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Blog What is an Action Plan & How to Write One [With Examples]

What is an Action Plan & How to Write One [With Examples]

Written by: Danesh Ramuthi Oct 26, 2023

action plan

An action plan is a meticulously structured strategy that pinpoints specific steps, tasks and resources vital to turning a goal into reality. It is extremely useful in any project management. 

Crafting an action plan is like plotting a route for a cross-country journey. It’s the strategic map that outlines every step, decision and pitstop needed to reach your ultimate destination.

With a well-thought-out action plan, you’re not just shooting in the dark; you’re making informed, purposeful strides towards your goals. Dive deep with our guide and witness real-world examples that will inspire and guide you.

Need a tool to kickstart your planning? Try out the Venngage business plan maker and explore their extensive collection of action plan templates .

Click to jump ahead: 

What is the purpose of an action plan?

When to develop an action plan, 7 components of a actions plan, 15 action plan examples.

  • How to Write an action plan?

Final thoughts

An action plan serves as a strategic tool designed to outline specific steps, tasks and goals necessary to achieve a particular objective.

Its primary purpose is to provide a clear roadmap and direction for individuals, teams or organizations to follow in order to efficiently and effectively accomplish their goals. 

Action plans break down complex projects into manageable, actionable components, making it easier to track progress and stay on course.

Moreover, action plans play a crucial role in fostering accountability and coordination among team members. By assigning responsibilities and deadlines for each task or milestone, they ensure that everyone involved is aware of their roles and the overall timeline, reducing confusion and enhancing teamwork. 

Additionally, action plans help in resource allocation, budgeting and risk management by enabling stakeholders to identify potential challenges and plan for contingencies. 

Overall, the purpose of an action plan is to transform abstract goals into concrete actions, making them more achievable and measurable while ensuring that the resources and efforts are aligned with the desired outcomes.

Developing an action plan is crucial when you’re looking to achieve a specific goal or outcome. Here are instances when you should consider developing an action plan:

  • Start of an organization : Ideally, an action plan should be developed within the first six months to one year of the start of an organization. This initial plan lays the groundwork for the future direction and growth of the entity.
  • Project initiation : At the start of any project, an action plan helps to clearly define the tasks, responsibilities, and timelines.
  • Goal setting : Whenever you or your organization sets a new goal. Action plans transform these goals from abstract ideas into concrete steps.
  • Strategic planning : For long-term visions and missions, action plans break down the journey into manageable pieces, each with its timeline and responsible parties.
  • Performance improvement : If there are areas where performance is lacking, whether it’s personal or organizational, an action plan can outline the steps needed to elevate performance.

An action plan is a detailed outline that breaks down the steps necessary to achieve a specific goal. Here are the typical components of an action plan.

1. Objective or Goal

The cornerstone of your action plan is the objective or goal. This should be a clear and concise statement outlining the desired outcome or result. Having a well-defined objective provides a direction and purpose to the entire plan, ensuring all tasks and actions are aligned towards achieving this singular aim.

2. Tasks or Actions

Once the objective is set, the next step is to list down the specific tasks or actions required to achieve this goal. These tasks should be broken down into detailed steps, ensuring no essential activity is overlooked. The granularity of these tasks can vary based on the complexity of the goal.

3. Set deadline

For each task or action, set a realistic and achievable deadline. This timeline ensures that the plan stays on track and that momentum is maintained throughout the execution. It also allows for monitoring progress and identifying potential delays early.

4. Resources needed to complete the project

It’s crucial to recognize and list the resources you’ll need to complete the tasks. This can encompass financial resources, human resources, equipment, technological tools or any other assets. Identifying these early ensures that there are no bottlenecks during execution due to a lack of necessary resources.

5. Person responsible

Assign a person or a team for each task. This designation ensures accountability and clarity. When individuals are aware of their responsibilities, it reduces overlap, confusion and ensures that every task has someone overseeing its completion.

6. Potential barriers or challenges

Every plan will face challenges. By anticipating potential barriers or obstacles, you can be better prepared to address them. This proactive approach ensures smoother execution and less reactionary problem-solving.

7. Measurement of key performance indicators (KPIs)

Determine how you’ll measure the success of each task or the plan overall. KPIs are tangible metrics that allow you to gauge progress and determine whether you’re moving closer to your goals and objectives. They offer a quantifiable means to evaluate success.

Action plans serve as blueprints, guiding the steps and resources needed to achieve a specific goal. 

They come in various formats, tailored to different scenarios and objectives. Here, we present a range of action plan examples that cater to diverse purposes and situations. 

From business strategies to simple task lists, these examples illustrate the versatility and importance of well-structured planning.

Business action plan example

A business action plan is essentially a strategy roadmap, meticulously tailored for realizing broader business objectives. By crafting a solid action plan, businesses can channel their resources, manpower and strategies in a direction that harmonizes with their larger vision.

Purple Business Action Plan Template

Key to this plan is the identification and alignment of steps that resonate with the company’s comprehensive strategy, ambitions of growth and aspirations for operational enhancements. 

While this might entail a myriad of specific steps based on unique business goals, some common elements include setting clear key performance indicators (KPIs), undertaking a thorough SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to grasp the current business landscape and establishing a timeline to keep track of progress.

Business Action Plan Template

Furthermore, allocating responsibilities to team members or individuals ensures that every aspect of the strategy has a dedicated focus. Budgeting, essential to the success of the action plan, ensures that every initiative is financially viable and sustainable. 

Red Business Action Plan Template

Regular reviews and iterations based on feedback and changing market dynamics keep the action plan agile and relevant.

Related: 5 Steps to Create an Actionable Employee Development Plan [with Templates & Examples]

Company action plan example

A comprehensive company action plan serves as the strategic linchpin, ensuring a coherent and coordinated approach to realizing organizational goals. Central to this plan is the incorporation of rigorous market research and analysis, which provides insights into consumer behaviors, market trends and potential opportunities. 

Clean Green And Gray Action Plan

Equally vital is the focus on product development and procurement, ensuring that the offerings align with market demands and stand out in terms of quality and relevance. 

Alongside, adept legal and financial management safeguards the company’s interests, ensuring compliance with regulations and prudent fiscal oversight.

Simple Green And Orange Company Action Plan

Moreover, the essence of any successful company action plan lies in its sales and marketing strategies. These define how the products or services are positioned and promoted in the market, ensuring visibility and engagement with the target audience. 

Navy And Yellow Modern Minimalist Action Plan

However, while acquisition is crucial, retention plays an equally significant role. Hence, impeccable customer service and nurturing relationships become indispensable components, fostering loyalty and ensuring that clients remain ambassadors for the brand long after the initial transaction.

Related: 30+ Project Plan Examples to Visualize Your Strategy (2023)

Sales action plan example

A well-structured sales action plan serves as the backbone for systematic and efficient progress. Central to this plan is the identification and utilization of the most effective sales channels, whether they are direct, online or through third-party avenues. 

Strategic Food Sales Action Plan Template

Clarity on the products and services on offer, combined with their unique selling propositions, facilitates tailored and resonant sales pitches. 

Budget considerations ensure that resources are judiciously allocated, balancing the act between expenditures and potential returns. This financial prudence is complemented by setting realistic sales projections, which act as both a motivational target and a yardstick for success.

Timelines, or proposed deadlines, infuse the process with a sense of urgency, ensuring that the momentum of the sales drive is maintained. 

how to write action plan for business

However, the true measure of the action plan’s efficacy lies in its key performance indicators (KPIs). These metrics, be it lead conversion rates or customer retention figures, serve as tangible markers, highlighting the plan’s strengths and signaling areas that might require recalibration to increase sales.

Food Retailer Sales Action Plan Template

Corrective action plan example

The essence of a corrective action plan lies in its meticulous structure, tailored to address and rectify deviations or inefficiencies identified within an organization. At its core, each action item serves as a focal point, detailing specific areas or processes that require intervention. 

Black and Green Corrective Action Plan

Accompanying each action item is a clear description that provides a comprehensive understanding of the issue at hand. 

However, merely identifying a problem isn’t enough; delving deep into its origins through root cause analysis ensures that solutions target the fundamental issues, rather than just addressing superficial symptoms. 

Green Minimalist Corrective Action Plan

This analysis then paves the way for defining the corrective action, a tangible step or series of steps designed to mitigate the identified problem and prevent its recurrence.

Besides, to ensure the plan’s effectiveness, assigning a responsible person to each action item is paramount. This individual or team is entrusted with the task’s execution, ensuring accountability and focus. 

how to write action plan for business

The status of each action keeps stakeholders informed about the progress, be it in the planning phase, ongoing, or completed. 

Lastly, setting a due date for each corrective action introduces a sense of urgency and purpose, ensuring that issues are addressed in a timely manner, minimizing disruptions and maximizing operational efficiency.

Simple action plan example

A simple action plan strips away the layers of complexity, offering a concise and direct approach to achieving a goal or addressing an issue. This type of plan is characterized by its straightforward structure, devoid of extraneous details, yet powerfully effective in its clarity. 

It is specifically designed for tasks or objectives that don’t necessitate elaborate strategies or multi-layered approaches.

White and Red Simple Corrective Action Plan

The core components of a simple action plan usually include a clear statement of the task or objective at hand, followed by a sequence of actions or steps to be taken. 

Each step is described succinctly, ensuring that anyone involved has a clear understanding of what is expected. Responsibilities are defined clearly, with each task allocated to an individual or a team, ensuring accountability. Timelines might be integrated, providing a clear framework for completion, even if they’re just broad milestones. 

Simple Yellow And Black Action Plan

Regular check-ins or assessments, although minimal, might be incorporated to monitor progress. 

The beauty of a simple action plan lies in its agility and adaptability, making it particularly suited for individual projects, short-term tasks or situations where a rapid response is required.

Simple Action Plan Flow Chart Template

How to write an action plan?

Creating an effective action plan is a foundational step towards turning aspirations into tangible results. It provides a clear roadmap, ensuring that each step taken aligns with the overall objective.

