Action Plans Are the Next Steps to Executing Your Strategy and Staying on Track
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
Once you’ve developed an effective business strategy, you’ll need to take these objectives and break them down into practical and manageable action points. A successful action plan should be properly prepared from the outset to identify these points. As projects progress an action plan identifies real-time progress, delivery rates, metrics and further information which is invaluable to team members, managers and stakeholders.
It’s a road map to achieving the organization's overall strategic objectives and keeping everyone involved on the same page. Measurable actions are the steppingstones for executing the organizations overall long term goals. It’s an essential tool and any robust and deliverable action plan should be based on the 3 C’s.
· Complete – It should be a thorough and organized list of all the actions that need to be achieved.
· Clear – It should define accountability and deadlines against the person responsible for each specific area.
· Current – It should include current progress and identify any new challenges and opportunities. An action plan is an organic progress which develops and evolves over time whilst keeping an overall framework.
Employee Engagement at The Planning Stage
You’ll need to involve all the other members of staff who are going to be accountable for completing the project. Discussions will have to take place to understand the most practical ways there are available to proceed. Information gathered in these discussions ensures you can achieve the necessary tasks efficiently and reach the desired outcomes. Planning and engagement meetings are also the first steps to building a project team who will feel empowered and have the desire to be a part of the new strategic objectives for the organization they work within.
By including the other team members you’ll gain a realistic insight into the timeframes that some actions are likely to take and where any possible challenges may. Challenges can come from several areas including, resourcing, available marketing tools or even a new systems implementation. By building these findings into a working action plan, you can deliver clear and concise practical tasks, which need to be completed either daily, weekly or monthly. Employee inclusion also drives engagement and the internal motivation for people to deliver on a consistent basis.
What Should an Action Plan Contain?
1. All practical steps should be broken down and listed in chronological order. Doing this will deliver a concentrated timeframe for actions to be completed.
2. Accountability is key when assigning tasks. Each person needs to acknowledge their roles and responsibilities throughout the process and that they need to deliver what has been asked of them.
3. The key driver for success when it comes to implementing an action plan is communication. Understanding who is responsible for which areas and where some areas may cross over helps to build better team relationships. Making sure people have clear steps and objectives to work to provides them with the ability to focus on the individual tasks at hand.
4. Consistently reviewing and updating an action plan ensures its structural integrity. As actions are completed or steps need to be added to the plan it is vital that review meetings and discussions take place. During these meetings always look at what is working well and see if it can be adapted to any other areas of the project. If there are challenges, then discussing them will open a gateway to finding solutions which may not have been obvious to someone else.
What Does Having an Action Plan Achieve?
As soon as tasks and activities start to be completed and can be measured against a working action plan, a sense of achievement is natural and drives further successes. Making sure everyone involved has an overview of the process is easily achieved by continuous communication. As individuals, people respond better to working a part of a team when they can directly see how their actions affect other team members. Communication of the overall goals should be reiterated throughout the project as it can often be easy to get up in the smaller details.
Action plans measure success and bring the smaller details of a project together to achieve the overall strategic goals required to move the organization into the future. They designate not just when actions were achieved but also how the goals were met. This information can then be adapted and utilized for other projects, and in some cases adopted as best practice solutions for the organization as a whole.
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