Businesses irrespective of their nature or the kind of products or services they deal in thrive on a well-planned approach. A lack of a proper plan can amount to a total disruption of the day to day functioning of the organization. It can also jeopardize the company’s need to enhance its revenues and make more profits. This is why most organizations hire experts who formulate special plans for the various projects and functions that go on in the company. Known as action plans, following these ensure that the organization would function without any unnecessary mix-ups, confusion or delays.
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An action plan is a step by step plan to be undertaken when working on a project or managing a function. The plan comprises of all the important tasks that should be accomplished to complete a project successfully. However, just listing down the tasks is not enough. One needs to make sure that the tasks are carried out in a systematic manner and at the most opportune time.
This is where the action plan comes into play. This is a document where the concerned authority lists down steps that should be followed to complete a project in a perfect manner. Thus, this plan comprises of the people who are involved in the project, what they are supposed to do, when should they do their tasks etc.
An action plan however need not be just for an organization. It can also be used to designate the various steps for an individual working on a project. This could be anything from passing an exam to inventing something. In such cases, the individual is required to list all the steps that he thinks would help him to fulfill a particular task and help him gain the desired results.
The advantage of an action plan is not just confined to the fact that it helps to define the steps for fulfilling a task. It also helps the person in charge to keep a tab on the progress of the project and where the people involved in the project lie, as far as their performance is concerned. Thus, using this plan can actually help people to understand where they stand while also being an encouragement to them to improve. Action plan also gives the user an idea about the amount of time he or she can spend on a particular task.
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Designing a good action plan is really not as easy as it seems. It actually requires a lot of forethought. It should be noted that a bad action plan can be a serious deterrent to a project and can even ruin its outcome. Hence, to ensure that an action plan is a good one, it is imperative that these criteria be a part and parcel of it.
- Specificity – When designing the steps for an action plan, it is very important that the person in charge is specific about all the steps. Vague directions would just not do. He should specify what and how a particular step should be carried out. the In case of teamwork, it is also advisable to name the person who would be responsible for each step.
- Measurable Results – The results that one gains from an action plan should be measurable and these should be specified in the plan document. After all, this is how the person responsible for keeping a tab on the progress of the plan would be able to gauge every step and decide on its success. It is also important to ensure that each step is defined based on the results that it will bring and the way these will contribute to the project.
- Consent – Though the action plan may be designed by one person, it is extremely important that all the people working on the project are in agreement with the steps. This is what will ensure the success of the project as a whole.
- Time Bound – Every step of an action plan should be time bound as this will ensure the completion of the project well within the stipulated time.
- Realistic – An action plan is ought to be realistic. The persons working on it should have goals that are achievable and steps that are well within their abilities.
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Action plans have an important role to play in the success of a business which is why most organizations swear by this methodology. However, even individuals can reap benefits by developing an action plan. Take a look at some of the main reasons why one should develop an action plan for business or otherwise.
- Clear Idea of the Goal – Sometimes in all the frenzy and tension of completing a project, people tend to forget about the ultimate goal which they are working for. They should even get side tracked due to competition or other problems. However, having an action plan means that the people involved in the project are always aware of what they are working towards and thus would in no way lose their focus due to other inconsequential things.
- Responsibilities are assigned – With an action plan in place the person in charge of the project can easily assign the responsibilities to the people working on it, in a systematic and organized manner. This way, he can be sure that no one makes an excuse about being unaware of their actions or goals. This also makes it easier for the leader to designate a time for each step, thus ensuring that there are no unnecessary delays.
- Breaking Tougher Goals into Simpler Tasks – Not all goals are easy to achieve. But, if there is an action plan, it becomes easier to accomplish these. Wondering how? Well, with an action plan, you can break a task into many smaller, less complex steps, thus making it easier for the people to reach the goal. As they accomplish one step at a time, they surely find this easy.
- Keeping a Tab on Progress – If you don’t have a plan, it would not be possible to keep a tab on the work in progress. However, when you have an action plan, you designate steps to every individual along with the time. This surely simplifies the whole tracking process as you would always know who is on the track and who is behind schedule.
An action plan can help in completing a task or project in a systematic, uncomplicated manner. This is why experts recommend the use of these plan for business as well as personal projects.
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