Whether you’re aiming to enhance a business process or achieve a personal goal, a well-drafted action plan can be your guiding light. Here’s key steps on how you can craft one:

  • Step 1: Establish SMART goals: Initiating with a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound ensures you have a clear and focused endpoint in sight. Smart goals serves as the cornerstone for your entire strategic blueprint.
  • Step 2: Determine necessary tasks: Decompose your overarching objective into smaller, actionable tasks. This modular approach not only makes the mission less daunting but also provides a sequential pathway to goal attainment.
  • Step 3: Assign essential resources: Depending on the tasks at hand, designate necessary resources, be they human, financial or technological. This ensures that every activity has the backing it needs for successful execution.
  • Step 4: Prioritize tasks by importance: Not all tasks hold equal weight. Determine the hierarchy of tasks based on their impact on the goal and their time sensitivity. This allows for a systematic progression.
  • Step 5: Outline timelines and key markers: With tasks in hand, set clear deadlines for each. Introduce milestones, which act as periodic check-ins, ensuring you’re on track and allowing for celebrations of smaller victories.
  • Step 6: Oversee and modify your strategy blueprint: As you progress, there will invariably be learnings and challenges. Regularly review your plan to make necessary adjustments, ensuring its relevance and effectiveness.
  • Step 7: Consider ready-to-use templates: If starting from scratch feels overwhelming, lean on structured templates to guide your planning. There’s plenty of business plan softwares and platforms such as  Venngage that offer a plethora of action plan templates , tailored to various needs, which can significantly streamline the process.

An action plan is more than just an action steps, it’s a strategic blueprint that bridges the gap between aspirations and realizations. 

Through this comprehensive guide, I’ve walked you through the purpose, ideal timings, core components, and practical examples of action plans across various domains. 

Leveraging tools of project management , you can track progress, assign tasks and ensure every team member stays on the same page. 

It’s not just about setting goals, but about strategically planning every step, ensuring tasks completed align with the larger project goals. 

Remember, success isn’t just about having goals but about charting the right course to achieve them

And if you’re looking to supercharge your planning efforts, don’t miss out on the Venngage business plan maker. 

Dive into their extensive collection of action plan templates and make your strategic planning both efficient and effective. 

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How to Write an Action Plan: Step-by-Step (Examples)

By Status.net Editorial Team on November 9, 2023 — 9 minutes to read

An action plan is a detailed roadmap of the necessary steps you need to take to achieve a specific goal or objective. It’s like a GPS that guides you from your starting point to your desired destination. Creating an action plan helps you break down a large goal into smaller, more manageable tasks, which makes the goal feel less overwhelming.

To start, you should first identify your end goal and be as specific as possible. For example, if you want to increase sales for your business, set a target like “Increase sales by 20% within the next six months.” This will give you a clear vision of what you want to achieve and make it easier to measure your progress.

Next, list the necessary actions or tasks required to reach your goal. These can be further divided into smaller tasks that are easy to understand and implement. For example, to increase sales, you could:

  • Improve your online presence by revamping your website, optimizing it for search engines, and posting regularly on social media platforms.
  • Reach out to potential clients through email campaigns and cold calls.
  • Offer promotions or discounts to incentivize new customers to try your product or service.

Now, it’s time to set a timeline for each task. Deadlines will enable you to monitor your progress and stay on track. Assign realistic due dates for each task, and if needed, break them down into smaller milestones.

To ensure your action plan’s success, make sure to assign responsibility for each task. If you’re working with a team, delegate tasks according to each team member’s strengths, skills, and workload. This will help ensure everyone knows what their responsibilities are, and they are held accountable.

Lastly, always monitor your progress and evaluate your action plan’s effectiveness. Regularly review the tasks you’ve accomplished, and make note of the tasks that were challenging or required more time than anticipated. This self-assessment will help you improve your action plan and make necessary adjustments as you work towards your goal.

Example Action Plan

Goal : Increase sales by 20% within the next 6 months (By January 1st, 2025)

Actions : 1. Improve online presence a) Revamp website design – Due October 15th b) Optimize website for SEO – Due November 1st c) Post regularly on social media (1x/week min) – Ongoing

2. Reach out to potential clients a) Create email marketing campaign – Due September 15th b) Start cold calling campaign (10 calls/day) – Start October 1st

3. Offer promotions a) Design promotion flyers – Due September 1st b) Run month-long 20% off sale – October 1-31st

Monitoring : – Check website analytics weekly – Track new clients monthly – Evaluate sales figures monthly – Adjust plan as needed at monthly meetings

Responsibilities : – John to revamp website – Susan to handle social media – Michael to create promotions – Jennifer to manage outreach campaigns

Steps to Creating a Powerhouse Action Plan

First, identify your goal . Be specific about what you want to achieve and set a time frame for accomplishing it. This will help keep your efforts focused and prevent you from getting overwhelmed by smaller tasks. For example, instead of “increase sales”, choose “increase sales by 20% in the next six months”.

Next, break your goal down into smaller, manageable tasks . Create a list of activities or steps that must be completed in order to reach your goal. If your goal is to Increase sales by 20%, some tasks might be:

  • Research your target market
  • Develop a marketing strategy
  • Improve product offerings
  • Train your sales team

Assign a deadline and responsible party for each task on your list. This will help ensure that all tasks are completed on time and that everyone knows their role in achieving the goal. Make sure to set realistic timelines for each task, taking into consideration the resources and time available.

Here’s an example:

  • Research your target market – due in one week – assigned to Jane (marketing specialist)
  • Develop a marketing strategy – due in two weeks – assigned to marketing team

Monitor your progress regularly. Keep track of your progress by using tools such as calendars, project management software, or a simple spreadsheet. Regularly assess whether you’re on track to meet your goal and adjust your action plan if needed. For example, if a task is taking longer than expected, you may need to reassign resources or revise the deadline.

Celebrate your milestones and learn from setbacks . Along the way, take the time to acknowledge and celebrate your successes, as well as learn from any setbacks or challenges. This will help maintain motivation and encourage continuous improvement.

Finally, communicate your action plan to all stakeholders involved, such as employees, investors, or clients. Clear communication ensures everyone understands the goal, their responsibilities, and the expectations for the project.

Defining Clear and Smart Goals

Specific goals.

When creating your action plan, start by setting specific goals. These are clear, well-defined goals that leave no room for ambiguity. You should know exactly what needs to be accomplished and how you plan to achieve it. For example, instead of aiming for “increasing sales,” set a goal like “increase sales by 15% over the next six months.”

Measurable Goals

Your goals should be measurable so that you can track your progress and know when you’ve achieved them. This involves identifying quantifiable indicators that will help you determine your progress. For instance, if your goal is to increase sales, a measurable component can be the number of units sold or the amount of revenue generated within a specific timeframe.

Achievable Goals

When setting goals, make sure they are achievable and realistic based on your current resources and constraints. Consider your team’s capabilities, time, and budget. Unattainable goals may negatively impact your motivation and morale. For example, if you have a small team with limited resources, setting a goal to double your company’s size within a month might be unrealistic. Instead, aim for a modest yet challenging growth rate that can be achieved with your available resources.

Relevant Goals

Your action plan goals should also be relevant to your organization’s mission and vision. These are goals that align with your overall strategic plan and contribute to its long-term success. Relevant goals ensure that your efforts are focused on high-impact areas and avoid unnecessary distractions. For example, if your business is focused on sustainability, a relevant goal might be to reduce your company’s carbon footprint by 20% in the next year.

Time-bound Goals

Finally, ensure that your goals are time-bound, meaning they have a deadline for completion. Deadlines keep your team accountable and help maintain a sense of urgency, which is crucial for staying on track and achieving your objectives. A clear timeframe also allows you to measure your progress and adjust your plans as needed. For instance, you could set a goal to expand your customer base by 10% within the next quarter.

Assigning Roles and Responsibilities

When creating an action plan, it’s important to assign roles and responsibilities to your team members. This helps ensure tasks are completed efficiently and everyone is clear about their duties. Here’s how to do it effectively:

  • First, identify the necessary tasks to achieve your goal. Be specific about what needs to be done and break it down into smaller steps if needed. For example, if your action plan involves promoting a new product, tasks could include designing promotional materials, creating social media posts, and reaching out to potential partners.
  • Next, evaluate the skills and expertise of your team members. Consider their strengths, weaknesses, and past experiences with similar projects. This will help you match team members with tasks that best suit their abilities. For instance, someone with graphic design expertise should be responsible for creating promotional materials.
  • Once you’ve determined which team members are best suited for each task, clearly communicate their roles and responsibilities. This can be done through a project management tool, an email, or a team meeting. Make sure everyone is aware of their duties and the deadlines for each task.
  • Keep track of everyone’s progress, and hold regular check-ins to see how each team member is doing with their assigned tasks.
  • Be open to adjusting your action plan and roles as necessary. Sometimes, unforeseen challenges can arise and require you to modify your plan.

Creating a Time Frame

When working on your action plan, it’s important to establish a realistic time frame for achieving your goals. This helps you stay on track and prioritize tasks effectively. We will walk you through the process of creating a time frame for your action plan.

  • First, break down your primary goal into smaller, manageable tasks. Think of these tasks as stepping stones that will lead you toward your overall objective. For example, if your goal is to start a new business, your tasks might include researching your target market, establishing a budget, and developing a marketing strategy.
  • Next, assign a deadline to each task. Deadlines should be specific and set in stone but make sure to be flexible enough to adjust as necessary. Use a calendar or planner to visualize your timeline, marking important dates and milestones. For example, you could set a four-month deadline for completing market research and a six-month deadline for securing initial funding.
  • To keep yourself accountable, set reminders or notifications for important deadlines. This can be done using digital tools like smartphone apps or traditional methods, such as sticky notes on your workspace. Regularly reviewing your progress and adjusting your time frame when needed will help you stay on track.
  • Lastly, consider any external factors that might impact your time frame. Are there seasonal events, holidays, or industry-specific deadlines that could affect your ability to complete tasks? Factor in these considerations as you build your timeline.

Resource Allocation

When creating an action plan, resource allocation plays a major role. You’ll need to determine the resources required for each task and how they’ll be distributed among team members. This usually includes time, budget, and human resources.

  • Start by estimating the time each task will take. Break tasks down into smaller chunks and allocate a specific deadline to each. This will help you prioritize tasks and balance workloads for your team members. For example, if designing a marketing campaign takes four weeks, divide it into weekly tasks like conducting market research, creating promotional materials, and setting up advertisements.
  • Next, determine the budget needed to complete your project. Identify any expenses such as salaries, equipment, software, and project-related costs like travel. Create a budget for each task to avoid overspending, and allocate funds accordingly. Using our marketing campaign example, allocate separate budgets for market research tools, graphic design tools, and advertising platforms.
  • Lastly, allocate human resources to tasks based on their skills and expertise. Delegate responsibilities to your team members, ensuring that everyone has a clear understanding of their role in the project. If needed, identify additional hires or outside consultants to fill gaps in your team’s expertise. For instance, if your team lacks graphic design experience, consider hiring a graphic designer or outsourcing the work to a design agency.
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  • Create an action plan that drives resul ...

