the better.
- Action Items: The action items are the specific, small tasks that make up the action plan steps. These are the tasks that, when executed, lead to the next action plan step.
- Action Plan Timeline: An action plan timeline is the whole action plan laid out from start to finish. It shows the full duration of the action plan and every step and task is also plotted on this timeline, including their start and end dates.
- Action Plan Resources: Resources are anything needed to execute the action plan. That includes labor, materials, equipment, etc. You’ll want to identify the resources you’ll need for the action plan and attach them to the tasks to which they’ll be applied.
- Action Plan Matrix: A matrix is just a tool to help you determine which tasks you need to complete and in what order. Use our free action plan template to outline the steps, items, timeline and resources you’ll need to get the plan done right.
- Action Plan Report: Once you start to execute the action plan, you’ll need to ensure your actual progress matches your planned progress. To track progress, you’ll want to use an action plan report, which is a snapshot of your time, costs and more over a specific period.
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Action Plan Template
Use this free Action Plan Template for Excel to manage your projects better.
Types of Action Plans
There are many different types of action plans that are used on various kinds of strategic initiatives. Each is similar in makeup but differs in their goals. Here are a few of the varieties of action plans.
Business Action Plan
A business action plan is used to set goals and tasks when you want to start a business or grow an existing business. It outlines the vision for the business and the actions you’ll take to achieve that vision.
Project Action Plan
An action plan for a project is really no different from a general action plan. The only difference is that it’s about producing a deliverable at the end of the plan, whether that be a product or service.
Personal Action Plan
Again, a personal action plan differs little from any other action plan except for the goal. For example, a personal action plan might be for an individual to exercise more. Therefore, the goal might be to walk for a half-hour a day, say, during lunchtime.
Action Plan Sample
Take a look at this sample of an action plan. We used our free action plan template for Excel and filled out some potential marketing tasks, phases and assignees. Download this action plan template for free from our site, and get started on your own plan today.
How to Write an Action Plan for Project Management in 10 Steps
The benefits of an action plan are simple: you’ve now outlined what action steps and what resources are needed to reach your stated project goals. By having this collected in a single project management document, you can more successfully plan out how to execute your project plan.
People get overwhelmed by project management jargon when having to plan out a project, but the word “action” everyone can understand. The fundamentals to getting an action plan together for any project follow these four project planning basic steps:
1. Define Your Project Goals
There’s a difference between project goals and project objectives. Project goals refer to the high-level goals that the project will achieve. Those generally align with the strategic planning and business objectives of organizations.
2. Define Your Project Objectives
The project objectives are much more specific than the project goals. Project objectives refer to the deliverables and milestones that need to be completed to achieve your project goals.
3. Define Action Steps
The action steps are a group of related tasks or action items that must be executed to produce project deliverables.
4. Identify and Prioritize Action Items
Action items are small, individual tasks that make up the action steps that are outlined in your action plan. First, you need to identify task dependencies among them, and then assign those action items a priority level so that they’re executed sequentially.
5. Define Roles & Responsibilities
Now that you’ve divided the work required to accomplish your action plan, you’ll need to assign action items to your project team members and define their roles and responsibilities.
6. Allocate Resources
As with your project plan, your action plan has resource requirements. Having identified your action steps and action items will help you understand what resources are needed for each task and allocate them accordingly.
7. Set SMART Goals
Your action plan needs to be monitored and controlled to measure its performance. That’s why it’s important that you set SMART goals for your action items, action steps and your project objectives. SMART goals stand for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.
8. Set a Timeline for Your Action Plan
As a project manager, you’ll need to do your best to estimate how long it’ll take to complete your action items and action steps. Once you do so, you’ll have a timeline. You can use project management techniques like PERT charts or the critical path method to better estimate the duration of your project action plan.
9. Write an Action Plan Template
Create or use a simple action plan template to collect tasks, deadlines and assignments. This is the place where everything task-related goes in your project action plan, so you have a place for all this crucial information.
Writing an action plan template it’s a great idea because you’ll need to use that format throughout the project. That’s why we’ve created a free action plan template that you can download. There are also dozens of other free project management templates for Excel and Word that can help you with every phase of your project.
10. Use a Project Management Tool
Use a project management tool to keep you on task. ProjectManager has project planning features that help you monitor and report on project progress and performance. Get a high-level view of the action plan with our live dashboards. Unlike other tools, we don’t make you set up the dashboard.
Once you’ve mapped out your action plan, you can use project planning tools to zoom into all the details about your action steps and action items. With ProjectManager, you can calculate various metrics, such as project variance, workload and more. They’re displayed in easy-to-read charts and graphs. Share them with stakeholders to give them updates on action steps whenever they want.
Tips to Write an Action Plan
Once you have an action plan, how do you work with it to run a successful project? Here are some tips to help with implementing your action plan:
- Focus on priorities and what’s due now when identifying action steps and setting your action plan timeline
- When you complete action steps, mark them off
- Have your team members work on one project management platform
- Set up alerts
- Discuss pending or overdue tasks
Action Plan Example
We’ve been talking a lot about an action plan, but let’s take a look at one in-depth. Below, you’ll see our free action plan template . It’s set up for the development of a website.
It’s broken down into phases, the first being the project planning phase , which includes the action steps, market research and the design of the site. You’ll see that tasks are outlined for each action step, including a description of that task, who’s assigned to execute it, the priority and even the status of its completion.
This is followed by the third action step, which is the launch of the site. This is the execution phase of the action plan, but it follows the same format, such as noting the priority, who’s responsible for the work, what that work is and its status.
There’s also a timeline to define the start dates of each of the tasks in the action steps, including the planned hours. This allows you to determine the length of each task and the duration of the entire action plan, from start to finish.
Finally, there’s a place to add your resources. They’re broken down into departments, for example, marketing, web development, etc. Then the materials that are required for each task are listed, including their costs. This allows you to estimate the cost of the plan.
How to Make An Action Plan With ProjectManager
Follow along with this action plan example to see how action plans are typically laid out using project planning software .
1. Map Action Plan Steps Using Multiple Project Views
ProjectManager can help you build your action plan and then execute it. Collect all your action steps tasks on our list view, which does more than light-weight to-do list apps because it allows you to then map your action plan with Gantt charts , project calendars and kanban boards. These robust project management tools allow you to prioritize action items, customize tags and show the percentage complete for each task. Our online project management software gives you real-time data to help you create an action plan and stick to it.
2. Assign Action Items to Your Team Members
Once you’ve mapped out your action plan steps with ProjectManager’s project planning tools , you can assign tasks to your team members and indicate what resources are needed for the completion of each action item. Indicate their roles and responsibilities and set priority levels for each task to ensure the work is carried out properly.
3. Set Action Plan Steps and Deliverables
It’s important to note all the phases of the project timeline to know what action steps and tasks will take place and when. In addition, ProjectManager’s Gantt chart allows you to identify project phases, find the critical path, and set due dates for project milestones and deliverables
4. Track Progress With Real-Time Dashboards
Once you start the project, you’ll need to chart the progress of the work being done. This leads us to the real-time project dashboard , where you’ll check whether your action plan is on schedule and under budget.
Manage Your Project With an Action Plan
Getting a plan together is only the first part of managing a project . Remember, it’s not something to write and put away, but rather it’s a living document that should follow you throughout the project life cycle. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, offers more tips on how to write an action plan in the video below.
Here’s a screenshot for your reference:
ProjectManager’s Action Planning Tools are Ideal for Managing Action Plans
If you’re looking to make an action plan and then take action on it by executing, monitoring and reporting on a project, then you’ll want ProjectManager. Our online project management software lets you make an action plan online with multiple project planning tools such as Gantt charts, task lists, kanban boards and project calendars. Then, you can use timesheets, project dashboards and resource management tools to keep track of progress, time and costs.
Plan & Schedule With Gantt Charts
ProjectManager’s Gantt chart is ideal to map out your action plan on an interactive project timeline that helps you organize your tasks, link dependencies and set milestones. More than that, you can filter for the critical path. When you’re done scheduling your action steps you can set a baseline. This allows you to always see the planned versus actual progress of your action plan to help you stay on track.
Manage Action Items with Kanban Boards, Task Lists and Project Calendars
Once you’ve used the Gantt chart to create a timeline for your action plan, you can zoom into the nitty-gritty details of everyday work with kanban boards , task lists and project calendars. With these tools, you can assign tasks and give teams a collaborative platform to comment and share relevant documents with unlimited file storage and real-time communication features.
Track Progress, Resources and Costs With Real-Time Action Plan Dashboards
ProjectManager’s real-time action plan dashboards sync with all its project management tools so you can check the status of your action plan at any time. You can check on your team members’ progress to see who’s over or underallocated, check labor costs and track whether your team is on schedule.
