Action plan template
An action plan is the first step toward any goal, task, project, or dream coming true. In a nutshell, an action plan is a well-thoughtful plan of what you need to do to reach the desired result. It saves you from constant distractions from your main task, allowing you to concentrate all your energy and thoughts on what is important.
A plan of action is sometimes known as a roadmap, which is quite eloquent. When you’re in an unknown city, you rely on your GPRS to guide you from point A to point B. The same happens when you start something new. However, in this case, you’re the one who builds the route.
An organized plan for any goal, even the easiest ones, is like honest cheating. It’s your shortcut to winning the race. If a comprehensive action plan eases your task, a workable action plan template multiplies its effectiveness and saves even more of your time.
xTiles prepared an action plan template to shorten your way toward your goals and provide you with a helpful tool. Additionally, we offer you a guide on how to use it for your benefit.
What is an action plan, and why do I need it?
When that electric bulb appears near your head, what would be your first step to get it to happen? Rush to work as quickly as possible until the idea is alive and fresh? Postpone it when you have more time? Forget about it a few seconds later because you’re busy?
Many people don’t bother to write their ideas down to have a chance to return to them later, which is very sad. We're bound to forget most of what we've thought about. Maybe one of those ideas could change the world for the better. Growing a habit of jotting down everything that pops into your mind, even crazy and bizarre things, will bring you only positive results.
An action plan definition is quite simple – it is a very detailed, firm list of what you need to do to achieve your goal. Usually, any goal consists of many separate steps if you analyze it. It’s easy to say, “I want this and that,” but it will be hard to reach them without understanding what hides behind these general things.
“Hold on,” you may say. But what makes an action plan different from a common to-do list? What is the purpose of an action plan if I can make a simple to-do list instead? Its detalization makes it different and more useful for easier and more consistent goals achievement. A well-known to-do list might not work or will be misleading for big projects.
An action plan is also a collection of data about your project. All whats, whens, whys, and whos concerning your current goal. Depending on your preferences, you may include deadlines, resources you need, people responsible for separate tasks, etc.
An action plan will bring many benefits whether you work on a goal achievement on your own or with a team:
- It will help you define your direction and highlight what is necessary and what can wait.
- It will keep you motivated from one task to another.
- It will help you easily track your progress.
- It will help you prioritize tasks needed to complete your goal.
- For big teams, an action plan is also a way to keep the connection between everyone involved. Sometimes you can’t start your task without someone finishing theirs.
- Another advantage of having an action plan for your goal completion is that you will see what is unnecessary before you buckle down and start working.
As a rule, an action plan is usually used in project management. However, no one forbids you to use that approach to any other kind of project or task. On the contrary, it will be hugely beneficial. You get access to the methodology polished and improved by professionals to use it for your advance, and the xTiles Action Template is your reliable tool.
What should I add to my action plan?
An action plan is a pretty individual thing that depends on the project’s or goal’s specifications. You may not need what you used in your previous project, or you may need to add something entirely new. However, some elements are necessary for a plan to be called “an action plan.”
So, what components should an action plan have?
- A comprehensive description of the goal to achieve.
- Separate tasks the goal was broken into.
- Personnel in charge of the goal achievement (if you’re creating a plan for your personal affairs, then this component would be unnecessary because there’s no one but you in this).
- Deadlines and milestones to stay motivated.
- Resources a team needs/has to reach the goal.
- Measures to track the progress.
How to build an action plan?
Creating an action plan might be no easy task if you haven’t done it before. That’s why we have a little guide. We made it short yet detailed to answer all of your questions and dispel all of your doubts.
- Collect the information you will need to build a plan
Any action plan creation starts with thorough consideration of your goal and what steps will lead you to its completion. Talk with everyone who will be involved to make sure you have a clear and correct understanding of what you need to achieve. First of all, you may need to discuss a project’s details with stakeholders. Then discuss what you already have with your team. Talk with them about their ideas and what they consider to be the best strategy.
If there’s no one but you achieving this goal, you will need to give yourself time to consider all the details. You may try brainstorming sessions or creating a mood board to get a clear understanding of what you need to do.
This first step is likely to have a huge impact on the action plan itself and the workflow that will follow. Even though the temptation to jump straight to action is huge, wait until you have all the necessary information.
TIP: You may use the xTiles SMART goals template, according to which a task has to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
- Identify the resources you will need to implement your plan
Now that you know clearly defined your main purpose, you will need to define what you need to do it successfully. Research what you will need to make everything happen on time. Also, consider what will be a nice little addition to all the resources you need. Then, you will need to discuss these matters with your stakeholders once more.
- Create the steps
We’re done with conversions, at least for a while. Now, you need to transform all you’ve got after the first steps into a comprehensive and workable action plan. You may start with outlining bigger stages and then rushing into smaller ones. Or you may do it one at a time. For this step, you may use the xTiles SMART template as well to make sure that all of your tasks are attainable. If not, break them down into smaller ones.
- Prioritize all the tasks you just set
Some tasks might become blockers for others until they are unfinished. Don’t forget to establish realistic timelines for each of your steps, keeping in mind that everything has to remain on schedule.
- Set milestones
You need them to keep your team or yourself motivated. Let people who will work to achieve the goal have something to look forward to. Try to set them evenly throughout the whole process.
- Define roles and responsibilities
Your action plan is still raw and far from finished, but at this stage, it is supposed to look like a plan with all the steps defined and described.
Now you will have to define the key personnel responsible for each step. When assigning people, keep in mind their positions and skills. Think of who will manage this task better and faster. Also, it’s always good to ask during the first stage about what a person would like to do for project completion. Besides providing you with the information, you get to know your team better and can distribute tasks evenly and according to people’s preferences, which is always good.
- Review your plan
Now you need to make sure the action plan is really actually “yours.” You need to check whether it meets your expectations, and whether everyone involved will give exactly how much they can give. If not, or if you’re not sure, revise your plan. Maybe it needs a few changes in order to work.
- Review your plan routinely while implementing it
Once your action plan is finished and every part is checked and discussed, the hardest part starts – you need to monitor whether everything is done on time and within budget. Reviewing the progress must become your routine.
- Don’t be afraid of changes
And remember that an action plan can change during the process. Thankfully, we don’t engrave it on stone. It’s the Holy Grail of your project, but it must be up-to-date and relevant to your needs. However, the one and only object it has to be focused on is your goal at hand.
Now you can create your action plan using our guide and ready-to-go template. We made both of them suitable for a vast majority of cases. So, no matter whether you’re creating an action plan for a big team or just for yourself, our template and guide will be useful tools to help you reach your goals and make your dreams come true.