Create an action plan that drives results

Alicia Raeburn contributor headshot

An action plan outlines precisely how you’re planning to accomplish your goals. It’s the perfect way to approach goals systematically and keep your team on target. In this article, we will cover how to create an action plan in six steps and how to implement it successfully. Plus, learn more about the differences between action plans, project plans, and to-do lists.

It can feel good to make goals. After all, you’re defining what you want to accomplish. But goals won’t do much without clear action steps. ​​An action plan is a popular project management technique that lists your action steps so you know exactly how you’re going to accomplish your goals. 

We’re going to show you how to create this clear roadmap step by step and other tools you should utilize to get the most out of your action plan. Let’s dive in.

What is an action plan?

An action plan is a list of tasks or steps you need to complete to achieve your goals. An effective action plan works like a management plan for your company’s initiatives, outlining the steps you need to take to make these larger goals a success. Once you go through the goal-setting process, create an action plan with specific tasks and timeframes to reach each goal. 

Who needs an action plan?

An action plan is useful for anyone who needs a step-by-step planning process. When you create an action plan, you detail exactly what actions you'll take to accomplish your project goals. These plans can help you organize your to-dos and ensure you have the necessary information and resources to accomplish your goals.

But you can create action plans for more than just strategic planning. Use this tool to reach any specific goals in a systematic way. Try setting up:

Business action plan

Marketing action plan

Corrective action plan

Sales action plan

Project action plan

Personal development action plan

Regardless of the type of action plan you create, make sure you create it in task management software . That way, you can easily share action items and timelines with your team to track progress. Instead of manual status updates and unclear deliverables, your team has one central source of truth for everything they need to do in order to hit their goals. 

Now let’s get into how you can create an action plan that increases your team’s efficiency and accountability.

Who needs an action plan?

6 steps to create an action plan

Step 1: set a smart goal.

When it comes to setting goals, clarity is the single most important quality. With the SMART goal method, your goal is clearly defined and attainable. Set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound goals to benefit from this tactic.

[Inline illustration] SMART goals (Infographic)

For example, your goal could be to deliver your current project (measurable) in four months (time-bound) without overspending (specific). Assuming this goal is both achievable and realistic based on your available resources, it’s a great SMART goal to set for yourself.

Step 2: Identify tasks

Now that your goal is clearly defined and written down, you’ll want to identify the steps you have to take to reach it. Identify all of the tasks that you and your team need to complete to reach milestones and, eventually, the main objective.

Here are a few action plan examples with tasks for different kinds of goals:

Goal: Expand team from seven to nine team members by June.

Meet with Human Resources to discuss the recruitment campaign.

Create a template project to track candidates.

Schedule three interviews per week.

Goal: Select and onboard new work management software to the entire company by the end of Q2.

Apply for the budget.

Create a roll-out plan for Q2.

Schedule training for team members.

Goal: Host 5k charity run in May to raise $15,000 for the local food bank.

Find volunteers and determine responsibilities

Prepare marketing materials and PR plans

Secure sponsors

Step 3: Allocate resources

Once you’ve outlined all of your tasks, you can allocate resources like team members, project budget, or necessary equipment. Whether it’s assigning team members to certain tasks, applying for a budget, or gathering helpful tools—now is the time to plan and prepare.

Sometimes, you can’t allocate all of your resources before you put your action plan in motion. Perhaps you have to apply for funding first or need executive approval before you can move on with a task. In that case, make the resource an action item in your plan so you can take care of it later.

Step 4: Prioritize tasks

When your team is clear on their priorities, they know what work to do first and what work they can reschedule if necessary. No action plan is set in stone, so the best way to empower your team is to let them know what tasks have a high priority and which ones are a bit more flexible.

To make this clear, sort all of your action items by priority and sequence:

Priority: Important and less important tasks.

Sequence: Order in which tasks have to be completed so others can start.

When you’re organizing and prioritizing your action items , you’ll notice that some action items are dependent on others. In other words, one task can’t begin until the previous task is completed. Highlight these dependencies and factor the sequence into your prioritization. This reduces bottlenecks , removing obstacles that would make a less important action item delay a high-priority item.  

Step 5: Set deadlines and milestones

When your team knows what they're working towards, they have the context to effectively prioritize work and the motivation to get great work done. Team members tend to be more motivated when they directly understand how their work is contributing to larger goals.

To engage your teammates from the get go, assign deadlines to all action items and define milestones . Milestones mark specific points along your project timeline that identify when activities have been completed or when a new phase starts

Create a timeline or Gantt chart to get a better overview of your prioritized tasks, milestones, and deadlines. Your timeline also serves as a visual way to track the start and end dates of every task in your action plan. You can use it as a baseline to make sure your team stays on track.

Step 6: Monitor and revise your action plan

Your ability to stay on top of and adapt to changes is what makes you a great project manager. It’s crucial that you monitor your team’s progress and revise the plan when necessary.

Luckily, your action plan isn’t set in stone. The best way to track potentially changing priorities or deadlines is to use a dynamic tool like a work management software . That way, you can update to-dos and dependencies in real time, keep your team on the same page, and your action plan moving.

Action plan vs. plan B vs. project plan vs. to-do list

So how exactly does an action plan differ from all these other plans and lists? To clear this up once and for all, we’re going to explain what these plans are and when to use which plan to maximize your team’s efforts.

Action plan vs. plan B

You may have heard the terms action plan and plan B used interchangeably. But in fact, an action plan and plan B are two completely different types of plans. Here’s how to tell them apart:

Your action plan outlines actions in much detail so you and your team know exactly what steps to take to reach your goal.

A plan B is a secondary action plan, an alternative strategy, that your team can apply if your original plan fails. Whether that’s because of an internal issue or an external factor—having a plan B is a great way to be prepared for the worst case scenario.

Action plan vs. plan B

Action plan vs. project plan

A project plan is a bit more complicated than an action plan. Project plans are blueprints of the key elements your team needs to accomplish to successfully achieve your project goals. A project plan includes seven elements:

Goals and project objectives

Success metrics

Stakeholders and roles

Scope and budget

Milestones and deliverables

Timeline and schedule

Communication plan

Once you’ve created a project plan, use an action plan to outline and document how your team will execute your tasks and hit your goals. This will ensure that everyone on your team knows what their responsibilities are and what to get done by when.

Action plan vs. to-do list

A to-do list is typically used to write down single tasks that don’t necessarily lead to one common goal. To-do lists can change daily and are much less organized than action plans. An action plan will follow specific steps and include tasks that all lead to the completion of a common goal.

How to implement your action plan successfully

You know how to create an action plan, but in order to implement it successfully, you need to use the right tools and use them correctly. Here are our top five tips to ensure your action plan is effective:

How to implement your action plan successfully

Use task management software

Streamline your action plan by keeping all of your tasks and timelines in one central source of truth. Task management software, like Asana , is perfect for your action plan because it allows you to keep track of pending tasks, declare task ownership, assign dependencies, and connect with your team in real time or asynchronously .

Use or create templates

Create or use a template that lists all the action items with notes, status, priority, and ownership. When you create a template that fits your project type, you can reuse it time and time again.

Set up real-time alerts and assign dependencies

Make sure all action items are time-bound and that you assign dependencies. That way, your team can react when an item is ready for them and easily track what other items depend on theirs. 

Check action items off as you complete them

When action items are completed, check them off! Make sure it’s visible to everyone and happens in real time so the person responsible for the next action item can start their work as soon as possible.

Discuss late or pending tasks

If you run into issues or delays, talk to your team to uncover potential bottlenecks and find solutions that keep the action plan on track. You can add notes directly into your action plan or set up calls to discuss more complex issues.

Ready, set, action plan

Like Benjamin Franklin once said: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Creating an action plan helps you stay focused, on track, and brings your goals to life.

Plan to succeed with a structured action plan and helpful tools like Asana’s task management software. Connect and align with your team in a central source of truth while staying flexible enough to revise your action plan when necessary.

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How to Create an Effective Action Plan (Examples & Templates)

How to Create an Effective Action Plan (Examples & Templates)

Written by: Raja Mandal

How to create an effective action plan header

Since you're here, you might be struggling to achieve your personal, professional or company goals. And if you think an action plan is just what you need to help you create a clear path for reaching your goals, you're absolutely right!

An effective action plan is critical, whether sending out weekly email newsletters, putting together a presentation, or executing a marketing plan or business plan . However, creating an action plan from scratch can be even more troublesome if you don’t know how to do it.

Fortunately, with Visme’s action plan templates , anyone can create an effective action plan in minutes.

Continue reading to discover what exactly an action plan is, why you need one, how to create one and some template examples that you can use it for inspiration.

Table of Contents

What is an action plan and why do you need one, why do you need an action plan, how to create an effective action plan.

10 Action Plan Templates To Help You Execute Projects

As the name suggests, an action plan is the set of tasks or activities you need to complete to achieve a goal or complete a project. You can think of it as a timeline, a list of actionable steps, people responsible for each of them and who follows the progress of each step to come up with the best results.

This single document can help you plan and monitor activities, identify the resources needed, and how and when they should be used to ultimately achieve your stated goal.

Now, you might be wondering the difference between an action plan and a to-do list. The most significant difference between these two is that to-do lists are ongoing and include tasks for different goals and projects. On the flip side, an action plan is focused on a specific goal within a limited time frame.

The purpose of creating an action plan:

  • Consumer Complaint Investigation
  • Project Management
  • Risk and Opportunity Management
  • Product Launch
  • Daily Meetings
  • Market Research

According to a recent study, those who finish their business plan are twice as likely to succeed in their business than those who have no business plan. So, plan to be prepared for the obstacles ahead and keep yourself on track.

And an effective action plan helps you boost your productivity and keep yourself focused. Here are some of the reasons why you need an action plan.

Get a Clear Direction

An action plan highlights the steps you should take and the timeframe to complete them. Therefore, you will get a clear direction of what to do in order to achieve your goals. So, whenever you stress yourself about the next steps or the actions taken in the past, you have everything in hand.

Keep Everyone On the Same Track

An effective action plan can bring every team member or stakeholder on the same page. It can be an individual who is an expert in the area of work, the one who is experiencing the problem and stands to benefit from the change, or who can contribute towards the goal or project.

Get a Better Clarification of the Timeframe

Every action in your action plan should have an exact completion date. Once you assign all the tasks that need to be done to achieve your goal and understand the requirements of resources for it, you can quickly figure out how long the overall action plan will take.

Measure Your Success

Measuring the success of the progress of your goal is another crucial benefit of using an action plan. For example, if an objective is to write an action plan, there may be many steps towards that goal, including understanding the design process, writing the text, branding and many others.

