Action Plans: 7 Questions, 7 Answers (Excel templates)

Write your Action Plan so that it is achievable, measurable, and effective.

When writing your next action plan to achieve a particular goal or outcome, use the following guidelines to reach your objective faster.

[Get MS Word and Excel Action Plan templates here]

Action Plans: 7 Frequently Asked Questions

Keep it simple and focus on what you want to achieve.

Once you know this, write the Action Plan to reflect where you want to go.

Remember, to make this useful, create goals, tasks, and measurements that are easy to implement, assess and update.

1. What is your Goal?

Identify what is your primary goal and write around this.

One suggestion is to use a white board and mind-map the tasks you need to perform and use these are a reference point when creating the tasks.

Another suggestion is to create a pyramid with goal number 1 at the top, then the second and work your way down.

2. What Actions do you need to perform?

Once you know what needs to be achieved, list all the actions you need to perform to get there.

Say you want to increase Sales by twenty percent. Or you want to apply for a new university.

Create an Excel file and enter each and every task you need to do to realize this goal.

Leave nothing out as they all need to be performed, regardless of how minor they seem to be.

It’s often the small things that trip us up, right?

3. What is your Priority?

Let’s say you have fifty tasks you need to compete for the Sales project. At first it seems over-whelming.

The list runs to several pages when printed out!

To make it more manageable, assign High, Medium and Low to each task.

Use an Excel spreadsheet to create your Action Plan template so you can filter the results and see your progress.

Action item Log

[Get MS Word and Excel Action Plan templates here]

As you execute the Action Plan, update the template by changing the status column.

You can also use this for Project Management activities, such as Progress Reports.

4. What Action Steps Do you need to complete?

Now that you know what needs to be done, which is most important, the next step is to describe how to do each step.

This means you need to write the ‘action steps’ so that others who are not familiar with the project, can read the document and perform the tasks.

5. What is the Correct Sequence?

Check that that sequence of each step is correct.

This is to ensure that the tasks are performed in the correct sequence and that the user does not get confused when trying to perform the task.

Where possible, collapse or merge tasks into the same activity. However only do this when it benefits the document and makes the plan more effective.

6. How do I Monitor Results?

Once you have published the action plan, see where it can be improved by gathering feedback and observing how others use the plan.

Don’t expect your plan to be perfect the first time. Make the corrections, update the document history, and publish the revised version.

7. How do I Write a Better Action Plan?

To make your Action Plan more useful, use simple terms, positive language and keep each step focused on one activity. See the Business Process Tutorial for examples of how to write action steps.

[Get MS Word and Excel Action Plan templates here]

Conclusion

You can make your Action Plans more useful when they are tied to specific goals. Where most projects fall into difficulties is when the tasks cannot be performed by the right person within the timeframes.

Next week, I will show you how to test you Action Plan so they achieve the right results when implemented.

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