One of the essential things we do to achieve success, whether long-term or short-term, is creating goals. Goals are necessary as they motivate people to succeed and bring optimism. However, to achieve goals, there is a need for something more coherent and strategic which is to organize your goals.
How to ensure that goals are achieved? How to ensure that the whole process is well-defined for everyone involved? Well, the answer is simple: you need a successful action plan for that so that you can organize your goals. An action plan is a strategic plan that clearly defines all the activities needed to achieve the goal.
An action plan ensures that the team or individual is on the right trajectory for goal attainment. Action plans are significant for goal achievement.To put in simple words, an action plan is a prerequisite to organize your goals. Nowadays, businesses are emphasizing more on creating an action plan.
In addition, companies and individuals are finding action plans helpful for achieving personal and professional goals. All in all, action plans are required while you are organizing your goals whether it’s for personal or professional reasons.
5 Types Of Action Plans
There are several types of action plans. What action plan one adopts depends on the situation they are in. Let’s discover different types of action plans:
1. Business Action Plan
As the name goes, this action plan is widely used in the corporate sector and businesses. Often businesses make an annual or quarterly goal and create a Business Action Plan to achieve it.
2. Sales Action Plan
Sales action plans are related to all revenue generation activities. Sales action plans help in achieving sales growth and goals. A more in-depth part of this plan is monitoring customer relations and how to win new clients.
3. Marketing Action Plan
Marketing Action Plan is for sales and promotional activities. A marketing action plan ensures that the promotional and marketing strategies are executed as desired.
4. Project Action Plan
Project action plans ensure that projects are smoothly completed and seamlessly. These are often created for complex and big projects. More on this later.
5. Personal Development Action Plan
These are the sort of action plans that are created to achieve personal goals. Individuals make them. A fine example of personal development goals could be getting into shape or saving up for a new car or house.
6 Steps For The Formation Of An Action Plan
An action plan can only be effective if it is drafted with proper consideration of all the relevant steps. So now, let’s look at all the procedures for creating an action plan and how it can help you to organize your goals.
1. Getting Clear with Goals
The initial step of creating an action plan is to know the goals. Failure is inevitable if you don’t have clear ideas of how to organize your goals. Having well-defined goals means individuals or a team would have a coherent idea of what they want to achieve and what they are working on.
Another benefit of doing so is that the team assigned a specific goal would be on the same page. If goals are not clearly defined, confusion will result in deteriorating performances and failures.
Whether you are working on a business or personal goal, one thing to remember in goal planning is the SMART strategy.
- Specific: Your goals have to be definite, and they shouldn’t be ambiguous. For example, if you want to lose some weight, then this goal’s specification would be, I would lose 22 pounds this summer. A corporate example of this would be, We are planning to achieve 7% revenue growth this quarter.
- Measurable: Your goals should be measurable, and there should be a way to track progress; otherwise, you wouldn’t know how efficiently you are working to attain them. The examples mentioned above of both personal and professional goals are trackable and can be easily monitored at any step.
- Attainable: Goals should be as such that they can be achieved. This means that goals shouldn’t be improbable. It is good to dream big, and there is nothing wrong with trying to reach the utmost, but you should never lose touch with reality. For example, planning to achieve a goal like revenue growth of 50% in a year is impossible. By this, it doesn’t mean that your goals should be easy to achieve, but they shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve. Otherwise, they would do more harm than good.
- Relevant: Every activity should be pertinent and aligned with the goals. This means that when you or your team is working on achieving a goal, the whole focus should be on it, not on any other thing. For example, suppose a business sets a goal of revenue maximization. In that case, it shouldn’t focus on cost reduction or anything else. By aligning activities with the goal, there is no room for distraction.
- Time-bound: A goal must have a completion date. Goals should have a specific time span within which these could be attained. For example, if the goal is an 8% increase in profit, then there should be a time span for it, like a quarter, half a year, or the current year. Time tracking while checking the progress of an action plan is crucial.
In an action plan, the goals should be defined considering all the steps of the SMART strategy mentioned above. This we help in bringing clarity to your action plan and help you to organize your goals in the right manner. For example, if you are working on personal goals, you would have a coherent idea and know-how of goals. If a business organization follows the SMART strategy, it would be on the same page.
2. Documentation and Task Identification
The next step of the action plan after defining goals is enlisting all the steps to be followed. For any goal, a set of activities should be followed. These are the operational and day-to-day activities relating to the goal. If these activities are ignored, goals and objectives can’t be achieved.
One of the essential steps in this process is assigning everyone their prevalent task if operations are carried out in a team. Although teams work collectively, the whole task is divided into smaller sub-task and then split to separate individuals. While doing so, it should be mentioned in the action plan what task is assigned to whom to avoid confusion and misunderstanding. Also, the due dates of the task should be mentioned too.
