Find out all about Action Plan: definition, step-by-step and template ready to implement efficiently and achieve your goals;
In this content we will talk about something essential for any company, the action plan and how to do it for yours.
What we will see in this article
What is an Action Plan?
A action plan is a detailed strategy that lays out the steps, responsibilities, timelines and resources needed to achieve a specific goal.
This objective is divided into steps or goals and each step is divided into activities that the professionals will perform.
In addition, the action-plan also considers the resources needed to execute that action plan.
The best way to learning what something is is with examples, isn’t it? So let’s show one in a simple way.
Example of a practical and simple action plan
Imagine that your company wants to increase its annual turnover by 10%, that is the main goal.
This main objective in this example has been divided into the following goals:
- Analyze the current market to identify customer demands for creating new products and services
- Basic creation of products and services with customer testing
- Producing sustainable marketing to expand the customer base
- Monitor the results to make some adjustments if necessary.
The company then defines that it will have resources for the budget for the creation of products and services, marketing and market analysis.
It also defines the success of each month’s target based on its monthly turnover, this also as a form of monitoring.
What is the Action Plan for?
As you saw in the previous topic, we talked about a company that wants to increase its turnover by 10%, but what is its main reason.
Although it may seem obvious, it is important to point out that absolutely any action plan, just like our example, wants to solve a problem.
Every goal starts from a problem, doesn’t it? We start a healthy diet because we want to live longer, we take care of our finances to live well and the same works for businesses.
However, in addition to solving a problem, the action plan can perform several functions for the company.
First, the action plan can bring clarity with clear goals to achieve the objective is to solve the problem.
The action plan manages to align expectations, responsibilities and all activities for all teams in all sectors of a company.
In addition, the action plan can show employees what the priority of that moment should be, consequently increasing the productivity of the teams.
Finally, it also shows a way to track the success or otherwise of a goal, showing the company what needs to be prioritized and when the goal should be modified.
What is the importance of making an action plan?
As we talked about in the previous topic, the action plan aims to solve a problem, doesn’t it?
Obviously, no company likes problems and therefore wants to solve them in the best possible way.
This way, think of the plan as a kind of treasure map with all the essential details to be able to find it.
There is no point in having a goal without knowing how to take action to achieve it, is there?
With this in mind, the importance of the action plan is essential to deal with the problem, realize the goals and avoid negative scenarios for the company.
The action plan works as a guarantee to direct all the company’s efforts towards something functional and aimed at its improvement.
In addition, it must be understood that certain negative scenarios caused by problems can lead to the end of the company.
Of course, the end of all livelihoods of professionals there, potential innovation of products and services and also a blow to the national economy.
What is the purpose of the action plan?
The purpose of the action plan as we talked about is to solve problems of the companies that can lead to bankruptcy or a crisis.
However, it is important to understand that most objectives and problems are rather abstract.
In other words, even if it is a very positive goal, everyone will have a different opinion of what protagonism is for women.
In this way, we can see the action plan as a tool that manages to transform any abstract goal into a clear, achievable and mainly structured goal.
Following with our example, imagine that the company wants to have more women as leadership.
This is a form of empowerment for women and becomes a goal that can be structured into clear targets with deadlines.
In addition, it makes it possible to define whether the goal was a success or not, adjusting where necessary.
What is an action plan: Examples
We will give you three examples of action plans so that you understand even better how this tool works.
Business action plan
Let’s say an e-commerce wants to increase its customer satisfaction by 20% over the next 6 months.
The first action needed would be to do customer satisfaction surveys, identifying what problems their customers face and the main result was the company’s support.
Next, the company will train the customer service team to strengthen each employee’s skills in this area.
Also, check that the company would not need to upgrade its equipment and processes to improve support.
The company would then conduct a new and ongoing survey on customer satisfaction with the company’s support.
At the same time as the company checks customer satisfaction, it also makes changes at the suggestion of customers, until it reaches the goal.
Action plan for a project
Imagine that a construction company needs to build a building to house a large company, but it needs five floors to fit all the professionals and their sectors.
First, the construction company should create a schedule of tasks and activities with a logical sequence.
The first task would be to get the permits for the construction and check that the project meets all the requirements.
You would then need to buy the materials while using software to regulate stock and project progress.
Finally, the construction company in our example carries out quality checks after each completed stage of construction.
Personal action plan
Imagine that a professional wants to be promoted next year to earn a better salary.
First, this professional should schedule a meeting with his or her superior to receive constructive feedback.
This professional then seeks out the biggest name in their field for a working consultancy and thus seek solutions based on their positive feedback.
Imagine that the consultant has defined the courses he needs to take and the attitudes he should have at work.
Finally, the practitioner monitors their daily progress and talks to the advisor monthly to make essential adjustments.
What is a SMART action plan?
The SMART action plan is a methodology to create more specific, achievable and time-bound goals;
It is important to understand that the SMART method is a tool that can be used alongside the action plan.
In addition, it is necessary to understand that the SMART method is a way to create goals and only goals.
In this way, the method does not focus on monitoring which is an essential part of the action plan.
SMART in the method is actually an acronym that shows how each goal should be and we will explain it better in this topic.
S for Specific
According to the SMART methodology every method must be specific, with this in mind it is necessary to answer three questions:
- What is the goal?
- Where should the goal be achieved?
- Why should the objective be achieved?
M for Measurable
The objective according to the SMART methodology must have criteria to define its success and indicators to monitor its evolution.
A de Achievable (Atingível)
According to the SMART method, every goal must be achievable. In other words, what you want to achieve must be in line with the possible resources.