ProjectManager gives you all the tools you need to create and implement a successful action plan. Regardless of the type of action plan that you need to create, our award-winning project management software makes it easy to do so. Get started with a free 30-day trial today.
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Blog Training and Development
What is an Action Plan & How to Write One [With Examples]
By Danesh Ramuthi , Oct 26, 2023
An action plan is a meticulously structured strategy that pinpoints specific steps, tasks and resources vital to turning a goal into reality. It is extremely useful in any project management.
Crafting an action plan is like plotting a route for a cross-country journey. It’s the strategic map that outlines every step, decision and pitstop needed to reach your ultimate destination.
With a well-thought-out action plan, you’re not just shooting in the dark; you’re making informed, purposeful strides towards your goals. Dive deep with our guide and witness real-world examples that will inspire and guide you.
Need a tool to kickstart your planning? Try out the Venngage business plan maker and explore their extensive collection of action plan templates .
Click to jump ahead:
What is the purpose of an action plan?
When to develop an action plan, 7 components of a actions plan, 15 action plan examples.
- How to Write an action plan?
An action plan serves as a strategic tool designed to outline specific steps, tasks and goals necessary to achieve a particular objective.
Its primary purpose is to provide a clear roadmap and direction for individuals, teams or organizations to follow in order to efficiently and effectively accomplish their goals.
Action plans break down complex projects into manageable, actionable components, making it easier to track progress and stay on course.
Moreover, action plans play a crucial role in fostering accountability and coordination among team members. By assigning responsibilities and deadlines for each task or milestone, they ensure that everyone involved is aware of their roles and the overall timeline, reducing confusion and enhancing teamwork.
Additionally, action plans help in resource allocation, budgeting and risk management by enabling stakeholders to identify potential challenges and plan for contingencies.
Overall, the purpose of an action plan is to transform abstract goals into concrete actions, making them more achievable and measurable while ensuring that the resources and efforts are aligned with the desired outcomes.
Developing an action plan is crucial when you’re looking to achieve a specific goal or outcome. Here are instances when you should consider developing an action plan:
- Start of an organization : Ideally, an action plan should be developed within the first six months to one year of the start of an organization. This initial plan lays the groundwork for the future direction and growth of the entity.
- Project initiation : At the start of any project, an action plan helps to clearly define the tasks, responsibilities, and timelines.
- Goal setting : Whenever you or your organization sets a new goal. Action plans transform these goals from abstract ideas into concrete steps.
- Strategic planning : For long-term visions and missions, action plans break down the journey into manageable pieces, each with its timeline and responsible parties.
- Performance improvement : If there are areas where performance is lacking, whether it’s personal or organizational, an action plan can outline the steps needed to elevate performance.
An action plan is a detailed outline that breaks down the steps necessary to achieve a specific goal. Here are the typical components of an action plan.
1. Objective or Goal
The cornerstone of your action plan is the objective or goal. This should be a clear and concise statement outlining the desired outcome or result. Having a well-defined objective provides a direction and purpose to the entire plan, ensuring all tasks and actions are aligned towards achieving this singular aim.
2. Tasks or Actions
Once the objective is set, the next step is to list down the specific tasks or actions required to achieve this goal. These tasks should be broken down into detailed steps, ensuring no essential activity is overlooked. The granularity of these tasks can vary based on the complexity of the goal.
3. Set deadline
For each task or action, set a realistic and achievable deadline. This timeline ensures that the plan stays on track and that momentum is maintained throughout the execution. It also allows for monitoring progress and identifying potential delays early.
4. Resources needed to complete the project
It’s crucial to recognize and list the resources you’ll need to complete the tasks. This can encompass financial resources, human resources, equipment, technological tools or any other assets. Identifying these early ensures that there are no bottlenecks during execution due to a lack of necessary resources.
5. Person responsible
Assign a person or a team for each task. This designation ensures accountability and clarity. When individuals are aware of their responsibilities, it reduces overlap, confusion and ensures that every task has someone overseeing its completion.
6. Potential barriers or challenges
Every plan will face challenges. By anticipating potential barriers or obstacles, you can be better prepared to address them. This proactive approach ensures smoother execution and less reactionary problem-solving.
7. Measurement of key performance indicators (KPIs)
Determine how you’ll measure the success of each task or the plan overall. KPIs are tangible metrics that allow you to gauge progress and determine whether you’re moving closer to your goals and objectives. They offer a quantifiable means to evaluate success.
Action plans serve as blueprints, guiding the steps and resources needed to achieve a specific goal.
They come in various formats, tailored to different scenarios and objectives. Here, we present a range of action plan examples that cater to diverse purposes and situations.
From business strategies to simple task lists, these examples illustrate the versatility and importance of well-structured planning.
Business action plan example
A business action plan is essentially a strategy roadmap, meticulously tailored for realizing broader business objectives. By crafting a solid action plan, businesses can channel their resources, manpower and strategies in a direction that harmonizes with their larger vision.
Key to this plan is the identification and alignment of steps that resonate with the company’s comprehensive strategy, ambitions of growth and aspirations for operational enhancements.
While this might entail a myriad of specific steps based on unique business goals, some common elements include setting clear key performance indicators (KPIs), undertaking a thorough SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to grasp the current business landscape and establishing a timeline to keep track of progress.
Furthermore, allocating responsibilities to team members or individuals ensures that every aspect of the strategy has a dedicated focus. Budgeting, essential to the success of the action plan, ensures that every initiative is financially viable and sustainable.
Regular reviews and iterations based on feedback and changing market dynamics keep the action plan agile and relevant.
Related: 5 Steps to Create an Actionable Employee Development Plan [with Templates & Examples]
Company action plan example
A comprehensive company action plan serves as the strategic linchpin, ensuring a coherent and coordinated approach to realizing organizational goals. Central to this plan is the incorporation of rigorous market research and analysis, which provides insights into consumer behaviors, market trends and potential opportunities.
Equally vital is the focus on product development and procurement, ensuring that the offerings align with market demands and stand out in terms of quality and relevance.
Alongside, adept legal and financial management safeguards the company’s interests, ensuring compliance with regulations and prudent fiscal oversight.
Moreover, the essence of any successful company action plan lies in its sales and marketing strategies. These define how the products or services are positioned and promoted in the market, ensuring visibility and engagement with the target audience.
However, while acquisition is crucial, retention plays an equally significant role. Hence, impeccable customer service and nurturing relationships become indispensable components, fostering loyalty and ensuring that clients remain ambassadors for the brand long after the initial transaction.
Related: 30+ Project Plan Examples to Visualize Your Strategy (2023)
Sales action plan example
A well-structured sales action plan serves as the backbone for systematic and efficient progress. Central to this plan is the identification and utilization of the most effective sales channels, whether they are direct, online or through third-party avenues.
Clarity on the products and services on offer, combined with their unique selling propositions, facilitates tailored and resonant sales pitches.
Budget considerations ensure that resources are judiciously allocated, balancing the act between expenditures and potential returns. This financial prudence is complemented by setting realistic sales projections, which act as both a motivational target and a yardstick for success.
Timelines, or proposed deadlines, infuse the process with a sense of urgency, ensuring that the momentum of the sales drive is maintained.
However, the true measure of the action plan’s efficacy lies in its key performance indicators (KPIs). These metrics, be it lead conversion rates or customer retention figures, serve as tangible markers, highlighting the plan’s strengths and signaling areas that might require recalibration to increase sales.
Corrective action plan example
The essence of a corrective action plan lies in its meticulous structure, tailored to address and rectify deviations or inefficiencies identified within an organization. At its core, each action item serves as a focal point, detailing specific areas or processes that require intervention.
Accompanying each action item is a clear description that provides a comprehensive understanding of the issue at hand.
However, merely identifying a problem isn’t enough; delving deep into its origins through root cause analysis ensures that solutions target the fundamental issues, rather than just addressing superficial symptoms.
This analysis then paves the way for defining the corrective action, a tangible step or series of steps designed to mitigate the identified problem and prevent its recurrence.
Besides, to ensure the plan’s effectiveness, assigning a responsible person to each action item is paramount. This individual or team is entrusted with the task’s execution, ensuring accountability and focus.
The status of each action keeps stakeholders informed about the progress, be it in the planning phase, ongoing, or completed.
Lastly, setting a due date for each corrective action introduces a sense of urgency and purpose, ensuring that issues are addressed in a timely manner, minimizing disruptions and maximizing operational efficiency.
Simple action plan example
A simple action plan strips away the layers of complexity, offering a concise and direct approach to achieving a goal or addressing an issue. This type of plan is characterized by its straightforward structure, devoid of extraneous details, yet powerfully effective in its clarity.