You can measure each of these steps to ensure you achieve the goals and contribute to the larger objective of creating an action plan.

Learning to create an action plan might seem daunting at first, but it’s worth the effort to keep yourself productive towards the goal later on. Though there is no universal formula to create an action plan, and they may differ in terms of tasks and timelines, you can follow the simple steps below to create one.

Define S.M.A.R.T. Goals

The most important ingredients you need to create an effective action plan are the goals you want to achieve. Since you are reading this, you might have already defined goals. But, if you haven’t, use the SMART method to create specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound goals.

Use the infographic below to understand a SMART goal and try to create yours accordingly.

Smart Goals Infographic

Once you have set SMART goals, you are already halfway through achieving them. If you struggle with creating SMART goals, use the worksheet template below.

Smart Goals Worksheet

Additionally, read the article on how to create SMART goals to learn more about it.

Prepare the List of Actions

Now, prepare a list of actions you need to take to reach your goal. It would be better to divide your main goal into smaller actionable steps to make the final goal less overwhelming and get closer to achieving your goal one step at a time.

However, make sure that the actions are realistic and relevant to your goal. For example, if you want to generate 30% more leads, some of your actions could be creating engaging content, optimizing your web pages, asking for referrals, and many others.

Identify and Allocate Resources

Before creating the action plan, you must identify all the resources required to complete the tasks. Some of the resources you need will include money, equipment, personnel, tools and others. And if you don’t have the resources available at the moment, you need to make a plan to acquire them.

Once you have your resources, allocate them to the right people. For example, suppose you are running a digital marketing campaign. In that case, you will need to have the applications and tools for content production, graphic design, and marketing analytics and hand them over to your content manager, social media manager and SEO manager.

Set the Deadline

As we have already discussed, the goals should be SMART. And here, T stands for time-bound, which means that you should have a start and finish date to achieve your goal. If you don’t do it, you are likely to never reach the goal.

Therefore, choose a specific deadline so the other team members involved can plan better for the execution of the action plan.

Additionally, you can break one large goal into smaller subgoals and set an individual deadline for each of them. For example, if you want to generate 30% more leads by the end of Q4 this year, you can set subgoals such as:

  • Upload first YouTube video by X date.
  • Publish 250 blog posts by X date.
  • Host 25 webinars by X date.

Create a Visual Representation

Now, let’s move to the part where you will actually materialize your action plan. Creating a visual representation of the action plan is the best way to engage your team so that everyone knows the plan well.

But designing an action plan from scratch is not an easy task. Visme is there to help you design the action plan without stressing yourself out for the design part. Follow the steps below to visualize your action plan.

Pick a Template

Visme offers a wide range of professionally designed action plan templates for various business types and use cases. Choose a template from the library that suits your needs or that you can easily customize a little to create your very own action plan.

Input Your Text and Data

Now, edit the empty fields to fill in your objectives, tasks, deadline, budget, and many others. Click on one of the text boxes and start typing to insert your text or replace any pre-existing text with your own.

Change the Colors and Fonts

Customize the appearance of your action plan further by changing the colors and fonts. Select the element you want to change color for and use the color picker tool to change the color according to your need.

Once you are done with the colors, you can now change the font style, color and size. Double click on the text that you want to change the font for and use the editor on top to do it.

Use your brand colors and brand fonts in the action plan to perfectly represent your brand. Visme lets you save your brand assets so that you get customized templates according to your brand guidelines at your fingertips.

Watch the video below to learn more about setting up your brand identity kit in Visme.

how to write action plan for business

Incorporate Icons and Illustrations

Icons and illustrations are the essential part of visually expressing actions and ideas. Add relevant icons and illustrations or swap out the ones included to ensure they match your action plan. Visme offers thousands of professionally crafted icons and illustrations that you can use in your design.

Additionally, take your design to the next level effortlessly by incorporating 3D animated assets in your action plan.

Collaborate with Your Team

To make the most of your action plan, ensure that you include all the team members that you think can contribute to the success of your plan. Start collaborating with your team and effectively create stunning designs right inside Visme.

Check out the video tutorial below to learn more about it.

how to write action plan for business

Share Your Action Plan

Once you are satisfied with your action plan, you can share it with your team members. Download the action plan as a high-resolution JPG or PNG image file or share it via a link. If you want to publish your action plan on a website to blog, generate an embedded link and paste it wherever you want.

Monitor the Progress

Track your progress regularly and ensure that each step in your action plan is completed on time. You can use an internal reporting system or hold regular meetings to track progress. Mark tasks that are completed as done on the action plan to bring them to the attention of your team members.

This will help you better understand the pending or delayed tasks for which you need to find solutions. Finally, keep updating the action plan regularly according to your progress. With Dynamic Fields , it's easy to keep your action plan, and all other projects, updated. Once you input data into a dynamic field, it will change across all projects it’s used in.

If you are considering the action plan for a project, you can also opt for project management plan templates to keep track of your project progress and ensure a smooth operation.

Additionally, Visme offers a wide variety of other documents such as status reports , marketing plans , sales plans , project plans , organizational charts and many more.

10 Action Plan Templates to Help You Execute Projects

1. marketing action plan.

Planning marketing and promotional activities are critical aspects of your business process as they help you achieve your business goals and grow your business. If you are a marketer, you should plan activities each month and compare them with your expected results.

This action plan template can help you track the actual results of those activities and help you with your future plans. Whether your marketing objective is increasing sales or brand awareness , you can use this template as a part of your overall marketing plan .

Marketing Action Plan

2. 90-Day Action Plan

The position of C.E.O. comes with high expectations. With the unknowns of a new role in a new organization, the pressure to perform and the need to be accepted as a new leader by the team, it can be challenging to know where to start.

Use this 90-day action plan to understand your new organization, its target market, functional interdependencies, growth opportunities, and much more.

90 Day Action Plan

3. Employee Corrective Action Plan

As a business owner, you need to take corrective actions when the goals and objectives are not in line with your expectations and the process starts experiencing flaws. An employee corrective action plan is one of the crucial ones of them.

This often happens when the employee lacks key skills or doesn’t understand your organizational processes or objectives. An employee corrective action plan template like the one below allows you to record the disciplinary action that needs to be taken and suggest improvements and comments.

Employee Corrective Action Plan

4. Project Action Plan

When starting or running a new project like website designing or anything else, you need to juggle many things at once. Use this website design project action plan to ensure that the project goes more smoothly.

It gives you complete visibility of the objectives, tasks and the given timeframe, making it easier for you to organize teams, assign tasks, track performance and measure the execution of the project.

Additionally, learn more about how Visme can help you better manage projects .

Project Action Plan

5. S.M.A.R.T Action Plan

You might already know that SMART goals push you further, giv1425287609es you a sense of direction and help you organize and reach your goals. Imagine what will happen if you combine your SMART goals with the action plan. Every action you take will be completely aligned with the specific goal.

This action plan template helps you do just that. Edit this template and add your SMART goal and the action steps altogether.

Smart Action Plan

6. Emergency Action Plan

As a business owner, you must always be prepared for emergencies while running the business. These emergencies include hazardous materials spills, fires, natural disasters, and many others. The most effective way of handling a crisis situation is to prepare in advance by creating an emergency action plan.

The emergency action plan template helps you prepare the evacuation plan for your workplace in the event of a natural disaster. Edit this template or use it as is to do as much as possible to keep your employees safe in case of disaster.

Emergency Action Plan

7. Disciplinary Action Plan

The goal of a disciplinary action plan is to warn employees about what is and is not acceptable behavior in the workplace. This is mainly provided to employees during the onboarding process, but you can also use it for existing employees.

Edit this template by filling out the empty spaces with the necessary information and hand it over to the employee you want to warn of unacceptable behavior.

Disciplinary Action Plan

8. 30-60-90 Day Action Plan

The 30 60 90 day action plan is a structured way of enlisting goals and strategies in 3 steps timeline. Project managers, new hires, sales executives, and many other professionals can use this template to plan the company’s objectives and ensure that the goals are met.

This action plan template includes a 90-day action plan for a tech project split into three parts. The first 30 days show the initial steps, such as discussing project breakdown and planning with clients. Similarly, the next 60 and 90 days include other crucial actions such as quality assurance, bug fixes, feature rollout, final launch, KPI tracking, updates and many more.

30 60 90 Day Action Plan

9. 30-Day Action Plan

Like the 30-60-90 day action plan, the 30-day action plan is a set of steps that you need to take within 30 days to achieve the specific goal. If the project is going to take not more than 30 days or if you want to finish the project in 30 days, this action plan template is perfect for you.

This action plan template also lets you break down the project into three smaller parts to make the actions more realistic and effective. Edit this template to create the perfect 30-day action plan for any type of project you want.

30 Day Action Plan Template

10. Sales Action Plan

Create a colorful sales action plan using this template. It will help you explain how you will operate and manage the sales process to skyrocket your sales. Set goals to manage your inventory, project sales, expenses, timeline and many others.

Furthermore, the template allows you to set different plans for online and in-store sales, making the template a must-have for your overall sales plan.

Learn more about how Visme can help you close more sales and take your business to the next level.

Sales Action Plan

Create Your Action Plan Using Visme

Are you ready to create an effective action plan and track your progress while executing and running projects? Choose your favorite action plan template from the list above and start editing it using Visme’s professional document creator .

Almost every part of these templates is editable and the easy-to-use drag and drop tool helps you create action plans in a few clicks.

Sign-up for a free account in Visme today and your action plans are just a few clicks away.

Design an effective action plan quickly and easily using Visme.

how to write action plan for business

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About the Author

Raja Antony Mandal is a Content Writer at Visme. He can quickly adapt to different writing styles, possess strong research skills, and know SEO fundamentals. Raja wants to share valuable information with his audience by telling captivating stories in his articles. He wants to travel and party a lot on the weekends, but his guitar, drum set, and volleyball court don’t let him.

how to write action plan for business

What is an Action Plan? Learn with Templates and Examples


Planning on turning your vision into reality? And what’s your best way to avoid challenges and problems during this journey? A solid action plan.

We have outlined 6 steps explaining how to write an action plan. Once you familiarize yourself with them, go ahead and use the editable templates below to start planning right away.

What is an Action Plan?

Why you need an action plan, how to write an action plan, action plan templates.

An action plan is a specific list of tasks in order to achieve a particular goal. It can be regarded as a proposed strategy to execute a specific project to achieve a specific or general goal effectively and efficiently. It outlines steps to take and helps stay focused and organized, whether it’s personal or work-related. Breaking down the goal into smaller, manageable steps, makes it easier to stay motivated and track progress.