Thus, the main resources are financial resources, human resources and available time resources.
R for Relevant
Every objective must be relevant according to the SMART methodology and for this it is necessary to be in consensus for the organization, for the teams and for the professionals.
That is, it is necessary to show that the priority is the goal for everyone in the company.
T for Time-Bound
Finally, every goal should have a deadline to be achieved thus creating a sense of urgency in everyone involved.
How to draw up an action plan?
The SMART methodology is a great way to define a goal and then create an action plan.
So, the first step is to identify the problem your company is currently facing.
You have to understand that any problem has a hierarchy level between the most important and the least important.
To define this hierarchical level for any problem just ask yourself what the company’s scenario will be if it is not selected.
The worse the scenario, the more important the problem is and the more urgent it should be.
However, it is necessary to consider the resources of the company to solve this problem. After all, if the problem cannot be solved due to lack of resources, the company should focus on the next one.
What should an action plan have?
An action plan should have three essential ingredients, they are:
- One possible and most urgent objective at the moment
- Clear steps in a logical sequence
- Monitoring for changes
The goal in the action plan we are talking about from the beginning of the content, so it is probably clear this question.
However, you probably have more questions about monitoring and the steps of an action plan.
What is monitoring in an action plan?
Monitoring is something essential in an action plan, because the tool shows something close to reality, but not reality itself.
This way, however an action plan is essential for any goal and avoids several problems.
There are problems during the process or that we did not consider that require a change in the original plan to fit reality.
Fortunately, many software and apps can track changes in an action plan with some accuracy.
In this way, making the company correct the course during the process and achieve the desired goal.
What are steps in an action plan?
The steps of an action plan never change, for each company and objective they can change their content, but never their order and reason.
In the next topic we will discuss in more depth how the steps of an action plan work. However, below we can tell you what they are:
- Definition of purpose
- Core activities
- Changes and contingencies
What are the action plan steps?
Here in this topic we will describe what the steps of an action plan are for you to use as a basis for your document.
Definition of purpose
The first step is goal setting and a great way to make it very practical is to use the SMART method.
Once you have defined your goal, now identify which steps and tasks need to be done in logical order.
Think of steps as a set of tasks and the tasks as the actions needed to complete the steps of the goal.
Each step or tasks should be described in detail so that all employees involved are not left in doubt.
In each task you can also use the SMART method, this is interesting because it keeps everything in the same model.
For each task and step it is interesting to assign to a collaborator, this is important to verify that all human resources are according to plan.
After all, if that employee who would be assigned the task does not have a certain essential knowledge, it is necessary to assign another professional.
An interesting way is to assign each step of the objective to a team and each task to a collaborator.
The best way to do monitoring today is to use project management software.
Where all employees involved have access and can put the progress of each task there.
In addition, the vast majority of these softwares allow you to see the evolution of the project in its entirety.
Changes and contingencies
If monitoring finds that a task is delayed, cannot be completed due to lack of resources or any other problem it needs a contingency.
Analyze the different tasks of each step of your action plan and develop a contingency for each plausible scenario.
Contingencies are ways to solve what prevents the task from being completed, the main scenarios are:
- Task about to be delayed
- Task incomplete due to lack of financial resources
- Task incomplete due to lack of knowledge of professionals
- Task incomplete due to lack of human resources
The goal should be followed up by the leaders of each team and they should have a very assertive communication for any change needed within the planning.
By having leaders in each team, communication becomes much faster and thus diligent in solving problems
How to create an action plan to achieve goals?
In this topic, we will briefly show you the step-by-step process to create an action plan.
- Set the goal based on the SMART method
- Break down the goal into steps and tasks using the SMART method
- Draw up a contingency for each task
- Define who will be responsible for each team and tasks
- Monitor the progress of tasks using software
- Make changes and adjustments based on contingencies
- Show the progress of the goal to the teams
- Celebrate the achievement of the goal
How to write an action plan?
Writing an action plan requires that everyone involved is aware so that the goal can be successfully completed.
We are talking from the highest leader in the hierarchy to the trainee and for this it is necessary to hold meetings and discuss.
We will show you in the next topic how you can do these discussions in a productive way.
How to make an action plan step by step?
In this topic we will discuss how to make an action plan with everyone involved in the company.
First of all, it is necessary to gather all the team leaders and define the objective to be achieved.
Then, it will be defined the steps and the necessary activities as we talked about in previous topics,
In this way, each leader should take the plan to their respective team and wait for feedback to make changes to the plan.
This is a crucial moment because everyone involved needs to be aware that they can perform their tasks.
Naturally changes will be suggested and naturally the plan will be altered in its steps and activities, but the goal remains the same.
Example of a ready-made action plan
To finalize our content we will show you an example of a template that you can use as a basis to build yours plans.
It is important to remember that it is necessary to have read our content in full to understand each concept perfectly in the model.
Organization of the document
The organization of the document is the first step where you write the name of the plans and the date of creation.
This is important because the company in the future can use the plans that worked for similar scenarios.
Definition of purpose
The second step is goal setting using the SMART method that we explained in previous topics.
Division into steps
The third step is to divide the goal into steps also using the SMART method as a basis. Generally step 0 focuses on the solution based on the feedback from the current analysis.
The fourth step is to define the tasks for each step, also chose the person responsible for the task, the resources the person needs and the deadline.
It is important to understand that the deadline for each task should be within the deadline of the current step.
Contingencies for the steps
Finally, define contingencies for each step and especially an indicator that shows when to use it.