It is specifically designed for tasks or objectives that don’t necessitate elaborate strategies or multi-layered approaches.
The core components of a simple action plan usually include a clear statement of the task or objective at hand, followed by a sequence of actions or steps to be taken.
Each step is described succinctly, ensuring that anyone involved has a clear understanding of what is expected. Responsibilities are defined clearly, with each task allocated to an individual or a team, ensuring accountability. Timelines might be integrated, providing a clear framework for completion, even if they’re just broad milestones.
Regular check-ins or assessments, although minimal, might be incorporated to monitor progress.
The beauty of a simple action plan lies in its agility and adaptability, making it particularly suited for individual projects, short-term tasks or situations where a rapid response is required.
How to write an action plan?
Creating an effective action plan is a foundational step towards turning aspirations into tangible results. It provides a clear roadmap, ensuring that each step taken aligns with the overall objective.
Whether you’re aiming to enhance a business process or achieve a personal goal, a well-drafted action plan can be your guiding light. Here’s key steps on how you can craft one:
- Step 1: Establish SMART goals: Initiating with a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound ensures you have a clear and focused endpoint in sight. Smart goals serves as the cornerstone for your entire strategic blueprint.
- Step 2: Determine necessary tasks: Decompose your overarching objective into smaller, actionable tasks. This modular approach not only makes the mission less daunting but also provides a sequential pathway to goal attainment.
- Step 3: Assign essential resources: Depending on the tasks at hand, designate necessary resources, be they human, financial or technological. This ensures that every activity has the backing it needs for successful execution.
- Step 4: Prioritize tasks by importance: Not all tasks hold equal weight. Determine the hierarchy of tasks based on their impact on the goal and their time sensitivity. This allows for a systematic progression.
- Step 5: Outline timelines and key markers: With tasks in hand, set clear deadlines for each. Introduce milestones, which act as periodic check-ins, ensuring you’re on track and allowing for celebrations of smaller victories.
- Step 6: Oversee and modify your strategy blueprint: As you progress, there will invariably be learnings and challenges. Regularly review your plan to make necessary adjustments, ensuring its relevance and effectiveness.
- Step 7: Consider ready-to-use templates: If starting from scratch feels overwhelming, lean on structured templates to guide your planning. There’s plenty of business plan softwares and platforms such as Venngage that offer a plethora of action plan templates , tailored to various needs, which can significantly streamline the process.
An action plan is more than just an action steps, it’s a strategic blueprint that bridges the gap between aspirations and realizations.
Through this comprehensive guide, I’ve walked you through the purpose, ideal timings, core components, and practical examples of action plans across various domains.
Leveraging tools of project management, you can track progress, assign tasks and ensure every team member stays on the same page.
It’s not just about setting goals, but about strategically planning every step, ensuring tasks completed align with the larger project goals.
Remember, success isn’t just about having goals but about charting the right course to achieve them
And if you’re looking to supercharge your planning efforts, don’t miss out on the Venngage business plan maker.
Dive into their extensive collection of action plan templates and make your strategic planning both efficient and effective.
Small Business Trends
What is an action plan and how to create one + an example.
An action plan is an organized list of steps that you can take to reach a desired goal. Creating an action plan requires carefully considering resources, goals, and available time. With a well-structured action plan, you can reach your goals in the most efficient way possible. Here’s how to create an action plan – plus some helpful examples and time-saving tips to guide you during your strategic planning process.
Table of Contents
What is an Action Plan?
At one point or another, you may have a task that seems larger than life. But an action plan helps.
In essence, an action plan is a systematic, detailed blueprint, or a comprehensive document, that lays out the strategy to achieve a certain goal or set of goals. It’s similar to a roadmap, providing clear directions on how you can move from your current status to your desired state.
The concept of an action plan is not limited to any specific domain, making it a versatile tool. It can be applied in various fields such as business, education, project management, personal growth, healthcare, and so forth.
A well-crafted action plan typically encompasses several elements:
- Objective: The objective is the ultimate goal that you aim to achieve. It needs to be clear and precise. This is the “destination” you’re striving to reach, so it’s vital to define it in a way that leaves no room for ambiguity. Often, the SMART framework (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) is used to frame these objectives.
- Steps or Tasks: Once the goal is set, the next stage is to break it down into smaller, manageable steps or tasks. Each task should be straightforward, feasible, and should contribute directly to the attainment of the ultimate goal. For example, when you break down a large project into smaller, manageable tasks, it keeps you on track to success, and makes staying motivated in business easier during tough projects.
Small Business Deals
- Resources: For each task, you should also identify the necessary resources. These can be physical resources, such as equipment or materials, or human resources, like specific skills or personnel. By identifying these upfront, you can better plan and mitigate potential bottlenecks.
- Timeline: It’s also crucial to set a timeline for each task, which includes a start and an end date. This not only instills a sense of urgency but also helps to track progress over time. A well-planned schedule can also prevent tasks from overlapping or clashing.
- Responsibility Assignment: Each task needs a responsible person or team who will see it through to completion. Defining this ensures accountability and prevents tasks from being overlooked.
- Contingency Plan: Despite the best of planning, unforeseen circumstances may arise. Having a contingency plan prepares you for such scenarios, ensuring that your plan remains robust and flexible.
- Tracking and Evaluation: An important aspect of an action plan is tracking progress and evaluating outcomes. This step is essential as it allows you to adjust your plan as needed, based on the performance of each task or changing circumstances.
Creating an Effective Action Plan
Creating an effective action plan is an integral part of achieving any goal. In the following video, Brian Tracy, a well-known speaker and author in the field of self-development, outlines his method for formulating such a plan. Tracy’s process, built from years of experience, provides clear and practical steps that can be applied to any project or objective.
Do I Need an Action Plan?
Everyone who has set business goals should strive for effective business planning . Without an action plan, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed by significant goals or lose sight of what perspectives should guide the decision-making process. Having an organized, realistic plan is how to stay motivated and stay focused on reaching success.
This is especially true for larger companies that are trying to navigate complex projects or launch multiple initiatives at the same time. An action plan can help them stay organized, track project progress, anticipate potential challenges, and simplify hiring .
Smaller businesses can also benefit from having an action plan, as it will provide a road map for scaling up operations in the future. An effective action plan should include strategies, resources, timelines, revenue targets , and measures of success. The business budget and cash flow should always be taken into account when creating an action plan.
Why Your Business Should Have an Action Plan
Every business should have an action plan as it’s essential to success and keeping your company on track. Here are five reasons your business needs one:
- Clarity of Purpose: An action plan lets everyone in your company know exactly what they need to accomplish, so they can stay focused and productive. Set call-to-action examples and performance expectations so everyone knows what to strive for.
- Measurable Results: Having specific goals and a timeline helps you keep track of your progress, see what’s working, and adjust plans when needed.
- Achievable Goals: Action plans make sure that you don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic objectives. Outline steps for success in manageable pieces.
- Effective Use of Resources : An action plan helps you prioritize tasks and resources, so you can get the best return on investment (ROI). Public relations strategies and campaigns are two common examples.
- Increased Accountability: By clearly defining roles, responsibilities, deadlines, and expectations, everyone involved is more accountable for their tasks and the success of the project overall.
How to Write an Action Plan
An effective action plan operates as a guiding light, leading the way towards achieving specific objectives, milestones, and goals. For any project or substantial task, it can be the pivotal element that swings the balance between success and failure.
To make the process of creating an action plan easier, we’ve provided a summary table below. This table functions like a checklist, outlining clear steps and eliminating any confusion about what needs to be done next.
Having this overview can be a great starting point, but a deeper understanding of each step will further assist you in crafting a robust action plan. So let’s get started and explore each of these steps in more detail.
Step 1: Define the goal
Defining project goals is a critical first step in the action-planning process. It involves establishing a clear and concise objective that guides the rest of the plan. A well-defined goal serves as a roadmap for the team, providing direction and focus for their efforts. It also helps to keep everyone aligned and on track, ensuring that the plan is executed effectively.
To define a goal effectively, it is important to consider several key factors. First, the goal should be specific, meaning that it should clearly state what is to be achieved. Second, it should be measurable, allowing for progress to be tracked and evaluated.
Third, it should be attainable, meaning that it should be realistic and achievable given the available resources and constraints. Fourth, the goal should be relevant and aligned with the organization’s overall strategy and goals. Finally, it should have a specific timeline, with deadlines established to ensure that the goal is achieved within a reasonable period of time.
Step 2: Project management – Identify the necessary actions
This step outlines the specific tasks and activities that need to be performed in order to achieve the defined goal. It involves breaking down the goal into smaller, manageable steps and determining what needs to be done to accomplish each step. The actions should be specific, measurable, and have clear deliverables.