It’s an essential part of the strategic planning process and helps with improving teamwork planning Not only in project management, but action plans can be used by individuals to prepare a strategy to achieve their own personal goals as well.

Components of an action plan include

  • A well-defined description of the goal to be achieved
  • Tasks/ steps that need to be carried out to reach the goal
  • People who will be in charge of carrying out each task
  • When will these tasks be completed (deadlines and milestones)
  • Resources needed to complete the tasks
  • Measures to evaluate progress

What’s great about having everything listed down on one location is that it makes it easier to track progress and effectively plan things out.

An action plan is not something set in stone. As your organization grows, and surrounding circumstances change, you will have to revisit and make adjustments to meet the latest needs.

Sometimes businesses don’t spend much time on developing an action plan before an initiative, which, in most cases, leads to failure. If you haven’t heard, “failing to plan is planning to fail” said Benjamin Franklin supposedly once.

Planning helps you prepare for the obstacles ahead and keep you on track. And with an effective action plan, you can boost your productivity and keep yourself focused.  

Here are some benefits of an action plan you should know;

  • It gives you a clear direction. As an action plan highlights exactly what steps to be taken and when they should be completed, you will know exactly what you need to do.
  • Having your goals written down and planned out in steps will give you a reason to stay motivated and committed throughout the project.  
  • With an action plan, you can track your progress toward your goal.
  • Since you are listing down all the steps you need to complete in your action plan, it will help you prioritize your tasks based on effort and impact.

From the looks of it, creating an action plan seems fairly easy. But there are several important steps you need to follow with caution in order to get the best out of it. Here’s how to write an action plan explained in 6 easy steps.

Step 1: Define your end goal

If you are not clear about what you want to do and what you want to achieve, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Planning a new initiative? Start by defining where you are and where you want to be.

Solving a problem? Analyze the situation and explore possible solutions before prioritizing them.

Then write down your goal. And before you move on to the next step, run your goal through the SMART criteria . Or in other words, make sure that it is

  • Specific – well-defined and clear
  • Measurable – include measurable indicators to track progress  
  • Attainable – realistic and achievable within the resources, time, money, experience, etc. you have
  • Relevant – align with your other goals
  • Timely – has a finishing date

Use this SMART goal worksheet to simplify this process. Share it with others to get their input as well.  

  • Ready to use
  • Fully customizable template
  • Get Started in seconds

exit full-screen

And refer to our easy guide to the goal-setting process to learn more about setting and planning your goals.

Step 2: List down the steps to be followed

The goal is clear. What exactly should you do to realize it?

Create a rough template to list down all the tasks to be performed, due dates and people responsible.

It’s important that you make sure that the entire team is involved in this process and has access to the document. This way everyone will be aware of their roles and responsibilities in the project.

Make sure that each task is clearly defined and is attainable. If you come across larger and more complex tasks, break them down to smaller ones that are easier to execute and manage.

Tips: Use a RACI Matrix template to clarify project roles and responsibilities, and plan projects

Step 3: Prioritize tasks and add deadlines

It’s time to reorganize the list by prioritizing the tasks . Some steps, you may need to prioritize as they can be blocking other sub-steps.

Add deadlines, and make sure that they are realistic. Consult with the person responsible for carrying it out to understand his or her capacity before deciding on deadlines.

Step 4: Set milestones

Milestones can be considered mini goals leading up to the main goal at the end. The advantage of adding milestones is that they give the team members to look forward to something and help them stay motivated even though the final due date is far away.

Start from the end goal and work your way back as you set milestones . Remember not to keep too little or too much time in between the milestone you set. It’s a best practice to space milestones two weeks apart.  

Step 5: Identify the resources needed

Before you start your project, it’s crucial to ensure that you have all the necessary resources at hand to complete the tasks. And if they are not currently available, you need to first make a plan to acquire them.

This should also include your budget. You can assign a column of your action plan to mark the cost of each task if there are any.  

Step 6: Visualize your action plan

The point of this step is to create something that everyone can understand at a glance and that can be shared with everyone.

Whether your action plan comes in the shape of a flowchart , Gantt chart , or table , make sure that it clearly communicates the elements we have identified so far – tasks, task owners, deadlines, resources, etc.

This document should be easily accessible to everyone and should be editable.

Step 7: Monitor, evaluate and update

Allocate some time to evaluate the progress you’ve made with your team.

You can mark tasks that are completed as done on this final action plan, bringing attention to how you’ve progressed toward the goal.

This will also bring out the tasks that are pending or delayed, in which case you need to figure out why and find suitable solutions. And then update the action plan accordingly.

Business action plan

You may like to read: The Easy Guide to Making a Business Plan for Presentations

Marketing action plan

Strategic action plan, corrective action plan template.

Learn more about: Corrective Action Plan template .

Additional resources: The Easy Guide to Creating a Business Contingency Plan

Simple action plan template

Any more tips on creating an action plan.

An action plan is designed to guide your way to accomplishing your goals. It turns your vision into actionable goals and steps. And it helps you stay focused and motivated.

From an individual employee in an organization to larger departments can make use of action plans to steer their way towards completing their goals.

Maybe you are about to create your very first action plan, or you are already a pro at writing them. Either way, we’d like to hear your opinions on how to write an action plan. Do share them with us in the comments section below.

Join over thousands of organizations that use Creately to brainstorm, plan, analyze, and execute their projects successfully.

FAQs About Action Plan

Lack of clarity on goals: Make sure the team understands the goals and objectives of the action plan. The goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Unclear responsibilities: Assign clear roles and responsibilities for each team member to avoid confusion and ensure accountability.

Overcomplicating the plan: Keep the action plan simple and easy to understand. Avoid adding unnecessary complexity or detail that may confuse the team.

Failure to prioritize tasks: Prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency. This will ensure that the team focuses on the most critical tasks first.

Inadequate resources: Ensure that the team has access to the necessary resources such as time, budget, and equipment, to carry out the action plan successfully.

Lack of communication: Effective communication is crucial to the success of any action plan. Ensure that team members are regularly updated on progress and any changes to the plan.

Failure to monitor progress: Regularly monitor progress and adjust the action plan as needed to ensure that it stays on track and achieves its goals.

Strategic action plan: This type of plan outlines the long-term goals and objectives of an organization, and the actions that will be taken to achieve them. It typically covers a period of several years and includes high-level strategies and initiatives.

Operational action plan: This plan focuses on the day-to-day operations of an organization, outlining the actions that will be taken to achieve short-term goals and objectives. It typically covers a period of one year or less and includes specific actions and timelines.

Project action plan: This type of plan is used for individual projects and outlines the actions that will be taken to achieve specific project goals and objectives. It includes a detailed breakdown of tasks, timelines, and responsibilities.

Sales action plan: This plan focuses on the actions that will be taken to increase sales and revenue. It includes specific strategies for marketing, sales, and customer service.

Marketing action plan: This plan outlines the actions that will be taken to promote a product or service and increase brand awareness. It includes strategies for advertising, social media, public relations, and other marketing initiatives.

Crisis management action plan: This type of plan outlines the actions that will be taken in the event of a crisis, such as a natural disaster or security breach. It includes specific protocols for communication, evacuation, and other emergency procedures.

An action plan can be used by anyone who wants to achieve specific goals or objectives. It is a useful tool for individuals, teams, and organizations in a variety of contexts. Here are some examples:

Individuals: An individual can use an action plan to achieve personal goals such as losing weight, completing a degree, or starting a business.

Teams: A team can use an action plan to achieve goals related to a specific project or initiative. For example, a marketing team may use an action plan to launch a new product.

Small businesses: Small businesses can use an action plan to achieve goals related to sales, marketing, operations, or finance.

Non-profit organizations: Non-profit organizations can use an action plan to achieve goals related to fundraising, volunteer recruitment, or program implementation.

Government agencies: Government agencies can use an action plan to achieve goals related to policy implementation, disaster response, or public safety.

Educational institutions: Educational institutions can use an action plan to achieve goals related to improving student outcomes, increasing enrollment, or expanding programs.

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Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

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How to create an action plan (with free templates and examples)

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An action plan template provides a ready-made framework for quickly adding the steps — like tasks, due dates, and assignees — to achieve your project goals. It’s a great way to ensure your project action plans are effective and consistent so everyone understands what’s expected.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to write an action plan step-by-step, with examples for inspiration. Plus, you can download two free action plan templates — including one from our Work OS — to get started immediately.

What is an action plan?

An action plan is a detailed blueprint that outlines the steps you, your team, or your organization will take to achieve a specific goal. It includes specific tasks or actions with due dates and assignees, a timeline, and the resources required to accomplish your goal.

Action plans include detailed information, such as:

  • A description of each action or task to complete
  • The person responsible for each action
  • Due dates for each task
  • Resources required to complete the action
  • Space to reflect or take notes after you have completed a task

What is an action plan template?

An action plan template is a pre-structured document that gives you a framework for crafting your new action plan. A practical action plan template has designated spaces for each aspect you need to cover, often presented in a table format like this.

Screenshot of monday.com's action plan template

Free action plan templates

Here are two free action plan templates you can download and use today:

Try monday.com’s Action Plan Template:

This action plan template breaks down goals into actionable steps that you can prioritize, assign ownership, and track progress. You can also add start and end dates for each action, plus relevant details and files.

Why is an action plan template important?

Leaders and managers use action plan templates to speed up the strategic planning process . Rather than spending unnecessary time designing the document used for planning purposes, project managers can simply pull up their template, save a new copy — keeping the existing template intact — and get straight to work scheduling and assigning tasks.

Action plan templates ensure consistency

Additionally, templates help to ensure consistency across plans and teams. When your organization uses the same action plan template for the whole company, it’s easier for team members to interpret and understand the plan — because they’re familiar with the format — and it contributes toward an organized, professional appearance.

Action plan templates help you plan more effectively

Action plan templates help project organizers plan more effectively by offering predefined categories and columns, reducing the chance of human error or omitting information from an action plan. In addition, you can apply any learnings from the project management process to your template. That way, you’ll consistently improve subsequent action plans.

While completing a project, you might find that some of the tasks in your task lists didn’t have clear outcomes. In addition, it wasn’t immediately obvious how to identify when the task was complete. So, you could borrow from the SMART goals framework — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound goals — and include a new column in your action plan template to note how you’ll measure if the task is complete.

And when using an action plan template built on a Work OS like monday.com, you can add your action plan to relevant project boards, create cross-team automations , and more — making it easier to collaborate with a distributed team in real time.

What are the essential features of an effective action plan template?

