An action plan is a detailed document with the description of specified actions that are required to achieve a given goal. It is a simple and efficient tool to carry out the planning and monitoring of activities. It establishes what resources are needed, as well as how and when they should be used, always with the aim of achieving this stated goal.
The action plan can be used in various activities within a company, for example:
- Customer complaint investigation
- Internal non-conformities and in audits
- Project Management
- Risk and opportunity definition
- Daily meetings
When well executed, an action plan can achieve great results for organizations, preventing and solving problems, identifying bottlenecks and achieving goals.
However, to reap the best results, it is necessary to plan all the steps of an action plan effectively through a schedule and have discipline to comply with it. Below I detail 7 essential steps to create an efficient action plan to apply in any activity that your company feels the need.
1. Define what you want to achieve with your Action Plan
The first step in creating an action plan is to clearly decide exactly what you want to achieve at the end of your execution. Therefore, setting the goal is essential to start a good plan. Goals serve as a direction; you plot a place you want to reach or something you want to achieve.
However, the essential tip you should remember is: Create measurable goals! If you’ve ever heard of “SMART goals,” this is exactly where it applies. letters of the acronym SMART:
- Time based.
To be Smart, goals need to incorporate all these criteria that will increase the chances of achieving a goal.
If you do not set clear and specific objectives, you may fail to achieve them because they will be too vague.
2. Gather, analyze, and organize data
Gather all relevant data to define actions in your plan. Subsequently, make a list of all activities necessary to achieve the pre-established goal. Each activity must be linked and assigned to a responsible person.
The distribution of activities must be carried out in conjunction with the entire team involved, so that no task is directed to the wrong person. In addition, everyone needs to be aware of the importance of achieving the goal, in addition to the deadlines to be met, which will be defined at a later stage.
3. Identify the resources required
Before starting your action plan, it is crucial to ensure that you have all the necessary resources at hand to complete the tasks. And if they’re not available at the moment, you need to first make a plan to acquire them. Therefore, there may be a need to establish a budget for the fulfillment of actions, you can, for example, assign a column of your action plan to mark the cost of each task, if any.
4. Rearrange the list and prioritize tasks
Generally, the list initially created is bulky, so it’s important to re-evaluate it. Some activities can be more difficult to achieve than others, so whenever possible, divide larger tasks into smaller parts, easier to perform, allowing better management of the action plan by both the action executors and the person responsible for monitoring the plan.
5. Set deadlines for your Action Plan
The next step is to set the deadlines for each action established in the previous step. This stage is crucial, because action plans without deadlines run the risk of never happening, that is, the goal may never be achieved.
As already informed in a previous step, it is essential that all involved in the planning of actions are consulted about the deadline, to evaluate the execution time of certain tasks. Thus, the employee can plan better for the execution of their activities, prioritizing according to their importance and urgency. It may be necessary to prioritize some actions, as they may block other secondary actions. But watch out here! Many managers often set everything as a priority. And as you know, if everything is important, then in fact nothing is. In this case, it is essential to thoroughly evaluate the tasks to understand them in order to qualify them in the best possible way.
6. Define a visual illustration
Now is the time to develop resources that can help materialize the plan. A good example for this to happen is to create a visual representation for the action plan. This graphical view will assist in engaging your team, as, in a simplified way, everyone will be able to monitor the progress of tasks. It is possible to see clearly where they are, where they should go and what they need to do for this. In the same way as for a manager and the person in charge of the action plan, a graphical representation allows you to quickly identify what is running well, what is stopped, what has already been done and what remains to be done.
7. Monitor, evaluate and update
This is the most important step in the process. It is no use defining the entire action plan, going through all the stages and forgetting it. Every successful plan has monitoring as one of its main and well-defined points. It is up to the person responsible for the plan to always be present, either to provide support or reminders.
It is possible, for example, to create a calendar of report submissions with individual or team results and create meetings to understand the difficulties and, if necessary, reassess the deadlines, activities or people responsible since we know that the reality of companies is different from what we write on the papers. But always avoid this because the ideal is to follow the plan to the end. Always review your action plan and engage your colleagues to move forward without losing focus objectives and goals.
SoftExpert Action Plan
The SoftExpert Action Plan is the best software when it comes to assisting organizations in optimizing the life cycle of the entire Action Plan, from its initial registration to approval, maintaining team communication and improving collaboration through centralized control of planning, execution and monitoring of tasks. The application is easy to use and flexible, improving the speed of execution, reliability and efficiency of tasks.