The action plan should document all relevant operational activities relating to goals. Doing so is helpful in many ways. Firstly, if this is done for personal and professional goals, then a person or business would know what pathways are to be followed to achieve goals and objectives. Secondly, as everything is well documented in the action plan, then anyone could look up to it and wouldn’t forget any key step. Thirdly, with documentation in the action plan, everyone could be brought up to speed so that goals are effectively achieved.
3. Allocation of resources
Once all the documentation is carried out, the next step of the action plan would be allocating resources. It is one of the crucial parts of framing an action plan. Allocation of resources means acquiring all those resources that can help a person or team achieve goals or objectives.
While creating an action plan, it is essential to allocate appropriate resources. Otherwise, operational activities can’t be carried out. The resources could be of any type, depending on the task or project. This could be financial funding, acquiring new machinery, employing new staff, or implementing new software applications.
These resources would prove to be the accelerator in achieving the end goal. Therefore, in an action plan, it should be mentioned what resources will be used. An example of this will be if a manufacturing firm plans to increase their output by 10,000 units. It would need to acquire new machinery that can help them to produce. This thing should also be mentioned in the action plan.
4. Prioritization of Task
Prioritization of tasks is highly crucial. When all the procedures are followed while you organize your goals like goal setting, documentation, and allocation of resources are done, an individual or a team has to identify what tasks are essential and can’t be delayed.
While achieving a goal, a set of tasks came into action. Some of these tasks are time-consuming, complicated, and predecessor to other tasks. By identifying these tasks, teams or individuals can set them as priorities, finish them off first, and then carry on with other tasks.
Above a term, the predecessor is mentioned. If you are unfamiliar with this, then don’t worry. We will guide you through it. In task management and goal setting, when the flow chart of a task is created and its subtasks are defined, the sub-tasks are divided into two parts P(Predecessor) and S(Successor). The P should be done before S, as S depends on P. If the P is not done, then S wouldn’t be done either. For example, the P(Predecessor) task is acquiring new machinery, and S(Successor) task is the installation of that machinery. In this case, P should be done first so that new machinery is acquired and the S would be conducted, which is its installation.
5. Making Deadlines and Identifying Milestones
In an action plan, there should be a way to set a deadline, no matter the nature of the task, whether it’s a high-priority or low-priority task. While you organize your goals there should be a way to set deadlines for every task.
Setting deadlines is critical. Any project or task should have its timeline. Why is this necessary? When deadlines are set, the level of focus on a particular task increases. This ensures the delivery of high-quality work. Suppose individual employees or teams have deadlines for specific projects. In that case, this will create a sense of urgency, and there won’t be any procrastination. Lastly, deadlines are important because they help individuals and teams to become timely-efficient.
In a project and task, there are milestones. If you don’t know what these are, then we will assist you in getting aware of this term. Milestones are commonly used as a symbol for the beginning and end of a task. What makes milestones so important is that they help managers keep the senior management up to date regarding the progress of the project. In addition, milestones help teams and individuals track the project’s schedule. Lastly, milestones ensure consistency in a project’s overall processes and procedures.
When things are visualized in graphical representation, they are easily comprehend. Gantt charts are helpful graphical representations that can help in giving a rundown of the prioritized tasks, deadlines, and milestones.
6. Evaluation and Revision
The last step of an action plan is continuous evaluation and revision of all tasks and priorities. This is extremely important to do. However, your action plan shouldn’t be rigid and inflexible. If the action plan offers flexibility, then immediate changes can be implemented according to the changing situation.
The evaluation and revision process of the action plan also includes monitoring the progress of the task. All the tasks that have been completed should be reviewed to ensure that they are done efficiently and effectively. An action plan can only be optimized if the monitoring and evaluation process is done correctly. These steps also let you know whether you have organized your goals effectively.
Are Project Plan and Action Plan Same?
Project and action plans are used interchangeably, as they have similarities. Still, they are different and shouldn’t be considered the same. Although if the steps of the project plan are listed down, there is a resemblance with the project plan. What makes the project plan different from the action plan is one factor.
Firstly, project plans are more detailed than action plans, which often results in complicated project plans. Therefore, when doing effective project management, the concept shouldn’t be Action Plan vs. Project Plan, but rather Action Plan with Project Plan.
After creating a project plan, an action plan should be made. The action plan would help streamline the procedures of the project plan. Remember that the action plan and project plan both complement each other.
The Bottom Line
We have gone through all the details of an action plan and left no stone unturned to help you understand A-Z of an action plan. Now that we have made this much effort, it is your time to regularly use these action plans to achieve your life or business goals and organize your goals using action plans.
Remember that the benefits of an action plan are only optimized if all its steps are adequately followed. Lastly, drafting action plans manually to organize your goals while using paper can be hectic, so what to do? Well, then you need a software solution called Week Plan.
Week Plan is one of the most effective task management software which can also be helpful to organize your goals. Week Plan offers numerous services like goal planners, life planners, daily planners, and many more. It is also the best tool for goal-setting and tracking time over tasks and activities.