June 20, 2017

Action Item Tracking Excel Template Download

What are action items?

An action item is an event, task or activity that is agreed upon by all project stakeholders and is assigned to an owner who is accountable for the completion of the action.The core of a successful project meeting is to follow it up with clearly documented minutes of the meeting and action items that are distributed to all the meeting attendees. 
Action Item Tracker Excel
Action Item Tracker Excel 
This helps to summarize and create a correct understanding of the meeting objectives and ensures all team members are aware of the action items assigned to them.

An action item tracker helps in easy and efficient tracking of the tasks assigned to project members and is documented, updated and maintained by the project manager who coordinates with the assignee for the closure of these items.

About the Action Item Tracker Excel Template

  1. ID: This serves as a unique identifier for an action item and is used for reference of a particular item in a tracker. Once a task is assigned a number, it should not be changed.
  2. Date Opened: Date when the action item was identified and added to the tracker
  3. Action Item: An action item is a task that is assigned to an individual and needs to be completed within the defined timelines. E.g.: Obtain approval on the billing agreement prior to the commencement of the services to the client. In this example, the service provider requires to complete this action item before they start providing services to the client.
  4. Owner: Every action item is assigned to a project member who “owns” the task and is accountable and responsible for the closure of the item. 

  5. Priority: The level of priority denotes the importance of the action item and this helps define the items which need to be resolved with highest precedence. This field has 3 values - “High” indicates High Priority; “Medium” indicates Medium Priority and “Low” indicates Low Priority.
  6. Due Date: The target date when the action item is expected to be closed
  7. % Complete: An action item has a due date for completion and this field denotes the percentage completion of the item until the due date. This will help to identify if the action item will be completed as per the agreed timelines.
  8. Status: This field captures the current status of the action item. An action item could be “In Progress” (Yet to be resolved), “Completed”, “On Hold”, “Cancelled” (No action required) or “Not Started”
  9. Completion Date: The date when the action item is completed or closed
  10. Comments/Notes: A brief description of the current status in terms of what progress has been made on the action item is noted here starting with the date and the most recent update on the top.
Action Items Examples
Acton Item Examples
Thus, an Action Item tracker is a document created and maintained by the project manager and is used to track and monitor the post meeting items and helps keep all project members updated on the current progress on an action item.

How to handle action Items in a meeting

  • Actions items form key part of the minutes of meeting. Typically, a meeting would end with some actions for the people in the room.
  • Republish the action items few days before the meeting so that people are reminded of their tasks.
  • Recording action items during meetings can be very tricky as you are also running the meeting. If available you can request someone else to note the minutes for you.
  • Always take hard copies to the meeting so that you can scribble your notes on them. Record the action as you go. I find it easier to type them straight into your laptop or tab.
  • As a best practice read the action item from previous meeting and get a status update from people in the room.
  • Use status to clearly highlight status of action items – On Track, Delayed, WIP etc.
  • After an action item is complete it can marked as complete and moved down the list. You can delete it a later point in time.
  • If the action item is very important then ensure that you send reminder to follow up on the task.
  • Please visit our Meeting Minutes Excel Template to find out how you can manage action items with meeting minutes. 

Action Item Tracker Word Template

The action item template for word is very simple and can be prepared in a very short time. The template contains 3 very basic information about action items. The description for action item, the owner and a due date. You can highlight the delayed action items by highlighting in red color.

Action Item Tracker Word Template
Action Item Word Tracker Template

What is a rolling action item list?

Rolling action item list is a set of action items or things to do which are assigned to people with a specific end date. With a rolling action item the original list is updated to include new and remove completed items on a regular basis.

Rolling action items are typically updated before meetings or key project updates. They are typically reviewed before the meeting starts. Examples of meeting where they can be used are project updates, governance body meetings, change control meetings etc. The list of actions can be very simple and basic so that they are easily maintained.

Action items are part of almost all the levels in an organisation. For example a team meeting for a small team could result in action items, a project update could result in a set of actions for the project manager, a board meeting could trigger a series of tasks which need to be followed up, a project governance meeting could result in action items for the sponsor or the team or a simple one on one meeting with your direct report could result in a set of actions. Actions items are used in every part of the business.

Action items are a key tool for project managers as they clearly define the task, who is responsible for it and when does it have to be completed. Having a status on the action items indicates the progress of the items. As these items are reviewed during every meeting owners are forced to make sure they have an update for what is assigned to me.

What are the advantages of rolling action items and why should you use them?