Project management plays a vital role in this step, as it helps to ensure that the necessary actions are planned and executed effectively. Project managers use a variety of tools and techniques to identify the necessary actions, such as creating a work breakdown structure, creating a project schedule, and identifying project dependencies.
They also work closely with the team to ensure that the necessary resources are available, that risks are identified and managed, and that progress is tracked and reported. Using project management best practices, the team can ensure that the necessary actions are performed efficiently and effectively and that the project remains on track and on schedule.
Step 3: Assign tasks and responsibilities to project managers and any person responsible
Assigning tasks and responsibilities is a key step in the action planning process, as it ensures that all the tasks have a designated person responsible for their completion. This step involves identifying who will be responsible for each of the necessary actions identified in the previous step and assigning ownership for the delivery of each task. It is important to ensure that responsibilities are clearly defined and that each person understands their role and what is expected of them.
Project managers play a central role in assigning responsibilities, as they are responsible for ensuring that the right person is assigned to each task. They work closely with team members to understand their strengths, skills, and availability, and make assignments based on this information.
They may also assign backup resources to ensure the team can complete tasks even if the primary person responsible is unavailable. It is important to remember that assigning responsibilities is a collaborative process, and that team members should have the opportunity to provide input and feedback. Employ team building exercises to promote teamwork, and provide streamlined methods for employees to communicate with managers and decision makers.
Step 4: Determine the timeline and deadlines
This step involves creating a timeline that outlines when each task should start and finish, and when milestones should be reached. The timeline should be based on the scope of the project, the availability of resources, and any other constraints. Use a calendar or gannt chart to outline the exact schedule for each step.
Having a clear timeline and deadlines helps to keep the project on track and ensures that tasks are completed in a timely manner. It also provides a clear visual representation of the project’s progress and helps to identify any potential issues or delays.
Deadlines also help to keep team members accountable and focused, as they know when they need to have their tasks completed. Deadlines also help to prioritize tasks and ensure that the most important work is completed first.
Step 5: Establish a system for monitoring progress
Establishing a system for monitoring progress provides a way to track the project’s progress and identify any issues or challenges that may arise. This step involves implementing tools, processes, and metrics that can be used to measure the project’s progress against the timeline and goals. The system for monitoring progress should be simple, efficient, and easy to use.
Having a system for monitoring progress is important for several reasons. First, it provides real-time visibility into the project’s progress, allowing the project manager and team to quickly identify any issues or challenges that may arise.
Second, it helps to keep everyone accountable and focused, as team members know that their work will be monitored and evaluated. Third, it allows for continuous improvement, as the project manager can use the data and metrics collected to identify areas for improvement and make adjustments as needed.
Step 6: Track progress, evaluate, and adjust as necessary
Evaluating and adjusting as necessary is a critical step in the action planning process, as it provides a way to ensure that the project remains on track and is executed effectively.
This step involves regularly reviewing the actual progress of the project and making any necessary adjustments to the plan, timeline, and actions. The evaluation should be based on the system for monitoring progress that was established in a previous step.
Tracking progress is an important part of this step, as it provides the data and metrics needed to evaluate the project’s progress and identify any areas for improvement. The project manager should use the system for monitoring progress to track key metrics, such as task completion rates, timeline progress, and resource utilization. This information can then be used to assess the project’s progress against the goals and timeline and to identify any areas for improvement.
By evaluating and adjusting as necessary, the project manager can ensure that the project remains on track and is executed effectively. This helps to minimize disruptions and delays and ensures that the project stays aligned with the goals and objectives.
The process of evaluating and adjusting should be continuous, with regular evaluations and progress reviews. This allows the project manager to respond quickly to any changes or challenges that may arise, and to make any necessary adjustments to keep the project moving forward. For example, you may need to employ some time saving tips or delegate to get back on schedule. Alternatively, you may need to try some new call to action examples to more effectively impact customer behavior to meet your goals.
Plan of Action Example (Template)
A well-structured action plan helps to keep the project on track and on schedule providing a clear path to success. Here’s an action plan template example you can use to inspire you for your own projects:
I. Define the goal:
A. Objective: Launch a new product line
B. SMART Goal: To launch a new product line in 6 months, generating $500,000 in revenue within the first year.
II. Identify necessary actions:
A. Conduct market research to determine the target audience and demand
B. Develop product prototypes and conduct testing
C. Create marketing materials and promotional campaigns
D. Set up the supply chain and logistics
E. Launch product through digital and physical channels
III. Assign responsibilities:
A. Market research: Marketing team
B. Product development: R&D team
C. Marketing plan , materials, and campaigns: Marketing team
D. Supply chain and logistics: Operations team
E. Product launch: Marketing and Operations teams
IV. Determine timeline and deadlines:
A. Market research: Month 1-2
B. Product development: Month 2-4
C. Marketing materials and campaigns: Month 4-5
D. Supply chain and logistics: Month 5-6
E. Product launch: Month 6
V. Establish a system for monitoring progress:
A. Key metrics: Revenue, market share, customer satisfaction
B. Tools: Project management software, weekly progress meetings
C. Progress review meetings: Every 2 weeks
VI. Evaluate and adjust as necessary:
A. Regularly review revenue and customer satisfaction data
B. Adjust marketing strategy and promotions as necessary
C. Monitor supply chain and logistics, and make adjustments as needed
D. Evaluate timeline and deadlines, and adjust as necessary to ensure a timely product launch.
Tips for Building a Fantastic Action Plan
Building an action plan is the first step to reaching your business goals. Here are five tips for creating a fantastic action plan:
- Be Clear & Specific: Make sure that everyone involved in the project understands what needs to be done and when it needs to be completed. Set measurable and achievable targets, with specific timelines and deadlines.
- Prioritize Tasks: Identify which tasks should take priority so you can focus on what’s important right now, while still having a plan for the future.
- Start Small: Break large projects down into smaller components that you can do in stages, rather than trying to accomplish everything at once. Team-building exercises are a great way to keep energy and motivation high.
- Outline Resources Needed: Research ahead of time what resources will be needed for each task and make sure you have everything in place beforehand.
- Include Room for Change: The reality is that things don’t always go as planned so be prepared to adjust timelines or objectives as needed along the way.
Action Plan Vs To-Do List
Action plans and to-do lists may seem similar at first glance, but they are two different tools that serve specific purposes. An action plan is an organized approach to achieving a goal. It helps you break down larger tasks into smaller, manageable pieces and outlines the steps you need to take in order to reach your objectives.
A to-do list is a tool used to keep track of day-to-day tasks or items that need attention. It’s typically used as a checklist for getting things done in a certain timeframe. While both can be helpful when it comes to staying organized and productive, action plans offer a more comprehensive approach to reaching longer-term goals.
Action Plan Vs Project Plan
An action plan and a project plan are both tools used to help maintain organization and productivity when working toward a specific goal. Action plans focus on smaller tasks that need to be completed and prioritize them in an organized list.
Project plans are more comprehensive, providing an overview of all the steps required for completing a particular project. They usually include timelines, deadlines, resources needed, and other specifics. While action plans can help define the daily tasks necessary for completing a project, they should ultimately be formulated as part of the larger project plan.
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What is an Action Plan? Learn with Templates and Examples
Planning on turning your vision into reality? And what’s your best way to avoid challenges and problems during this journey? A solid action plan.
We have outlined 6 steps explaining how to write an action plan. Once you familiarize yourself with them, go ahead and use the editable templates below to start planning right away.
What is an Action Plan?
Why you need an action plan, how to write an action plan, action plan templates.
An action plan is a specific list of tasks in order to achieve a particular goal. It can be regarded as a proposed strategy to execute a specific project to achieve a specific or general goal effectively and efficiently. It outlines steps to take and helps stay focused and organized, whether it’s personal or work-related. Breaking down the goal into smaller, manageable steps, makes it easier to stay motivated and track progress.
It’s an essential part of the strategic planning process and helps with improving teamwork planning Not only in project management, but action plans can be used by individuals to prepare a strategy to achieve their own personal goals as well.
Components of an action plan include
- A well-defined description of the goal to be achieved
- Tasks/ steps that need to be carried out to reach the goal
- People who will be in charge of carrying out each task
- When will these tasks be completed (deadlines and milestones)
- Resources needed to complete the tasks
- Measures to evaluate progress
What’s great about having everything listed down on one location is that it makes it easier to track progress and effectively plan things out.
An action plan is not something set in stone. As your organization grows, and surrounding circumstances change, you will have to revisit and make adjustments to meet the latest needs.
Sometimes businesses don’t spend much time on developing an action plan before an initiative, which, in most cases, leads to failure. If you haven’t heard, “failing to plan is planning to fail” said Benjamin Franklin supposedly once.
