We all need to have effective planning in business to succeed. Unlike to-do lists, action plans focus on the achievement of a single goal simply put they are lists of all of the tasks that you will need to accomplish to meet an objective. Action plans are useful for strategic planning, as they give you a framework for thinking about how you’ll complete complex tasks.
What is an Action Plan?
An action plan is a smart outline of activities that help you finish activities in a logical order, and it also helps you ensure that you don’t miss any important steps. With action plans, team members can easily see each task and quickly decide which tasks they can put on the backburner or prioritize. Action plans are critical in accomplishing exactly what your goals are because they will help you stay motivated and ensure that you’re on track to complete goals on schedule.
Why Your Business Needs an Action Plan
Action planning has several benefits to help improve productivity and reach objectives. Some of the perks that come with action plans include:
Help you monitor progress: action plans are great for monitoring your progress. You have a start and end date with them and know how long a task will take to finish. Action plans can also help you ensure that you’re staying within budget, save time, and let you determine tweaks your time or resources.
Bring team members together: Action plans can bring together team members together to accomplish a common end goal. With it, you can delegate or prioritize tasks under one vision and follow up on tasks through deadlines.
Instill focus: By creating an action plan you can help maintain focus. Without an action plan, you may engage in a lot of activity without accomplishing anything towards your goal. Your action plan helps ensure that your actions and decisions by your entire team are designed towards accomplishing your specific goals.
Measure success: Because action plans prioritize tasks through a schedule, they come in handy to measure success. Because each task is presented as a stepping stone towards a larger objective, it helps measure progress.
How do You Write a Business Action Plan?
Action plans help you reach your ultimate goal by identifying and scheduling a series of tasks that will help you reach your goal. Below are five easy steps to write an action plan.
1. Decide on a SMART Goal
The key to having an effective action plan is to use the S.M.A.R.T. is a mnemonic acronym. Simply put SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Specific: you must identify one ultimate goal this will help you in goal setting, instill focus and direct all your efforts to one ultimate goal.
Measurable: you will need to have your yardstick to measure your performance on how you completed the goal.
Attainable: Your goal should be realistic within the time frame, budget and effort you are investing in.
Relevant: make sure the goal is very important to you. You will need to answer questions like ‘Why are we doing this?’ and ‘Why is it important to us?’. This will clarify that the goal is aligned with your business needs.
Time-bound: everything has a start and a finish as such you must have a specific start and due date for your action planning.
2. Create a Timeline
Without a clear timeline, you risk languishing in a series of tasks indefinitely. You will need to allot a timeline and deadline for each task this will help you in monitoring performance and identifying roadblocks that might need your attention to rectify.
3. Complete Milestones
Your action plan entails a series of tasks that will need to be executed for the successful completion of your business objective. You must complete each milestone of your action plan to be successful in the execution of your action plan.
4. Track Progress
Tracking progress will help you identify roadblocks as well as competence. You should monitor against your action plan to ensure that agreed actions are taking place, evaluate the effectiveness and decide what further actions if any are needed.
Business Action Plan Example
A business action plan will help explain how you will operate and manage your business. A simple example of a business action plan can be developed using this template:
Goal: How to run a successful bakery
Set tasks: set tasks in terms of items to produce; develop marketing strategy; determine prices; develop a financial plan.
Assign task owners: assign people to conduct specific tasks.
Identify resources needed: purchase equipment and supplies; determine staffing needs; budget.
Forecast obstacles ahead: determine competition’s edge over you; identify challenges to business.
Set timeline: set a timeline of when activities will need to be completed.
Emergency Action Plan Example
An emergency action plan helps to address emergencies that your business may face. Some examples of an emergency action may include fires, hazardous materials spills; natural disasters, and others.
An example of an emergency action plan template for a fire will need to include:
Goal: The procedures for reporting a fire or other emergency.
Tasks: list procedures to determine the type of evacuation and exit routes; use floor plans or workplace maps to clearly show the emergency escape routes; procedures to be followed by employees who remain to operate critical plant operations before they evacuate such as power supplies, water, and other essential services; procedures to account for all employees after evacuation; identify employees performing rescue or medical duties.
Assign team members: Name or job title of employee who may be contacted by employees who need more information about the plan or an explanation of their duties under the plan.
Marketing Action Plan Example
A marketing action plan will help you develop and execute marketing strategies. With it you can set your goals (increase sales, leverage brand, conduct promotions, etc.), strategies, designate resources, and other plans to track and measure progress to execute your marketing campaign.
Marketing action plans may differ on their objectives but standard elements to have in your marketing action plan include:
Goal: To boost the sale of a product
Assign key performance indicators: these are metrics that you can use to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing campaign and action plan.
Identify your target market: by identifying your target audience you can frame your marketing messages based on the persona of your target.
Assign timeframe: This includes a major deadline as well as deadlines for key tasks throughout the project.
Identify product: to sell your product write the product down in your marketing action plan.
Assign team members: Assign team members for a particular task.
Marketing budget: Your will need to include a marketing budget for the successful execution of your marketing campaign.
Project Management Action Plan Example
A Project management action plan can help you organize teams, track performance, and measure the execution of a project. Think of a project as a collection of all the tasks involved to accomplish a specific goal.
An example of a project management action plan:
Goal: Event planning for the launch of a product
Assign tasks: assign management team structure and personnel for venue preparation; marketing and promotion; media outreach; hire MCs and book talent; organize gift baskets; hire catering and decorations; send out invitation cards etc.
Budget: Include all the resources and money need for the successful completion of the project and prepare a cost estimate for each task and monitor costs.
Assign Team members: include workers that are part of the project.
Project risk: List and factor in anything that might go wrong in your project. This will help you identify risks before getting started on a project, so you can best prevent them.
Timeline: include the project’s timeline from the project start date up to its end date.
Simple Action Plan Template
You can use this simple action plan template for any situation:
Problem: (What challenges you want to overcome)
Goal: (The ultimate goal you want to reach to solve your problem)
Actions to be taken: Include steps you plan to take to achieve your goals
Persons in charge: Assign staff members who will be handling each step
Timeline: prepare a schedule for each step
Resources: include resources you need to allocate for each step)
Potential barriers: List down factors that can potentially impede the completion of each step and how to avert them)
Outcomes: list down a list of desired results you want to see in each step