An action plan is a strategic roadmap detailing specific steps to achieve predefined goals within a set timeframe. It outlines tasks, responsibilities, and timelines, serving as a guiding blueprint for success in endeavors, whether personal, professional, or organizational.
Things to do when you are creating an Action Plan
- Start with understanding the reason why you need an action plan. You need to understand why you must use an action plan and not as a project or a simple task.
- Typically, you would be solving a problem or fixing something, so understand the problem, and always good to have a timeline of things that have unfolded.
- Reviewing the Root Cause Analysis or Project Closure document will give you some background on the issue for which an action is required.
- Write down the end objective or goals of the action plan. Ideally, have a max of 2 or 3 goals per action plan.
Action Plan Template Excel
- Understand the steps involved in fixing the issue and develop 3 – 4 high-level tasks that can be tracked in blocks of 3 -5 days.
- Understand the business impact of what you are trying to do. It helps motivate people if you have real-life or financial impact information about a given issue.
- Publish and review the draft with senior managers beforehand to avoid surprises.
- Ensure the plan is published to everyone affected by the issue or will be part of the action plan. So, if you need resources or assets from someone's team, then they should be on the distribution list.
- Include all the powerful people on the distribution list to ensure you get the support required.
- Always include buffer or contingency in your timeline for the plan so that you can accommodate unknown. There will always something or someone who will have a different priority.
- Clearly, list out the dependencies and resources you need to make the plan actionable. Without getting a commitment to resource availability and assets, the plan is bound to fail.
- Seek approval from key stakeholders in writing for the final plan—one easy to organize a meeting and walk everyone through the plan in the meeting. Then as a follow-up, send minutes of the meeting to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Publish the updated action plan regularly(after the initial publish) so that people know how it is tracking. If you do not provide, everyone will assume that everything is on track and the plan is on track.
Action Plan Risks and Issues
About the Action Plan Excel Template
This Action plan template allows for planning and execution; it can also be used as a status report for the plan.
- The template starts by capturing the basic information about the title or name, description, date and time when the plan was drafted, and the nominated champion.
- The nominated champion is the person who will own and run this initiative will do the co-ordination tasks, including drafting and maintain this plan.
Goals and Objectives
- This section should clearly document the goals or objectives you want to achieve by implementing this action plan.
- Try to keep the goals to 2 -3 maximum so that you and everyone reading the document is clear about your objectives.
- The action plan timeline should contain the start and end times of the high-level phase on the plan with % progress.
- The status should be On Track if all is good, Worry if it might slip, and Bad if already delayed. When you have a status Worry or Bad, always enter a comment as senior management will want to know why the task had not progressed as planned.
Risks and Impact Assessment
- An action plan drives change in some of the other forms. With any new change comes to an inherent risk of something not working as expected or, at the least, people not accepting the change.
- In this part of the plan, you will first assess the impact of this change on business, customers, technology, brand, etc.
- You must highlight the right risk levels. If things go south after the action plan is implemented, you will prove that you had raised these issues upfront. You should also include any risks associated with the plan.
- The risk could use users not accepting the solution, change in process, or implementing a fix that is not 100% tested.
- Ensure you use this opportunity to get the attention of whatever concerns you have.
Resources and Dependencies
- Use this part of the action plan to document all the dependencies and resources you need to implement.
- Ensure to note different people you will need from other teams.
- With dependency, highlight any potential tasks or events that may be pre-cursor to successfully completing the action plan.
Action Plan Goals
Action Plan Excel Template Example
Issue/Plan: Fix Memory Leak Issues in Test Servers
Date and Time: 12th Jan 2016
Description: Due to the recent software upgrade, some test servers have an issue of memory leak and often stop responding during integration testing.
Goals and Objectives
- Identify the root cause of the issue by analyzing all the clusters.
- Present the findings to CCB (Change Control Board).
- Test and develop a break-fix patch with the fix.
- Run performance tests on servers to ensure the fix has worked.
- Provide maximum time to the first task as that is a more exploratory type task and could take longer or shorter depending on the issue.
- Also, depending on how fast your organizations can promote changes pick a week for the rest of the tasks.
- Like mentioned before, ensure you have allocated an adequate buffer.
Risks and Assessment Impact
- The business and customer impact should below as this is a test environment.
- There could be potential technology impact depending on the issue found.
- If the underlying issue is severe, then it would need a major change in the technology stack.
- The initial step might reveal a much more complex problem which could mean the timeline expands.
- The resources allocated to the task are not full-time, so they may not be fully effective if they break their analysis into parts.
- The fix might need complex changes to the architecture, which might need more resources.
- ABAP developer needed for two weeks.
- The plan is dependent on projects finishing on time/ if the project gets delayed, then the plan will need to be revised.
- QA resource required to do performance testing.