Planning helps you prepare for the obstacles ahead and keep you on track. And with an effective action plan, you can boost your productivity and keep yourself focused.
Here are some benefits of an action plan you should know;
- It gives you a clear direction. As an action plan highlights exactly what steps to be taken and when they should be completed, you will know exactly what you need to do.
- Having your goals written down and planned out in steps will give you a reason to stay motivated and committed throughout the project.
- With an action plan, you can track your progress toward your goal.
- Since you are listing down all the steps you need to complete in your action plan, it will help you prioritize your tasks based on effort and impact.
From the looks of it, creating an action plan seems fairly easy. But there are several important steps you need to follow with caution in order to get the best out of it. Here’s how to write an action plan explained in 6 easy steps.
Step 1: Define your end goal
If you are not clear about what you want to do and what you want to achieve, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Planning a new initiative? Start by defining where you are and where you want to be.
Solving a problem? Analyze the situation and explore possible solutions before prioritizing them.
Then write down your goal. And before you move on to the next step, run your goal through the SMART criteria . Or in other words, make sure that it is
- Specific – well-defined and clear
- Measurable – include measurable indicators to track progress
- Attainable – realistic and achievable within the resources, time, money, experience, etc. you have
- Relevant – align with your other goals
- Timely – has a finishing date
Use this SMART goal worksheet to simplify this process. Share it with others to get their input as well.
And refer to our easy guide to the goal-setting process to learn more about setting and planning your goals.
Step 2: List down the steps to be followed
The goal is clear. What exactly should you do to realize it?
Create a rough template to list down all the tasks to be performed, due dates and people responsible.
It’s important that you make sure that the entire team is involved in this process and has access to the document. This way everyone will be aware of their roles and responsibilities in the project.
Make sure that each task is clearly defined and is attainable. If you come across larger and more complex tasks, break them down to smaller ones that are easier to execute and manage.
Tips: Use a RACI Matrix template to clarify project roles and responsibilities, and plan projects
Step 3: Prioritize tasks and add deadlines
It’s time to reorganize the list by prioritizing the tasks . Some steps, you may need to prioritize as they can be blocking other sub-steps.
Add deadlines, and make sure that they are realistic. Consult with the person responsible for carrying it out to understand his or her capacity before deciding on deadlines.
Step 4: Set milestones
Milestones can be considered mini goals leading up to the main goal at the end. The advantage of adding milestones is that they give the team members to look forward to something and help them stay motivated even though the final due date is far away.
Start from the end goal and work your way back as you set milestones . Remember not to keep too little or too much time in between the milestone you set. It’s a best practice to space milestones two weeks apart.
Step 5: Identify the resources needed
Before you start your project, it’s crucial to ensure that you have all the necessary resources at hand to complete the tasks. And if they are not currently available, you need to first make a plan to acquire them.
This should also include your budget. You can assign a column of your action plan to mark the cost of each task if there are any.
Step 6: Visualize your action plan
The point of this step is to create something that everyone can understand at a glance and that can be shared with everyone.
Whether your action plan comes in the shape of a flowchart , Gantt chart , or table , make sure that it clearly communicates the elements we have identified so far – tasks, task owners, deadlines, resources, etc.
This document should be easily accessible to everyone and should be editable.
Step 7: Monitor, evaluate and update
Allocate some time to evaluate the progress you’ve made with your team.
You can mark tasks that are completed as done on this final action plan, bringing attention to how you’ve progressed toward the goal.
This will also bring out the tasks that are pending or delayed, in which case you need to figure out why and find suitable solutions. And then update the action plan accordingly.
Business action plan
You may like to read: The Easy Guide to Making a Business Plan for Presentations
Marketing action plan
Strategic action plan, corrective action plan template.
Learn more about: Corrective Action Plan template .
Additional resources: The Easy Guide to Creating a Business Contingency Plan
Simple action plan template
Any more tips on creating an action plan.
An action plan is designed to guide your way to accomplishing your goals. It turns your vision into actionable goals and steps. And it helps you stay focused and motivated.
From an individual employee in an organization to larger departments can make use of action plans to steer their way towards completing their goals.
Maybe you are about to create your very first action plan, or you are already a pro at writing them. Either way, we’d like to hear your opinions on how to write an action plan. Do share them with us in the comments section below.
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FAQs About Action Plan
Lack of clarity on goals: Make sure the team understands the goals and objectives of the action plan. The goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
Unclear responsibilities: Assign clear roles and responsibilities for each team member to avoid confusion and ensure accountability.
Overcomplicating the plan: Keep the action plan simple and easy to understand. Avoid adding unnecessary complexity or detail that may confuse the team.
Failure to prioritize tasks: Prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency. This will ensure that the team focuses on the most critical tasks first.
Inadequate resources: Ensure that the team has access to the necessary resources such as time, budget, and equipment, to carry out the action plan successfully.
Lack of communication: Effective communication is crucial to the success of any action plan. Ensure that team members are regularly updated on progress and any changes to the plan.
Failure to monitor progress: Regularly monitor progress and adjust the action plan as needed to ensure that it stays on track and achieves its goals.
Strategic action plan: This type of plan outlines the long-term goals and objectives of an organization, and the actions that will be taken to achieve them. It typically covers a period of several years and includes high-level strategies and initiatives.
Operational action plan: This plan focuses on the day-to-day operations of an organization, outlining the actions that will be taken to achieve short-term goals and objectives. It typically covers a period of one year or less and includes specific actions and timelines.
Project action plan: This type of plan is used for individual projects and outlines the actions that will be taken to achieve specific project goals and objectives. It includes a detailed breakdown of tasks, timelines, and responsibilities.
Sales action plan: This plan focuses on the actions that will be taken to increase sales and revenue. It includes specific strategies for marketing, sales, and customer service.
Marketing action plan: This plan outlines the actions that will be taken to promote a product or service and increase brand awareness. It includes strategies for advertising, social media, public relations, and other marketing initiatives.
Crisis management action plan: This type of plan outlines the actions that will be taken in the event of a crisis, such as a natural disaster or security breach. It includes specific protocols for communication, evacuation, and other emergency procedures.
An action plan can be used by anyone who wants to achieve specific goals or objectives. It is a useful tool for individuals, teams, and organizations in a variety of contexts. Here are some examples:
Individuals: An individual can use an action plan to achieve personal goals such as losing weight, completing a degree, or starting a business.
Teams: A team can use an action plan to achieve goals related to a specific project or initiative. For example, a marketing team may use an action plan to launch a new product.
Small businesses: Small businesses can use an action plan to achieve goals related to sales, marketing, operations, or finance.
Non-profit organizations: Non-profit organizations can use an action plan to achieve goals related to fundraising, volunteer recruitment, or program implementation.
Government agencies: Government agencies can use an action plan to achieve goals related to policy implementation, disaster response, or public safety.
Educational institutions: Educational institutions can use an action plan to achieve goals related to improving student outcomes, increasing enrollment, or expanding programs.
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Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.
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How to create an action plan (with free templates and examples)
An action plan template provides a ready-made framework for quickly adding the steps — like tasks, due dates, and assignees — to achieve your project goals. It’s a great way to ensure your project action plans are effective and consistent so everyone understands what’s expected.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to write an action plan step-by-step, with examples for inspiration. Plus, you can download two free action plan templates — including one from our Work OS — to get started immediately.
Download Excel template
What is an action plan?
An action plan is a detailed blueprint that outlines the steps you, your team, or your organization will take to achieve a specific goal. It includes specific tasks or actions with due dates and assignees, a timeline, and the resources required to accomplish your goal.
Action plans include detailed information, such as:
- A description of each action or task to complete
- The person responsible for each action
- Due dates for each task
- Resources required to complete the action
- Space to reflect or take notes after you have completed a task
What is an action plan template?
An action plan template is a pre-structured document that gives you a framework for crafting your new action plan. A practical action plan template has designated spaces for each aspect you need to cover, often presented in a table format like this.
Free action plan templates
Here are two free action plan templates you can download and use today:
Try monday.com’s Action Plan Template:
This action plan template breaks down goals into actionable steps that you can prioritize, assign ownership, and track progress. You can also add start and end dates for each action, plus relevant details and files.
Get the template
Download the free action plan template for Excel:
Why is an action plan template important?
Leaders and managers use action plan templates to speed up the strategic planning process . Rather than spending unnecessary time designing the document used for planning purposes, project managers can simply pull up their template, save a new copy — keeping the existing template intact — and get straight to work scheduling and assigning tasks.
Action plan templates ensure consistency
Additionally, templates help to ensure consistency across plans and teams. When your organization uses the same action plan template for the whole company, it’s easier for team members to interpret and understand the plan — because they’re familiar with the format — and it contributes toward an organized, professional appearance.
