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Action Plans

Developing targeted action plans

Without careful action planning, the strategies you’d like to implement in your organization are unlikely to become reality. So when coordinating the implementation phase of a business plan, the first step is to develop targeted action plans. 

An action plan is a series of tasks that need to be completed in order to accomplish a particular objective. Action plans typically contain information on a number of different areas.

  • roles and responsibilities — It’s important to make sure that your team members understand their individual roles and responsibilities in the implementation process. They need to know exactly what’s expected of them and what they’re required to do.
  • expected results — A typical action plan clearly states the goals and objectives the plan aims to achieve. It also describes the expected results — or outcomes.
  • specific action steps — It’s important to break the work involved in your action plan down into specific action steps or activities. When you’ve listed the necessary activities, you can then sequence them in a logical order.
  • schedules — It helps to provide detailed schedules for each project and subproject. Schedules show how long each activity is expected to take — and when it should take place.
  • resource requirements — An action plan should set out the resources you need to successfully implement your strategies and ideas. The main resources you need to carry out an action plan are people, time, space, and equipment.

Action steps

You can follow seven steps to help you create the main sections of an action plan. First, clarify the outcomes you want to achieve. For each outcome, list the activities necessary to achieve it. Then put the activities in order. 

The fourth step is to assign responsibilities for completing each activity among your employees. Then determine the resources you need to implement your plan. And determine the likely costs of implementing it. Finally, create a schedule showing the timelines involved.

Clarifying outcomes and listing activities

In the first step, you clarify the outcomes you want to achieve. When doing this, you describe the expected results of the various activities in your plan.

The second step to take when creating an action plan is to list the activities necessary to achieve each outcome. It’s a good idea to get the relevant teams involved in brainstorming the activities. Each activity should be clearly written, to avoid confusion and misinterpretation later.

Ordering activities and assigning responsibility

The third step is to put the activities in a logical order, so you tackle them in the correct sequence. In this example, the first activity undertaken should be to identify basic user requirements. Then you can design an initial prototype. After that, you review it and provide feedback on any additions or changes that are necessary. The final activity is to revise and enhance the prototype.

When creating an action plan, the fourth step is to assign responsibilities for completing each activity among your team members. Unless you specifically assign responsibility for carrying out a task, it probably won’t get done. So your action plan should make it clear who has responsibility — and authority — for ensuring that each activity is completed. You should also identify the individuals, groups, or units who are involved in carrying out each activity.

Determining resources, costs, and the schedule

The fifth step is to determine the resources needed. It’s crucial to factor in enough people and support services from the outset to implement your action plan effectively. Inadequate resources can cause your plan to fall behind schedule — or to fail. But almost any problem can be solved with adequate resources.

The sixth step is to determine the specific costs required to implement your action plan. To work this out, you need to carefully examine each activity in your plan.