very strategic plan needs an action plan to bring it to life. It’s the roadmap that will show you how you’ll reach your objectives.
An action plan details the concrete steps needed to attain your goals—usually covering the coming year—a timetable for each task, a description of who will do what and a follow-up process.
The action plan is typically created at the end of the strategic planning process, after you’ve set out your vision, done a SWOT analysis and established objectives. Here are the steps for creating your action plan.
Involve your team—You’ll get the best team buy-in if as many employees as possible are involved in creating the action plan. Employees can give invaluable input on what steps are needed to achieve your objectives and how best to implement them. As well, they are more likely to work diligently on implementation if they are involved in the process from the outset.
List actions—The core of the action plan is a list of tasks for achieving your objectives. They can include everything from arranging financing to buying equipment or a vehicle, hiring staff with specific expertise or developing a website. Each action should be clearly described so as to avoid confusion later on.
Set a timeline—Now establish a timeframe for achieving each action.
Designate resources—Name who will be responsible for each action. Also outline what other resources (money, equipment, personnel) you’ll need to carry out the action.
Establish a follow-up and measurement process—Spell out how you will follow up on the action plan to ensure the steps are carried out. This can include internal reporting and regular meetings held to discuss the plan’s progress. Also specify the measures you will use to track implementation. These can include both milestones, such as the completion of certain tasks, and quantifiable measures, such as revenue or market share.
Communicate the plan—Make sure all employees are aware of the action plan, including their role in implementing it. Explain how the plan fits into your overall business strategy.
Keep the plan alive—When you get started on implementing your action plan, you should be disciplined about sticking to the follow-up and measurement process you’ve outlined. It’s also useful to recognize employees for meeting or surpassing their responsibilities and hold them accountable for failing to do so. Discussing the action plan internally on a regular basis is a good way to keep your entire strategic plan alive and at the forefront of employees’ attention. Invite employee feedback on how the implementation is going. In follow-up meetings to discuss your progress, it’s also important to revisit your action plan regularly and to continually update it. Allowing your action plan to be surpassed by developments in your company is a sure way for it to fall into disuse, which could cause your entire business strategy to unravel. After the 12 months are up, it’s time to create a new action plan for the following year, drawing on your overall business strategy and lessons you’ve learned so far.