Action plan templates help you plan more effectively
Action plan templates help project organizers plan more effectively by offering predefined categories and columns, reducing the chance of human error or omitting information from an action plan. In addition, you can apply any learnings from the project management process to your template. That way, you’ll consistently improve subsequent action plans.
While completing a project, you might find that some of the tasks in your task lists didn’t have clear outcomes. In addition, it wasn’t immediately obvious how to identify when the task was complete. So, you could borrow from the SMART goals framework — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound goals — and include a new column in your action plan template to note how you’ll measure if the task is complete.
And when using an action plan template built on a Work OS like monday.com, you can add your action plan to relevant project boards, create cross-team automations , and more — making it easier to collaborate with a distributed team in real time.
What are the essential features of an effective action plan template?
Action plan templates should contain the following features:
- Multiple views — such as tables, timelines, Kanban boards, and Gantt charts to visualize tasks.
- Task notifications — to detail and assign tasks to team members.
- Structured layouts — to plan tasks based on priority, status, and resource allocation.
- Collaboration ability — to maintain notes, comments, and files in one place.
- Automations — to update task status and notify owners.
- Status columns — to show the current status, such as Stuck, Working on it, and Done.
- Dashboards — to track overall progress, timelines, and budgets.
What is the difference between an action plan and a project plan?
A project plan is more detailed than an action plan. Both list the tasks, timelines, and resources required to achieve a desired goal. But project plans also include:
- Project goals and objectives
- Project milestones and deliverables
- Project scope and budget
- Project roles and responsibilities
- Project stakeholders and communication schedule
- Project risk mitigation and contingency plans
- Project success criteria
You can create an action plan from your project plan to outline the steps required to achieve your project goals.
What are the key elements of a well-written action plan?
A well-written action plan consists of seven components:
- Goals: define what the action plan aims to accomplish.
- Steps: detail the actions required to achieve each goal.
- Items: determine the task dependencies and priorities.
- Timeline: maps out the schedule and milestones from start to finish.
- Resources: identify the people, tools, and budget required.
- Responsibilities: assign tasks to an individual or a team.
- Review: monitor the overall progress of action items completed.
What are some examples of action plan templates?
Now that we know what they do, let’s look at a few action plan templates.
Business action plan template
This template outlines how to write an action plan to track progress toward a specific business goal.
( Image Source )
This action plan begins by detailing the primary goal, with the first column dedicated to a breakdown of each action required. For example, if your business goal was to design and launch a new website, your activities might include:
- Gathering design assets
- Choosing a color scheme
- Copywriting for new website pages
- Assembling design and development teams
- Creating design wireframes
- Design and development
- Launch and promotion
Note that the second to last column in this action plan template is reserved for noting potential hazards. This helps identify roadblocks that might get in the way of achieving your goals to plan around them.
Personal development action plan template
Though action plans are most often used in a business context, they can be a handy tool to help you stay motivated and work toward your personal goals.
This template allows you to break down your actions into a step-by-step sequence and includes a “How will I know I’ve been successful?” column to ensure that the actions you write down have a clear outcome.
Corrective action plan template
Creating an action plan can also be a great way to solve a specific business problem or even an issue with a particular employee’s performance. This is known as a corrective action plan, as shown in the example template below.
A corrective action plan template includes important columns, such as “metrics and constraints” — to help users complete tasks and plan for potential roadblocks — and “percent completed” — to help measure the progress toward the goal.
monday.com’s Action Plan Template
As you’ve seen in the examples above, the typical action plan format is a PDF or Microsoft Word document. While this is fine for goal setting and creating the plan itself, it’s not so great for putting it into action.
That’s why we’ve purpose-built a flexible, customizable, intuitive action plan template to use with monday.com.
When you design your action plan on monday.com, you can:
- Access multiple views (such as a table, Kanban, and timeline) to work in a manner that suits your needs.
- Assign tasks to individuals and notify them instantly.
- Comment and collaborate on tasks to keep communication contextual.
- Design custom automations to save valuable time and ensure nothing slips through the cracks.
- Report on progress with the Progress Tracking Column.
Once there is buy-in from the team on the plan, it is easy to copy actions, dates, and assignees over to the task management board.
Because monday.com is a comprehensive Work OS, any action plans you create with this template also integrate with relevant project boards. In addition, comprehensive analytics make tracking easy.
How to write an action plan step-by-step
Never created an action plan before? Then, follow this simple guide and get started with the free template above.
1. Determine your goals
First, you need to understand what you’re trying to achieve. Then, make this goal as specific as possible.
For example, “increase sales” is not a clear enough goal. “Increase sales by 20% in quarter three” is more specific and allows you to set a metric for achieving it.
2. Break down the steps required to achieve each goal
What actions are necessary to get there?
In this example, that might include:
- Hire three new sales development representatives
- Increase content marketing budget by $20,000
- Implement a new sales training program for new hires
3. Determine task dependencies and priorities
Remember: you can’t do everything at once! So now that you’ve broken down that big goal into bite-sized chunks, you need to figure out the perfect order for completing the tasks. In the above instance, you need to hire new sales representatives before starting a sales training program.
4. Set milestones
Now, set some milestones for significant events or checkpoints along the project. Some typical milestones are:
- Completion of a substantial task or phase of the project
- A significant event, such as a product launch
- Important meetings, like customer review meetings
5. Add deadlines
When do you need to complete each task? Setting deadlines for each task helps your team stay on track and allows you to identify if your timeline for the larger goal is realistic.
6. Identify the resources you need
What’s getting in the way of completing these tasks? What do you require — perhaps from leadership or another team — to meet or exceed your goals? In our sales team example, we might need some assistance from the HR department to advertise an open role and attract new applicants.
7. Assign tasks to individuals
Who is responsible for each action? Assign a clear task owner to each task. Ownership doesn’t just make someone feel accountable; it empowers them to take the initiative and solve problems without dragging in management at every twist and turn.
8. Agree on a plan to review progress
Before you jump in and start your project, determine how you will measure progress toward your goals. For example:
- Will you review your action plan every day or every week?
- Will the task assignees or the project leader be responsible for updating the plan to reflect progress?
Determining these answers upfront means the action plan remains a living document reflecting actual progress.
Customize our Action Plan Template to your needs today
Prepare and present your action plans with our flexible, customizable Action Plan Template. Team members will love the multiple views, automations, and collaboration features to keep them on point. And you’ll benefit from the Progress Tracking column in your weekly reports to stakeholders.
FAQs about action plans
What’s the difference between an action plan and a to-do list.
An action plan and a to-do list are helpful tools for organizing tasks and achieving goals. A to-do list is a list of tasks to complete, but not necessarily for the same goal or project. Typically, to-do lists are less organized than action plans and can change daily. In contrast, an action plan follows specific steps and includes tasks that all lead to completing a common goal.
What's the difference between an action plan and a strategic plan?
An action plan and a strategic plan are essential for an organization’s long-term and short-term planning. A strategic plan outlines an organization’s vision for the future and helps prioritize goals, make resourcing decisions, and unite employees. On the other hand, an action plan makes the strategic plan operational by providing detailed instructions on how to accomplish those goals.
What’s the difference between an action plan and an implementation plan?
An implementation plan and an action plan are essential documents that help teams execute a project successfully. An action plan focuses on the specific tasks needed to achieve a goal. In contrast, an implementation plan is a more holistic document outlining the steps, teams, and resources required to execute a project successfully.
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Top 10 Strategic Action Plan Templates with Examples and Samples
As a business owner, executive, or leader, you know that success does not come easy. It takes careful planning, hard work, and a little luck. While the role of luck cannot be eliminated totally, excellent businesses work hard to neutralize it as best as they can. In this endeavor, a strategic action plan is critical to checking that all essential requirements for success are in place.
A strategic action plan also functions as a roadmap to achieving your goals and objectives. The comprehensive document that outlines the steps you need to take to meet your targets. It includes a definition of your objectives, a SWOT analysis to identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, a list of action steps, a budget, and a timeline for completion.
Strategic Action Plan Templates: Your Clear Guide to Success
With a strategic action plan, you emphasize your resources, prioritize your efforts, and make informed decisions based on data and analysis. You measure your progress and adjust in real-time to ensure that you’re on track to achieving your goals.
As Winston Churchill famously said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”
Therefore, SlideTeam brings you a collection of ready-made PPT Templates on strategic action plan to help you succeed. These Templates provide you with a clear roadmap to achieving your goals. Create a compelling strategic action plan today and move towards making your dreams a reality!
