Action plan: example and milestones

Action plan definition: document or file listing the different steps to achieve an objective. The achievement is broken down into specific actions allocated to one or more people. The aim is to prioritise these actions so that they follow on from and complement each other. The action plan is usually written in the form of a table showing the actions, the resources needed in terms of time, skills, budget and technical means, as well as the person responsible for the action and/or stage.

How to make an effective action plan and stick to it?

The starting point for any action plan is to achieve a goal. Keeping it constantly in focus will help you stay on course to achieve the milestones.
Here’s how to make an effective action plan:

Define a clear goal;
make a list of all the steps needed to complete the project;
prioritise each action by detailing its function;
Determine the skills, budgets and resources needed;
Designate the people responsible for these actions and involve them in the project;
Set the project deadline, milestones and the recurrence of certain actions with their frequency;
set up a comparison with what is expected (success criteria).

In order to stick to the action plan, the objective must be SMART: specific, measurable, ambitious, realistic and time-bound. A weekly progress review is one of the best ways to ensure the success of the action plan. All these elements will become performance indicators and will help to keep the objective in mind.

What is an effective action plan?

An effective action plan is defined by a clear and concise vision of the objective and the steps.
The action plan template can be produced using Excel, for example, and the 5W2H (What? Who? Where? When? How? How much? Why?) method.

The development should be comprehensive, showing all the elements and actors of the project. Decision support software will also help you to develop an effective action plan template.

The action plan for operational excellence

Operational excellence means setting up improvement processes by increasing the group’s productivity, while trying to reduce costs, involving employees and getting them to become more efficient.

The action plan therefore becomes the essential tool for the project actors who can refer to it to measure progress towards the objective as well as their own performance.

Writing an action plan to follow up your SteerCo meetings?

The action plan method applies perfectly to your management committee meetings. Any function involved in steering the company will be satisfied with a decision-making tool calibrated for the company’s own projects.

Here is an example of an action plan adapted to a SteerCo:

  • Draw up an agenda ;
  • Summarise the actions of the previous meeting
  • List and invite the key players;
  • Ensure that information is evenly distributed among the participants;
  • Transmit the minutes as soon as possible after the SteerCo.

The benefits of creating an action plan for a digital transformation project

Engaging the company in a digital transformation project will roll out the project action plan. The objective of going digital includes step-by-step elements such as new technological resources and new skills. The project action plan allows the development of the complete path.

A tool to manage your action plans?

Making an action plan in Excel: is it really a good idea?

While an Excel action plan can provide a basis for work, there are more advanced and practical tools. Priorities and resources will appear on an Excel sheet, but an action plan only makes sense if it is shared by all those involved in the implementation. As such, decision support software offers real-time information sharing. Some of them are able to integrate with the application you already use for your meetings (Teams, Slack, Zoom, etc.).

Writing an effective action plan: good practice

Good practices for writing an effective action plan :

  • define precisely the objective to be achieved;
  • agree on the method with simple actions;
  • interest all stakeholders with an intuitive and user-friendly tool;
  • share all information;
  • Keep the action plan alive and evolving;
  • report to everyone on a weekly basis.

Why invest in a meeting and action plan management tool?

Investing in an action plan management tool offers features to achieve unparalleled performance against a spreadsheet. A simple spreadsheet may be useful at first, but will quickly become outdated in the face of user needs.

Accessing information in real time or sharing data is the main function. The major advantage of these tools lies in a gain in productivity through a clear vision of the whole project and its progress.

Action plan management software: how to make the right choice?

Choosing action plan management software will propel your work group towards a serious and professional implementation of your project. These programs are designed specifically for managing meetings and setting up action plans.

Some points to consider when choosing action plan management software:

  • manager and user dashboard ;
  • parameterisation of input masks;
  • the possibility of attaching documents to certain actions
  • resource and cost directories;
  • extraction of performance, data, statistics;
  • printing of reports;
  • user portal ;
  • email management;
  • scalable security;
  • multilingual interface;
  • regular updates;
  • technical support;
  • demonstration and training for users.