Action plan templates should contain the following features:

  • Multiple views — such as tables, timelines, Kanban boards, and Gantt charts to visualize tasks.
  • Task notifications — to detail and assign tasks to team members.
  • Structured layouts — to plan tasks based on priority, status, and resource allocation.
  • Collaboration ability — to maintain notes, comments, and files in one place.
  • Automations — to update task status and notify owners.
  • Status columns — to show the current status, such as Stuck, Working on it, and Done.
  • Dashboards — to track overall progress, timelines, and budgets.

What is the difference between an action plan and a project plan?

A project plan is more detailed than an action plan. Both list the tasks, timelines, and resources required to achieve a desired goal. But project plans also include:

  • Project goals and objectives
  • Project milestones and deliverables
  • Project scope and budget
  • Project roles and responsibilities
  • Project stakeholders and communication schedule
  • Project risk mitigation and contingency plans
  • Project success criteria

You can create an action plan from your project plan to outline the steps required to achieve your project goals.

What are the key elements of a well-written action plan?

A well-written action plan consists of seven components:

  • Goals: define what the action plan aims to accomplish.
  • Steps: detail the actions required to achieve each goal.
  • Items: determine the task dependencies and priorities.
  • Timeline: maps out the schedule and milestones from start to finish.
  • Resources: identify the people, tools, and budget required.
  • Responsibilities: assign tasks to an individual or a team.
  • Review: monitor the overall progress of action items completed.

What are some examples of action plan templates?

Now that we know what they do, let’s look at a few action plan templates.

Business action plan template

This template outlines how to write an action plan to track progress toward a specific business goal.

Example of a business action plan template

( Image Source )

This action plan begins by detailing the primary goal, with the first column dedicated to a breakdown of each action required. For example, if your business goal was to design and launch a new website, your activities might include:

  • Gathering design assets
  • Choosing a color scheme
  • Copywriting for new website pages
  • Assembling design and development teams
  • Creating design wireframes
  • Design and development
  • Launch and promotion

Note that the second to last column in this action plan template is reserved for noting potential hazards. This helps identify roadblocks that might get in the way of achieving your goals to plan around them.

Personal development action plan template

Though action plans are most often used in a business context, they can be a handy task management tool to help you stay motivated and work toward your personal goals.

Example of a personal development action plan

This template allows you to break down your actions into a step-by-step sequence and includes a “How will I know I’ve been successful?” column to ensure that the actions you write down have a clear outcome.

Corrective action plan template

Creating an action plan can also be a great way to solve a specific business problem or even an issue with a particular employee’s performance. This is known as a corrective action plan, as shown in the example template below.

A corrective action plan template includes important columns, such as “metrics and constraints” — to help users complete tasks and plan for potential roadblocks — and “percent completed” — to help measure the progress toward the goal.

monday.com’s Action Plan Template

As you’ve seen in the examples above, the typical action plan format is a PDF or Microsoft Word document. While this is fine for goal setting and creating the plan itself, it’s not so great for putting it into action.

That’s why we’ve purpose-built a flexible, customizable, intuitive action plan template to use with monday.com.

When you design your action plan on monday.com, you can:

  • Access multiple views (such as a table, Kanban, and timeline) to work in a manner that suits your needs.

Timeline view in the action plan template

  • Assign tasks to individuals and notify them instantly.
  • Comment and collaborate on tasks to keep communication contextual.
  • Design custom automations to save valuable time and ensure nothing slips through the cracks.
  • Report on progress with the Progress Tracking Column.

Screenshot of the progress tracking column on monday.com

Once there is buy-in from the team on the plan, it is easy to copy actions, dates, and assignees over to the task management board.

Because monday.com is a comprehensive Work OS, any action plans you create with this template also integrate with relevant project boards. In addition, comprehensive analytics make tracking easy.

Get the template

How to write an action plan step-by-step

Never created an action plan before? Then, follow this simple guide and get started with the free template above.

1. Determine your goals

First, you need to understand what you’re trying to achieve. Then, make this goal as specific as possible.

For example, “increase sales” is not a clear enough goal. “Increase sales by 20% in quarter three” is more specific and allows you to set a metric for achieving it.

2. Break down the steps required to achieve each goal

What actions are necessary to get there?

In this example, that might include:

  • Hire three new sales development representatives
  • Increase content marketing budget by $20,000
  • Implement a new sales training program for new hires

3. Determine task dependencies and priorities

Remember: you can’t do everything at once! So now that you’ve broken down that big goal into bite-sized chunks, you need to figure out the perfect order for completing the tasks. In the above instance, you need to hire new sales representatives before starting a sales training program.

4. Set milestones

Now, set some milestones for significant events or checkpoints along the project. Some typical milestones are:

  • Completion of a substantial task or phase of the project
  • A significant event, such as a product launch
  • Important meetings, like customer review meetings

5. Add deadlines

When do you need to complete each task? Setting deadlines for each task helps your team stay on track and allows you to identify if your timeline for the larger goal is realistic.

6. Identify the resources you need

What’s getting in the way of completing these tasks? What do you require — perhaps from leadership or another team — to meet or exceed your goals? In our sales team example, we might need some assistance from the HR department to advertise an open role and attract new applicants.

7. Assign tasks to individuals

Who is responsible for each action? Assign a clear task owner to each task. Ownership doesn’t just make someone feel accountable; it empowers them to take the initiative and solve problems without dragging in management at every twist and turn.

8. Agree on a plan to review progress

Before you jump in and start your project, determine how you will measure progress toward your goals. For example:

  • Will you review your action plan every day or every week?
  • Will the task assignees or the project leader be responsible for updating the plan to reflect progress?

Determining these answers upfront means the action plan remains a living document reflecting actual progress.

Customize our Action Plan Template to your needs today

Prepare and present your action plans with our flexible, customizable Action Plan Template. Team members will love the multiple views, automations, and collaboration features to keep them on point. And you’ll benefit from the Progress Tracking column in your weekly reports to stakeholders.

FAQs about action plans

What’s the difference between an action plan and a to-do list.

An action plan and a to-do list are helpful tools for organizing tasks and achieving goals. A to-do list is a list of tasks to complete, but not necessarily for the same goal or project. Typically, to-do lists are less organized than action plans and can change daily. In contrast, an action plan follows specific steps and includes tasks that all lead to completing a common goal.

What's the difference between an action plan and a strategic plan?

An action plan and a strategic plan are essential for an organization’s long-term and short-term planning. A strategic plan outlines an organization’s vision for the future and helps prioritize goals, make resourcing decisions, and unite employees. On the other hand, an action plan makes the strategic plan operational by providing detailed instructions on how to accomplish those goals.

What’s the difference between an action plan and an implementation plan?

An implementation plan and an action plan are essential documents that help teams execute a project successfully. An action plan focuses on the specific tasks needed to achieve a goal. In contrast, an implementation plan is a more holistic document outlining the steps, teams, and resources required to execute a project successfully.

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How to Write an Action Plan (Examples Included)

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Before you start any project, you have to draw up a plan to manage, organize, and realize the project’s goals. Planning is a crucial component of the project initiation phase of the project management life cycle.

The best way to turn your project objectives and goals into reality, and to avoid risks and challenges during the project management life cycle , is to use a solid action plan. You can use an action plan to create a clear path to success for any goal (personal, business, or financial goal ).

In this article, you will learn how to write an effective action plan and why you need one for your project.

Let’s get started.

What is an Action Plan?

An action plan is a comprehensive plan on how to reach a goal. This is a step-by-step process you have to perform to attain your goal.

Every organization has a guideline or strategy in place to achieve its goal, be it small or big. An action plan can work towards a quarterly or yearly goal. This will include setting goals and objectives that are realistic to achieve.

A goal is the primary objective of an action plan. An action plan does not only exist in organizations, but it is very useful in our day-to-day life.

When you set a goal, an action plan has to be in motion to bring such a goal to life. Some processes or structures have to be in place to create an action plan.

Ask the following questions before you write an action plan.

  • What are the goals you need to achieve?
  • What methods will go into achieving them?
  • What is the end goal of these goals and objectives?

You also need to follow processes to set an effective action plan.

1. Setting A Goal

The first step for writing an action plan is to set a goal. When you discover the goal of the whole operation, you can then draw up an action plan to achieve it. The purpose of this is to create or have a picture of what the goal is going to be about. This ensures that you set a realistic goal.

During the process of setting a goal, consider the following.

  • The goal must be clear and actionable
  • Must be realistic
  • Must have a completion date

Organizations at this phase create a project charter to sketch out the goals and objectives.

Project Charter Template - Excel-PMT

2. Structures to Achieve the Goal

These are the guidelines or step-by-step plans to achieve the goal. During this stage, you write a well-described and outlined plan. The action plan is a guideline for achieving the already set goal.

Break down the goal of the project into smaller units and tasks that will lead to the eventual progress of the goal. Set targets and deadlines, and share responsibilities and resources needed to achieve the goal.

Some of these structures to achieve the goal include:

  • Listing the steps to be followed
  • Establishing key goals and targets
  • Identifying available resources
  • Visualizing the goal

Why You Need an Action Plan

An action plan is a framework for how to complete a project effectively. One of the reasons why projects fail is due to a lack of planning. Many projects fail because they either did not carry out extensive research or they did not have a solid plan to bring all their goals to fruition.

Every goal must have a to-do list of all tasks that need to be accomplished to achieve an objective. An action plan guarantees a well-organized objective. You need this plan to stay on track and manage the progress of the project or goal.

1. Provides Motivation and Eliminates Procrastination

An action plan is simply a to-do list that one checks till a task or goal is accomplished. A well outlined and organized arrangement of your plan encourages one to start and complete the task. Breaking the task into smaller units makes it feel less overwhelming and cumbersome.

Ticking your to-do list makes the progress of the goal visible. You can easily track milestones and accomplishments of the set objective.

2. Sets Direction and Priorities

One of the benefits of writing an action plan is that it establishes direction and priorities for your goal. It defines the whole purpose of the operation. In an organizational setting, it can be likened to a project charter. This represents a sketch of what the end goal should look like or should be.

An action plan helps the project team to stay on track and focus on the purpose of the project without going outside of the main objective. This prevents the waste of time and resources on scope creep . If eventually, you have to make changes, there will be adjustments that will easily fit into the project.

3. Uncovers Weaknesses and Opportunities

In the course of drawing up an action plan, one uncovers both the strengths and weaknesses of the project. An action plan provides you with a better chance of adjusting and creating a better plan for your goal or project.

The weaknesses uncovered could be the risk involved in the project. The action plan helps you discover the weaknesses and how to quickly eliminate them before the project begins.

During the process of writing an action plan, one can also find opportunities that can be generated from it. An action plan will force you to think strategically to deliver insights that will improve your project.