Each of the Templates is 100% customizable and editable. The content-ready nature provides the presentation the much-need structure, with the editability feature ensuring that you can tailor the presentation in line with your unique audience preferences.
Let’s take a tour!
Template 1: Strategic Action Plan to Improve Recruitment Process PPT Template
This is a content-ready PowerPoint Template to help you onboard top-notch candidates. Grab this actionable PPT Slide designed with engaging graphics and meticulous content to drive a successful recruitment program. Use this pre-designed PowerPoint Diagram to identify problems in your current hiring process, solutions to overcome challenges, formulating timelines for your new recruitment plan, and more. This is a perfect PowerPoint Template for HR managers and associate directors to outline an action plan that streamlines the onboarding process. Download now!
Download this template
Template 2: Strategic Objectives and Action Plan PowerPoint Template
Here is another ready to use PowerPoint Template which you can use to craft a well-structured strategic action plan for your organization, irrespective of business. This PPT Slide comprises strategies and plans across verticals and industries. Use this PowerPoint Template to find a strategic action plan ready to use for retail company, smartphone company, automotive company, digital marketing, etc. Deploy this customizable presentation template and pen down a simple and easy to use action plan that accelerates your business growth. Download now!
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Template 3: Strategic Action Plan Table PPT Template
Wish to create a strategic action plan for your company? Deploy this PowerPoint Template and outline a crisp and comprehensive strategic action plan that helps you achieve your goals. This is a ready-made PPT Template showcasing action steps, person responsible, required resources, progress, etc. to help you navigate your path to success. It is a clean and neat slide, with a relatable and easily-readable tabular format, which you can use as a guide to reach your objectives and accomplish your targets. Download now!
Template 4: Tactical Action Plan PowerPoint Template
Use this professional and appealing PowerPoint Template in creating a compelling strategic action plan for your business. It is a pre-made PowerPoint Slide outlining steps required to achieve a specific goal or objective. It involves setting specific goals, identifying steps needed to achieve these, assigning responsibilities, and establishing a timeline for completion. This plan is a critical tool for businesses, organizations, and individuals who want to achieve success in the long-term and build a sustainable business model. Deploy this actionable PowerPoint Template to remain competitive in the market. Download now!
Template 5: Vertical Roadmap for HR Strategic Action Plan PPT Template
Looking for ways to outline an effective recruitment plan for your company? Go step-by-step and create a flexible hiring process for your organization with this pre-designed PowerPoint Template. It is a content-ready presentation template showcasing the procedure to reach top talent. This PPT Preset comprises an engaging graphic to grab your audience’s attention. Use this PPT Slide, add your content, and conduct a successful recruitment meet with your seniors and colleagues. The steps that this presentation template outlines start with assessing your own strategies; confirm management expectations and then develop an HR plan. The subheading under an HR plan start with identifying recruitment needs and then acting in accordance with the company culture you operate in. Download now to see excellence in action!
Template 6: Company Strategic Action Plan PPT Template
Here is another ready-made PowerPoint Template exhibiting a comprehensive strategic action plan. This professional and appealing document has space to add company’s name and date, among many sections. The Template also has a separate segment showcasing strategic imperatives, status, action plans, comments, etc. You can also flag and document urgent issues and problems associated with current action plan and top business objectives, vision, and goals. You can use this presentation template to keep updating your strategic action plan to evolve and thrive. Download now!
Template 7: Strategic Action Plan with Progress and Expense Template
This is a comprehensive document that outlines the necessary steps, assigns responsibilities, establishes timelines, and sets a budget for each business goal. This PowerPoint Template helps ensure that everyone in the organization is on the same page and working towards a common objective. It enables businesses to prioritize efforts and focus on accomplishing strategic objectives. This strategic action plan Presentation Template is a valuable tool for organizations of all sizes and scale, and can be reviewed and revised to ensure its continued effectiveness in achieving business success. Download now!
Template 8: Strategic Market Action Plan PPT Template
Here is another well-crafted PowerPoint Template to help your team achieve marketing goals. It is a ready-made presentation template showcasing specific marketing goals and targets, identifying the target market, and establishing strategies to achieve them. This PPT Template enables businesses to align their marketing activities with their overall business objectives and to allocate resources with efficiency. Grab this content-ready PowerPoint Template to increase your market share and improve the bottom line.
Template 9: Strategic Sales Growth Plan PowerPoint Template
This is a pre-designed PowerPoint Template helping you provide a framework for achieving sales targets, and increasing revenue. This PPT Template exhibits sales goals and outlines strategies to achieve them. Deploy this actionable PPT Pre-Set to align your sales activities with your overall business objectives, leading to improved profitability, and sustained business growth. Download now!
Template 10: Yearly Strategic Sales Action Plan PPT Template
Use this PowerPoint Template to highlight steps to escalate sales growth. This PowerPoint Template comprises varied sections to help you emphasize each part of the sales plan. It showcases products and services, budget, distribution strategy, deadline, and performance indicators. Grab this content-ready PowerPoint Template to activate and use sales channels to grow your business. Download now!
PLAN FOR LONG-TERM SUCCESS
A strategic action plan template is a valuable tool for businesses to achieve their goals and objectives. It provides a clear roadmap, assigns responsibilities, and establishes timelines and budgets. Using SlideTeam’s content-ready and custom-made PPT Templates, businesses can ensure its continued effectiveness. These premium PPT Templates help businesses emphasize their goals and achieve long-term success. Download now!
FAQs on Strategic Action Plan
What is a strategic action plan.
A strategic action plan is a document that outlines specific steps and activities needed to achieve a business or organization’s goals and objectives. It includes a set of strategic initiatives and tactics designed to support the mission and vision of the organization. A strategic action plan includes timelines, resource allocation, key performance indicators (KPIs), and responsible parties. The purpose of a strategic action plan is to provide a clear roadmap for achieving desired outcomes and to ensure that all stakeholders are aligned and working towards a common objective.
How do you write a strategic action plan?
Writing a strategic action plan can be complex, but here are some general steps that can help guide you:
- Define your goals and objectives : Define what you want to achieve and ensure they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
- Conduct a situation analysis : Conduct an analysis of your current situation, including SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to identify internal and external factors that may impact your plan.
- Develop strategies and tactics : Based on your goals and situation analysis, develop strategies and tactics to achieve them. Your strategies should outline the general approach, while tactics should provide more detail on specific actions needed to execute the strategy.
- Set timelines and assign responsibilities : Set realistic timelines for each strategy and tactic and assign responsibilities to individuals or teams who will be responsible for implementation.
- Establish performance indicators : Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you measure progress and ensure you are on track to achieve your goals.
- Monitor and adjust : Regularly monitor progress towards your goals and make real-time adjustments.
What are examples of strategic plan?
- Business Growth Plan : This plan outlines strategies and tactics to help businesses grow and expand, including new product development, entering new markets, or acquiring other companies.
- Marketing Plan : A marketing plan outlines strategies and tactics needed to promote a business's products or services, including market research, advertising, and sales promotion.
- Sales Growth Plan : This plan outlines strategies and tactics to increase sales revenue and market share, including setting sales targets, identifying target markets, and developing sales strategies.
- Operational Plan : An operational plan outlines day-to-day operations, including production, logistics, and supply chain management.
- Human Resources Plan : This plan outlines strategies and tactics to attract, develop, and retain talent within an organization, including employee training and development, compensation, and benefits.
What are strategic planning tools?
Strategic planning tools are techniques and methods used to help businesses and organizations develop and execute strategic plans. Here are a few common strategic planning tools:
- SWOT analysis : SWOT analysis is a tool that helps businesses identify their internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats.
- PEST analysis : PEST analysis is a tool that helps businesses understand external factors that may impact their strategy, including political, economic, social, and technological factors.
- Balanced Scorecard : The Balanced Scorecard is a tool used to measure and manage performance against strategic goals, including financial, customer, internal process, and learning and growth metrics.
- Scenario planning : Scenario planning is a tool used to develop and evaluate scenarios in the future and assess their impact on the business.
- Critical Success Factors : Critical Success Factors (CSFs) are areas that a business must focus on to achieve its goals, with the tool helping in identifying and prioritizing these.
- Porter's Five Forces : Porter's Five Forces is a tool that helps businesses analyze their industry's competitive environment and identify factors that determine industry profitability.
- Value Chain Analysis : Value Chain Analysis helps businesses identify activities and processes that add value to their products or services, and those that do not.
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35+ SAMPLE Business Action Plan in PDF
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What Is an Action Plan? (With Example and Template)
By Kelechi Udoagwu , June 8, 2023 - 10 min read
An action plan is a definitive checklist of tasks and resources needed to complete a project or achieve a goal. You can think of it as a visual countdown to the project delivery or a list of tasks needed to achieve desired results.
