As a result of a strategic planning activity, an organization will likely have 6-12 significant strategic priorities or initiatives identified that combine to move the organization in a specific strategic direction. For each of these priority initiatives, we recommend developing detailed action plans to ensure that each of the initiatives are brought to completion. A comprehensive action plan details the objectives to be achieved, deliverables, the steps, responsibilities, costs and timetables. Action plans have several advantages:

  • The organization can confirm that the resources required to implement the strategy are worth the benefit gained.
  • The deliverables and steps define for the implementation team when the initiative is completed.
  • The organization has a road map for monitoring progress in accomplishing the initiative.
  • All action plans can be summarized to identify resource requirements and to develop a resource plan to meet those requirements.

The Steps in Creating an Action Plan

We recommend the following steps in developing an action plan.

  1. Assign a member of the strategic planning team (or a department represented by the planning team member) as the “owner” of each action plan.
  2. Determine the key results (deliverables) for the strategy. Answer the question, “When we are done, what will we have in our hands? What will we have accomplished?”
  3. For each deliverable, list the major activities in chronological order.
  4. For each activity, identify the person responsible and due date. In setting dates, you may find it helpful to first put a date on the last activity and then work backward to the first activity.
  5. If more than one person has responsibility, both names should appear. The name of the person with primary responsibility should appear first.
  6. For consistency use a “verb-object” format: start each action with a verb followed by the objects acted upon (e.g., “Implement and evaluate first pilot program”)
  7. Estimate the out of pocket costs to accomplish each activity and the amount of internal time required (staff hours or labor hours).
  8. Once all individual activities have been estimated, record the total cost, staff hours and due date.

Quality Check

  • How do you ensure that you have written a solid action plan? Here is the quality check we recommend.
  • If all the actions are done, will the deliverables be created and the strategy be completed? If not, additional actions are needed.
  • Have you identified the person responsible and the due date for each action? Without accountability, it will be very easy for the strategy to stall.
  • Is each action step a clear activity? For example, “analyze survey results” is vague. When is the activity done? Better actions would be “Prepare survey report” or “Develop recommendations from survey results.”

Sample Action Plan

The action plan that follows gives a sample of each of the components of an action plan.

StrategyS1. WE WILL DEVELOP A BEST-IN-CLASS PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
Objective(s): SupportedC1.Achieve product development cycle time of 4 months C2.Achieve product development cycle time variation of 10% for breakthrough products.
Owner:Engineering
Deliverables:Description of the recommended product development process Results from testing the recommendations in a pilot program Plan for implementing the recommendations company-wide
Due Date: 12/31/XXPerson Months: YYYTotal Costs: $XXX,XXX
Action StepResponsibilityDueCostPerson-Mths
1.Identify potential consultantsMarketingQ1xxxyyy
2.Select consultantMarketing/ PresidentQ1xxxyyy
3.Finalize consultant contractMarketing/ PresidentQ1xxxyyy
4.Allocate people internally to work on team with consultantMarketing/ EngineeringQ1xxxyyy
5.Outline the current product development process, strengths and weaknessesTeamQ2xxxyyy
6.Benchmark against other organizationsTeamQ2xxxyyy
7.Define the product development processTeamQ2xxxyyy
8.Present and gain approval for pilot testTeam, Exec CommitteeQ2xxxyyy
9.Implement and evaluate pilot programTeamQ3-Q4xxxyyy
10.Revise product development processTeamQ5xxxyyy
11.Gain approval for implementationTeam, Exec CommitteeQ5xxxyyy
12.Implement recommended processTeamQ6xxxyyy

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