How to Write an Action Plan

There are seven steps to follow that serve as a guideline for writing a strategically well-detailed action plan.

1. Define Your Goals

The first step to writing a good action plan is to define the goal, be it a personal or business plan . Break down the overall goal into smaller, easier, and understandable sub-goals.

The reason for this is that, when people start to accomplish a task, the first impression they will develop is that it will take lots of time and energy. Breaking down the goal into smaller units will make it easier to understand and accomplish

By defining the goal, you understand what it takes to achieve it. It is at this stage you decide if you can go through with the plan. The goal you define should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely.

SMART - specific - measurable - attainable - relevant - time-based by indeed

2. List the Key Objectives

Listing priorities is another important step when writing an effective action plan. What are these priorities? They are the key elements that form the goal of what you want to achieve.

By listing the key objectives , you know where to focus on majorly or areas that will require more attention.

3. Create a Step-by-Step Guideline to Achieve Your Goal

A guideline ensures you do not get stuck during the process of achieving your aim. Many businesses have failed due to getting to a particular segment of achieving their goal and not knowing what to do next. Creating a step-by-step guideline ensures there is the next thing to do.

4. Set Targets and Deadlines

Time is a very important factor when setting a goal. During the process of trying to achieve the aim of the project, you can easily lose track of time if you do not track it.

When a goal drags on for a particular period, it can lead to loss of interest or the goal might fail to accomplish what it was intended for.

5. Identify Available Resources

An action plan should have an estimate of the resources available. When talking about resources, this is not just in terms of financial resources but also human resources. This refers to the number of teams on the ground to achieve the goal.

The essence of identifying available resources is to manage them effectively to achieve a specific goal.

6. Set Milestones

In every sector of life, the show of success no matter how little serves as a morale booster. Setting milestones helps you keep track of the project’s progress.

When working on a project, after completing a milestone, no matter how little the step is, it is important to celebrate or mark that milestone.

Milestones show progress. The essence of setting milestones is to give morale and motivation to your team members to do more work. A good practice is to reward team members when they accomplish a set milestone to show appreciation for their effort and encourage them to accomplish more.

7. Monitor and Evaluate the Plan

Monitoring and evaluating the plan is the last section of an action plan. This is where you evaluate the whole plan, check for the loopholes, and whatever was missed when writing the plan. It also leaves room for adjustments and scope creep.

Tips for Writing an Effective Action Plan

1. involve team members and experts.

This goes with the saying that “no man is an island.” No matter how much you understand a project, you need to involve team members and experts for better opinions and inputs. Following this tip allows for growth and communication among the team.

When opinions are welcomed from the team, this helps develop the project and might even uncover a greater benefit to the project. There are certain aspects of the project you may miss which your team members can pick up.

2. Have a Timeline

Getting your timing right is key to the success of any project. Having a timeline guiding all the activities you want to carry out in the project is crucial. A well-established timeline for your project ensures that you accomplish all tasks and milestones at the appropriate time.

3. Communicate the Plan

Communication is the foundation upon which a project can develop. When communication is in place, there will be a smooth transfer of information from one section to another. This is key because, without communication, the goal will remain stagnant.

4. Tick Off Items As You Accomplish Them

After completing an item or task in your project, mark them as completed. Doing this will make it easy for you to know the items or tasks you have completed and the ones that are still pending.

Ticking off items as you accomplish them can boost the morale of the team and encourage them to put in more effort to achieve the project.

5. Write an Action Plan Template

Writing an action plan template helps you save time and energy. Instead of having to create an action plan from scratch each time you need one, you can write or collect action plan templates you can edit to fit your needs.

Since the format for writing an action plan is similar for many projects or goals, writing an action plan template is a great idea.

6. Use a Project Management Tool

The best project management tools help you write effective action plans and keep you on track. Project management software like Monday.com, ClickUp, and Wrike have project planning and reporting features that help you monitor the progress of your project and the performance of your project team.

Action Plan Template

An action plan template makes it easier and faster for you to create an action plan for your goal or project. While almost every action plan template follows the same format, modifications vary depending on its purpose and the industry.

1. Business Action Plan

Business Action Plan Template

2. Marketing Action Plan

Marketing Action Plan Template

3. Sales Action Plan

Sales Action Plan

4. Project Action Plan

Project action plan

5. Corrective Action Plan Template

Corrective action plan

Action Plan Example

An example of an action plan for a marketing agency.

Problem: Slow growth due to lack of sufficient employees and clients.

Goal: Increase profit by 50% within three years.

We expect our marketing agency to increase our profitability by 150% as we increase our marketing and customer service team and attract more clients over the next three years.

Current State of Our Agency: Annual profit of $100,000, six employees, and fifteen clients.

Our Agency in Six Months: Training for our existing customers in marketing and customer service and our profit will increase by 10%.

Our Agency in 12 Months: Annual profit of $150,000, ten employees, and 25 clients.

Our Agency in Three Years: Annual profit of $225,000, fifteen employees, and fifty clients.

Action Plan to Achieve Our Goal

Task 1 – Training

Action: Train all employees in the latest marketing and sales trends, client acquisition, and customer service.

Completion Date: August 2022

Person Responsible: Project Manager

Task 2 – Recruitment

Action: Work with the HR manager to hire new employees that fit the skill sets needed to achieve the agency’s goal.

Completion Date: November 2023

Task 3 – Improve Customer Service

Action: Improve relations with clients to convert them into repeat customers by updating the agency’s website, taking note of their birthdays, and sending customized gifts showing the agency’s logo to them.

Completion Date: Ongoing

Person Responsible: IT Manager

Task 4 – Generate More Sales

Action: Organize meetings with clients and in-house staff to develop the best strategies for increasing sales conversions.

Completion Date: January 2024

Person Responsible: Sales Manager

Action: Run marketing campaigns on Google, Facebook, and Instagram to generate more sales for clients.

Completion Date: March 2024

Person Responsible: Marketing Manager

Task 5 – Reduce Friction at Payment Channels

Action: Optimize your payment clients for a seamless payment experience for your clients and increase the number of payment channels

Completion Date: May 2024

Task 6 – Expand Client Base

Action: Participate in relevant regional marketing summits to hunt for high-paying clients.

Completion Date: June 2024

Action: Target weaknesses in competitors’ services and offers and create better deals to attract more clients.

Completion Date: October 2024

Evidence of Success: Annual profit of $225,000 or more. Tracking and Evaluation Process: Assess staff size, client number, and profits.

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Anastasia belyh.

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Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.

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What is an action plan? Steps, template, and examples

how to write action plan for business

Editor’s note : This blog was updated 27 June 2023 to add more information about action plans, including examples of the types of organizations that can use action plans and an in-depth example study. The action plan template was also updated.

What Is An Action Plan? Steps, Template, And Examples

Have a thoughtfully laid-out product roadmap? Great! What’s next?

It’s time to make things happen and turn your product vision into reality.

As a product manager, you’re akin to an orchestrator, juggling multiple hats that need different levels of skill and communication — the glue that brings everything together. One of the most important things you need to get started is an action plan.

What is an action plan?

An action plan is a guiding document and work breakdown structure that outlines all the tasks that need to be completed so you can achieve your product goals.

An action plan is like a music sheet: if you have a defined set of notes, you know exactly what the music is going to sound like.

As the product manager, you need to be able to define the set of tasks in sequential order, considering dependencies and priorities, that will help you complete your project in the quickest, most efficient way possible.

What is an action plan example?

Action plans do not all have to be for complicated products or things — they can be for easy, short-term plans as well. For example, say a product team at a stationery company wants to introduce a new pen model. Their action plan could involve defining the new model’s design, sourcing materials, setting up manufacturing processes, determining marketing strategies, and setting a timeline for the product launch.

Another example could be a clothing brand apparel brand plans to launch a new, sustainable line. This action plan could include researching sustainable materials and manufacturing processes, designing the clothing line, determining pricing strategies, planning the marketing campaign to emphasize the sustainability angle, and coordinating the product launch across various sales channels.

As you can see, action plans don’t always have to be for complex software products. We’ll walk through an example later in the article more suited toward a digital tech product, but the point is that every team can use an action plan no matter what their product is!

How an action plan complements your product strategy

It’s important to note that an action plan and product strategy are not the same thing. Product strategy defines the high-level direction of what will make a product successful and a general idea of how to get there. An action plan is created from an execution standpoint and is not meant to define product strategy.

However, a good action plan should incorporate a long-term product strategy that aligns with business goals. Taking action that doesn’t ultimately lead to achieving your goals is simply unnecessary and a drain on your resources. A smart action plan embraces the fact that business goals and product priorities can change along the way, making it crucial to create a plan that is flexible and allows you to pivot with minimal disruptions.

All in all, an action plan (especially when finely tuned and strategic) complements your product strategy by providing an actionable roadmap to success. As mentioned earlier, while the product strategy paints the high-level vision for what will make a product successful, the action plan breaks this down into tactical steps — think of it as the bridge between the strategy and actual implementation. It’s important to clarify that a well-crafted action plan does not aim to redefine the product strategy but gives a path to execute it.

how to write action plan for business

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how to write action plan for business

How to create an action plan in 5 steps

Creating an action plan is a logical exercise, much like putting the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. It’s just that sometimes, you don’t have the jigsaw pieces readily available, so you have to do some digging to find them first.

Whether you’re using pen and paper or a more sophisticated project management tool such as Jira or Confluence, it’s important to write down your action plan so you can get everyone on the same page (literally) and reference it later.

The steps to writing an effective action plan are as follows:

  • Define goals
  • Build your framework and task list
  • Define roles and responsibilities
  • Communicate and get feedback
  • Update your action plan

1. Define goals

The most important step in creating an action plan is to define the goals you want to achieve through that plan. This isn’t exclusively about launching a new product feature or enhancing user experience, you can equally use an action plan to reinforce security measures or diminish your product’s tech debt. The goals can be big or small, but defining them clearly is crucial.

To ensure these goals are robust and measurable, incorporate data metrics as your success indicators and set feasible timelines. The more precise and data-centric your goals, the more actionable they become. For example: Increase net-new users by X percent through the release of Y new feature by the end of Q3.

2. Build your framework and task list

Now that you have your goals defined, work backward from your goals and think about all the different pieces you need to reach them.

When dealing with so many moving parts, it’s important to create a structure for them. We call this the work breakdown structure.

Essentially, this involves dissecting the project into smaller, manageable tasks. Organize these tasks into groups and create dependencies and communication links between them. This forms the framework you can use to fully build out your action plan.