Now you may be thinking, “What is the purpose of an action plan vs. a to-do list ?” The most significant difference between action plans and to-do lists is that action plans focus on achieving a specific goal. In contrast, to-do lists are ongoing and include tasks for different goals and projects.
Understanding this distinction, it becomes clear that action plans are powerful tools for goal setting and project execution. They help teams manage resources, adhere to schedules, and track progress toward specific goals and projects.
In this article, we’ll go through the purposes of action plans, the key steps usually included in them, how you can use action plans to help your project management, and step-by-step instructions on how to put one together yourself.
And as a bonus, we’ll also give you information on Wrike’s pre-built action plan template , which can jump-start your action plan process. Here is a preview of what the action plan template looks like:
What is the purpose of an action plan?
Action plans help order project tasks in a sequential and timely manner to achieve a goal. Project managers and individuals can use action plans to achieve their work and personal project goals.
Developing an action plan clarifies goals to be achieved, teams and service providers to involve, tasks, dependencies, milestones, and resources needed to complete the project.
Working with an action plan ensures you complete every task and requirement to meet the expected standards of a project. As you develop an action plan, you identify any critical paths and dependencies.
Keep in mind that a developed action plan is not set in stone. It should be a dynamic document you can adjust as your environment changes.
Why are action plans important in project management?
An action plan in project management is a quick and easy way to manage projects. You can quickly map out the resources and requirements you need and sketch a timeline to complete tasks.
Because of their simplicity and ease of setup, action plans help maintain operational efficiency without taking much time. They declutter managers ’ minds and provide a framework for structuring new projects in a sensible order. Action plans also clarify the objectives of the project and build consensus on how the work should be done.
Action plans prepare you for predictable and preventable challenges and focus your resources to achieve your main goals. Effective action plans maximize personal and team productivity and resource allocation.
Following action plan steps also:
- Reduces the possibility of forgetting tasks in the project
- Generates a goal-driven workflow, so you know what to work on throughout the project
- Provides a way to track progress as you check tasks off the action plan as you complete them
Action plan vs. project plan
Action plans should not be confused with project plans . Both list the tasks, resources, and timelines required to achieve a desired goal, but project plans go deeper, including details such as contingency action steps, risk mitigation strategies, quality assessment criteria, and stakeholder communication schedules. In contrast, action plans simply list the tasks, resources, and timelines needed to achieve a goal.
Think of it this way: For big, long-term, or complex projects, you create a project plan first. Once your project plan is in place, an action plan helps you detail the steps and flow for allocating resources, sharing and executing tasks, and setting deadlines.
In summary, action plans and project plans differ in the following ways:
- Complexity: Action plans are simpler than project plans. They focus solely on the tasks, resources, and timelines required to achieve a goal. Project plans include sections for other measures, standards, and procedures for completing a project.
- Duration: Action plans focus on specific, short-term goals. These may be for standalone goals or part of a larger project. Project plans are more encompassing — covering longer-term objectives, which may take months or years to complete.
- Flow: Action plans are linear, one task following another until the goal is achieved. Project plans may have multiple phases, e.g., planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and reviewing, with each stage containing its own distinct tasks and deliverables.
The components of an action plan
Let’s take a look at the essential components of an action plan:
- Action plan objectives: The action plan objectives serve as the guide for the action plan, defining and communicating what the plan seeks to achieve.
- Action plan steps: Action plan steps form the core of the action plan. They detail crucial targets and milestones that must be completed to reach the goal. These steps divide the goal or project into manageable chunks and provide a framework for identifying tasks (action items), allocating resources, and determining timelines.
- Action plan items: Action plan items are the nitty-gritty details of the action plan — the actual tasks to be performed. Each action plan item must be clearly defined, actionable, and understood by the team involved.
- Action plan timeline : The action plan timeline maps out the plan schedule from start to finish. It’s crucial for setting expectations, tracking progress and performance, and ensuring the project stays on schedule.
- Action plan resources: These are the inputs required to execute the plan, e.g., labor, time, tools, and funds. Identifying action plan resources before delving into execution helps ensure tasks are not delayed or compromised due to resource constraints.
- Action plan matrix: The action plan matrix provides a structured layout for planning tasks. It serves as a roadmap and helps to categorize your action steps and tasks based on priority, status, and resource allocation. This alignment helps identify any dependencies or potential bottlenecks.
- Action plan report: The action plan report provides an overview of the progress made in executing the action plan. It includes details like the tasks completed, time taken, costs incurred, resources used, and any deviations from the plan.
- Assignments: Each task should be assigned to a person, team, or group. Clear assignment of responsibility is crucial for accountability and the successful execution of any action plan.
What are the key steps of an action plan?
The main point of an action plan is to ensure you don ’ t overlook critical tasks and milestones of your project. In its simplest form, developing an action plan entails listing tasks you need to complete and prioritizing them.
As you develop your action plan, you decide which tasks you can delegate, outsource, or delay. The steps below map out how to write a sound action plan to increase your chance of success.
Step 1: Define your goal
Get clear on what you want to achieve with your project. Define where you are and where you want to be. If you have alternative methods to achieve your goal, assess your situation and decide the best chances of success depending on your resources.
Step 2: List tasks
Once you have your goal, list the tasks and activities you must complete to achieve it. Then order them sequentially by adding key dates and deadlines.
Step 3: Identify critical tasks
Are there any steps that must be completed before others can start? These are critical tasks with dependencies. Prioritize these tasks and set realistic deadlines. If you plan to assign them to team members, be sure to let them know the dependencies and allow them enough time to deliver them.
Step 4: Assign tasks
Now the project is broken down, you can start assigning tasks. Will you be handling some yourself in addition to managing the project? Make sure you allocate time and human resources carefully — you may choose to delegate or outsource specific tasks.
Step 5: Assess and improve
At the end of each project, assess performance and take lessons to improve your action planning and project execution. If you work with a team, collect feedback and improvement suggestions from team members for better future performance.
Action plan best practices
Following these best practices will mean you ’ re more likely to succeed:
- Involve your team: When working with a team, involve them early in the planning process to get their input and save time. Get team members ’ work schedules before assigning tasks to avoid conflicts. Communicate clearly to enable them to prepare for their responsibilities.
- Set SMART goals: SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Ensure your action plan starts with a strong foundation by defining clear and SMART goals that add value, either as a personal project or at work.
- Make your action plans into templates: To get more benefits from your action plans, make them into templates for similar projects. After assessing your action plans at the end of a completed project, make a copy of the plan and remove all project-specific details, so you ’ re able to use the action plan template in future projects. This reduces rework and saves a lot of time and also mistakes.
Who needs to write an action plan?
Action plans are not solely used in project management. They are handy for project managers, professional service providers, and individuals, and useful for both personal and business projects. Action plans can also be used alone or with a team.
In teams, the leader develops the action plan with input from team members. Developing an action plan helps individuals, managers, and organizations complete more successful projects. They are great for kick-starting, tracking, and maintaining progress on any project. Remember to check off tasks as they are done, update the plans, and communicate with your team as your project progresses.
Action plan example
Action plans are quick and easy to create. It’s all about putting down what you need to accomplish your goal or project.
Here’s a simple action plan example for a marketing team working on a new campaign:
Action plan objective: Increase brand awareness and boost product sales by 30% by the end of Q4 2023 through a localized multimedia marketing campaign.
Action plan template
Wrike’s action plan template simplifies goal and project management with an intuitive interface designed to help teams plan and launch projects with teams of any size. This template’s features enable real-time collaboration, easy task assignments, time tracking, and reporting.
Common issues like a lack of visibility on remote workers’ assignments and confusing project priorities are mitigated with functionalities such as:
- Organizing tasks by departments into folders, making the journey from “To Do” to “In Progress” to “Completed” smooth
- Identifying dependencies and defining the priority of tasks to determine which tasks need to be done first
- Providing a snapshot of the tasks due now and in the coming weeks, ensuring the project schedule is adhered to
- Securing sensitive data from unauthorized personnel with permissions levels offering various levels of access and visibility for collaborators and stakeholders
How to create an action plan with Wrike
Using project management tools helps to organize your action plan visually. With software such as Wrike, you can easily input your project resources, requirements, and timelines, and track your progress throughout the project.
As outlined above, the best way to jump-start your action plan is to use our pre-built template. It helps you take control of your task management by providing sample folders to organize tasks, a calendar for project scheduling, and pre-built dashboards for monitoring progress. All you have to do is add your tasks and due dates to get a complete overview of project work.
If you’re ready to develop action plans and track your progress while executing projects better, you need Wrike. We make it easy to plan, execute, and ensure success, even when you’re on the go.
Click here to start your free two-week trial and kick off your action plan today.
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