Tracking with audit trail - as these items are reviewed, documented and updated every week it is for a project lead or manager to track progress. All that a PM has to do is to the action item to the list. Also, as everything is in black and white nobody can dispute about what was agreed later.
  • Accountability - When people see their names against tasks they will know they will be held accountable. They will also be aware as there would be an end date to the task and that they will need to answer when asked for an update.
  • Transparency - When you have a list of items to do and it is published or shared everyone knows who is working on which action. For example you may find out that one of your direct reports is responsible for an action which is due next week. Or your boss may find out that you did complete an action item by the due date.
  • Flexibility – Project plans or initiative tend to be very rigid in structure. Also, plans tend to touch a lot of people and can be very tricky to change the priority of tasks. With an RAIL you can easily change proprieties and assign tasks to your team. You can maintain different action items for different levels. For example a team can have its own action item list or a project can have its own action items list.
These advantages will also apply to normal action items and not necessarily to rolling action items.

Actions items in project management?

Project Managers can use action items very effectively to track project bottle necks or issues. For example if one team member raises an issue that a defect is stopping their progress then the PM can assign that task to himself or someone else who can solve the problem.

From a project management perspective actions items can be part of project meetings, status updates or governance meetings with senior stakeholders and decision makers. While it is easy for a project manager to assign action items to project team as most of the time project teams report to PM. Typically, if the action item is for one the project team members then the PM can send a reminder email to team member or his manager.

With most of the projects being run in Agile or Kanban style teams uses red cards to indicate that there in action pending. Many teams have a separate section on their scrum boards to indicate which items are blocked or have issues. As one of the objectives of Kanban boards is to make the status visible the blocked items or actions are also highlighted.

But it is can get very tricky when you are dealing with senior stakeholders or powerful people. In cases where who are dealing the powers above you maintaining a rolling action item list can be very handy. Once it is agreed that an action item will be assigned with a date then the PM can easily follow up in every meeting as it is documented. Following up with an well documented action item list makes less stressful for a PM.

Action items also form an important part of status reports and project updates to governance committees. Reporting action items in an status report again provides the visibility to everyone.

In some cases action items can be as a result of issue or risk in the project. I will explain with the below examples.

Example 1 : Urgent Issue as action item

An urgent issue has been raised as one of the developers in the team does not have an critical piece of software. This was raised during the project scrum meeting and the PM has taken an action item to get the software installed. The PM then completes the action item by following up with the relevant department to get the software installed.

Example 2: Risk Mitigation as action item

In a website go live project a risk is identified that some of the users might be impacted. A risk mitigation action item is assigned to product manager to give a heads up customers. While the customers will still be affected the impact may be less if we allow them to plan their work.
Action Item Email Follow-up
Action Item Email Follow-up

How is an action different from a task?

A task is generally part of regular project activity or day to day work. Action item are also tasks but which generally need special attention or have a dependency which is blocking some other tasks. Also, project tasks or BAU tasks can be repetitive or scheduled but action items are independent tasks which are most likely to be done once. To me action items come up on spontaneously and have short turnaround times.

Sometimes you might have tasks and action which overlap. For example when a project is starting if you plan every single detail then you may include things like getting quotations or arranging resources or meeting rooms etc. Which to be frank is not possible in all cases. In the above example getting a quotation for a software can be part of the plan but booking meeting rooms or organizing transport generally become action items.

In my personal opinion many times tasks which are initially planned become action items later. Somebody’s lack of planning becomes your emergency !

How to follow up on action items using an email?

When you have a simple set of action items it can easily be tracked within an email. In the email template for action items the we have basic information like what is the action item and who is it assigned to with a due date. One of the advantages emailing action items is that it is visible if someone has to do something.

It is always a good idea to send the email reminder at least few days before the meeting or action due date so that you can allow the person to complete the task. The email template for following up actions should be very simple and clearly highlight the owners and due dates for each of the tasks. It is a good idea to include the entire project team in the follow-up and if required managers.

Examples of Action Items

Date Opened
Action Item
Obtain API documentation from Visa, Mastercard
Daisy Barker
Get connectivity details for the development, test and production environment from Visa, Mastercard
Wendy Nunes
Raise request with the network team to establish connectivity with the vendor systems
Anita Gomez
Test the connectivity with the vendor systems
Shane Pitt
Development of the interfaces
Aditya Sehgal
Test the interfaces
Nicole Edward
Prepare API Documentation, User Manual with step by step guidelines
Tania Thomas
Complete User Acceptance Testing
Tania Thomas
Prepare release notes
John Portelli
Release to Production environment
Donald Cooper
Send out Go Live communication
Donald Cooper

No comments:

Post a Comment