The framework will help you create a holistic execution plan and force you to think about the things that you possibly could have missed. No two companies are alike, so create a detailed framework that works for you and your company.

Example action plan framework

Here’s an example of a simple, high-level framework for a process-oriented action plan that’s ideal for software companies:

  • Product scoping
  • Technical scoping
  • UI/UX design
  • Development
  • Release and review

Product scoping — Gather product requirements through product analytics, customer discovery, cross-functional collaboration and internal feedback, competitive and market trends, and any other source that brings insights into the product you’re building. Consider how your product will impact existing customers, other products, teams, revenue streams, etc. within your company.

Technical scoping — Once you have the product requirements nailed down, having technical scoping discussions helps to understand technical feasibility and dependencies better.

UI/UX design — Create prototypes according to user experience and design best practices. This will help validate technical feasibility, customer usability, and alignment with product strategy.

Development — Now that we have a solid set of requirements that are ready to be developed, you can create further action plans specifically for development in collaboration with your engineering manager(s) . Together with your engineering leaders, break down the development phase into manageable chunks of work, taking into account technical dependencies and the sequential order of how the tasks must be developed.

Testing — Once your product is developed, it’s time to test it. Engage a variety of stakeholders to test your product. More feedback means more insights into how customers will perceive and use your product.

Release and review — Releasing a new product feature can be nerve-wracking. Having a release checklist to go with your action plan can be helpful. Think about all the things that need to be put in place before the release, including communicating with other stakeholders (e.g., support, marketing, sales, leadership, etc.). Once you release, review customer feedback to find ways to improve your product.

Once you have your framework, create a detailed list of tasks for each stage. Support each task with a written description of what the task entails and what defines it as completed . Reach out to your team members to help you understand each task better and include any other details that you think are relevant.

3. Define roles and responsibilities

Use the framework as a point of reference to manage your resources. Resources can make or break your project, so it’s important to manage them as efficiently as possible.

In collaboration with your engineering manager, establish the team that will be working on the specific project. Define the roles and responsibilities of each team member and make sure everyone understands how they are expected to contribute to the project.

Assign tasks to team members accordingly and help them understand the scope of their tasks. It’s also important to collaboratively set up deadlines for tasks and then hold them accountable to those timelines.

4. Communicate and gather feedback

You now have a well-established action plan. You know who is doing what, when, and how it all leads up to achieving the goals of your action plan. But there are always caveats.

For instance, sometimes you make assumptions before validating, or you’re just not aware of something that can become a problem later on. The list of potential nags is literally endless.

To avoid this, communicate your action plan to your core team, management, cross-functional stakeholders, and other team members to gather feedback. Being open to feedback is critical to learning and growing. Incorporating feedback will build your own credibility and will help evolve the process of creating action plans.

5. Update your action plan

The only constant is change. As market trends and business strategies evolve, you have to be ready to pivot. This can put a damper on your well-established action plans.

Acknowledging this and building flexibility into your action plans will help you keep projects on track. Create milestones or checkpoints in your action plans; this will enable you to make informed decisions on how best to pivot when the need arises.

As things change, update your action plan and communicate at the earliest possible to the project team, as well as any other stakeholder that needs to be in the loop.

Action plan in-depth example: Improving user engagement with a new feature

Let’s walk through a specific (and realistic) example product managers may face — improving user engagement by releasing a new feature. Specifically, let’s say you’re working on a news app and have been seeing declining user engagement recently. You’re not exactly sure why, but think that introducing a personalization feature might increase engagement. Following the steps outlined to create an action plan, the process would look like this:

The primary goal is to increase user engagement by 20 percent over the next two quarters. You’ll do this by introducing a personalization feature that tailors content to the individual user’s interests — something that we believe our competitors are doing already.

This will be measured by tracking metrics such as session duration, number of articles read per session, and click-through rates on personalized content suggestions.

You’ll use the simple, high-level framework we outlined to build the task list.

Product scoping — Conduct market research to understand user preferences for personalized content and see how our competitors are currently doing it.

Technical scoping — Collaborate with the technical team to assess the feasibility of implementing personalization algorithms, dependencies, and any potential challenges. This step may include meetings with data scientists and backend developers.

UI/UX design — Design the user interface for the personalized content feed. It could include the location of the personalized feed on the home screen, a section for users to choose their interests, etc. This step will involve creating wireframes, developing prototypes, and conducting user testing to validate the design.

Development — Implement the personalization feature, including the development of the algorithm, changes to the backend to handle user data securely, and the frontend changes to display personalized content.

Testing — Extensively test the new feature for usability, security, learning curve, etc.

Release and review — Plan the release of the new feature, and consider a soft launch with a small user group to collect early feedback. After the release, continue to collect user feedback to identify any needs for improvement.

For the sake of our example, let’s assume all of the team members have availability to help. The product manager will work on the product scoping phase and coordinate with the technical team for technical scoping, UX designers will handle the UI/UX design phase, developers and data scientists will work on developing the personalization algorithm and integrating it with the app during the development phase, etc.

4. Communicate and get feedback

The plan is then shared with all stakeholders — the core team, senior management, executives, and other teams impacted by this feature. You’ll get their feedback and make the necessary amendments. You’ll also use project management tools to ensure everyone has a clear understanding of the action plan and their roles.

Lastly, you’ll set up regular reviews to monitor progress and make necessary changes in the plan as we encounter new information or challenges.

Action plan template

Now that you have a foundational understanding of what to include in an action plan and how to write one, where do you start?

This action plan template is designed to help you keep track of tasks, resources, dependencies, and progress in a single, easy-to-read, and even easier-to-update spreadsheet:

Action Plan Template

To customize the action plan template for your next project, click here and select File > Make a copy from the main menu at the top of the page.

5 tips to build an action plan that drives value

A rushed or incomplete action plan will lead to stress and frustration down the road. Here are five best practices to help you create an effective and efficient action plan:

  • Create multiple action plans
  • Identify milestones and critical tasks
  • Communicate early and often
  • Embrace technology
  • Continuously improve your processes

1. Create multiple action plans

Action plans can get pretty daunting for bigger projects. Don’t overwhelm yourself; use the same concept as the work breakdown structure.

Start by creating a holistic, high-level action plan that encompasses the entire project. Then, take each part of that plan and break it down further, and so on.

You can create individual action plans for each part of the high-level action plan. You may also need to do this for specific parts of the project if they have a lot of dependencies or require many people to collaborate with each other.

2. Identify milestones and critical tasks

When you have numerous tasks, you might have trouble managing them all.

Identifying milestones and critical tasks can bring visibility to the most important parts of the action plan. Make sure you have the right stakeholders in the room when discussing these.

Celebrating milestones is also a great way to improve the morale of the team.

3. Communicate early and often

No matter how detailed your action plans are, if you are not able to communicate them properly to the project team, it will be difficult to achieve your goals.

Keep the communication continuously flowing and keep an eye out for blockers. As the product manager, you need to work with the team to remove obstacles and keep things moving along.

Communication also goes a long way to align the team during change management .

4. Embrace technology

Technology can make our lives so much easier when we know how to apply it in the right ways.

There are many software tools that can help you create, document, and manage your action plans. Assess your needs and experiment with free trials to gauge which tool suits your process the best.

If paid software is too far out of the picture at the moment, you can simply use Google Sheets/Docs or Microsoft Excel/Word to create your action plan. Click here for a simple action plan template in Google Docs.

5. Continuously improve your processes

Small things that are done to better the process eventually add up and create drastic efficiencies over time.

Make time for feedback and introspection loops. Find ways to incorporate relevant feedback and distribute the knowledge. Monitor for process patterns and areas that need improvement and discuss with the team how you can make the overall process better for everybody.

Collaborate with the team to make improvements incrementally and continuously .

The framework and process for creating and managing action plans can vary based on the project and team. As long as you have action plans documented and communicate regularly with relevant stakeholders, you will be able to get things done efficiently.

Remember, as the orchestrator (product manager), you need your music sheet (action plan) and your orchestra (project team) to align, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic concert (product)!

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How to Write an Action Plan (Example Included)


What Is an Action Plan?

In project management, an action plan is a document that lists the action steps needed to achieve project goals and objectives. Therefore, an action plan clarifies what resources you’ll need to reach those goals, makes a timeline for the action items and determines what team members are required. We’ll define what project goals, project objectives, action items and action steps are later in this guide.

An action plan is similar to a project implementation plan, and it’s very helpful during the project planning and project execution phases. That’s because an action plan documents the execution of the project plan; it’s a detailed list of the work that must be done to complete the project goals, from the start of the project to the finish.

Action Plan Sample

Take a look at this sample of an action plan. We used our free action plan template for Excel and filled out some potential marketing tasks, phases and assignees. It’s a thorough action plan that accounts for progress, timelines, planned hours, resources and even costs. It’s a great place to start when making your own action plan. Download it and keep reading to make an ideal action plan.

action plan sample and free action plan template for Excel

Action Plan Components

An action plan answers the who, what and when of what you’re proposing. Those questions are answered by the various components that make up an action plan. The following are the basic building blocks of a successful action plan.

  • Action Plan Steps: The action plan steps are the answer to the question of what. They’re the activities that’ll lead to achieving your goal. Action plan steps detail what will happen, and the more detail, the better.
  • Action Items: The action items are the specific, small tasks that make up the action plan steps. These are the tasks that, when executed, lead to the next action plan step.
  • Action Plan Timeline: An action plan timeline is the whole action plan laid out from start to finish. It shows the full duration of the action plan and every step and task is also plotted on this timeline, including their start and end dates.
  • Action Plan Resources: Resources are anything needed to execute the action plan. That includes labor, materials, equipment, etc. You’ll want to identify the resources you’ll need for the action plan and attach them to the tasks to which they’ll be applied.
  • Action Plan Matrix: A matrix is just a tool to help you determine which tasks you need to complete and in what order. Use our free action plan template to outline the steps, items, timeline and resources you’ll need to get the plan done right.
  • Action Plan Report: Once you start to execute the action plan, you’ll need to ensure your actual progress matches your planned progress. To track progress, you’ll want to use an action plan report, which is a snapshot of your time, costs and more over a specific period.

Not only are you figuring out the action steps and timeline, but you’ll also determine who you’ll assemble for your project team to work on those tasks. This requires robust project management software like ProjectManager . ProjectManager offers multiple action planning tools such as Gantt charts, kanban boards, project calendars and more. Best of all, these project planning views sync with project dashboards, timesheets and workload charts to keep track of progress, project resources and costs.

Action plan on a Gantt chart in ProjectManager

Types of Action Plans

There are many different types of action plans that are used on various kinds of strategic initiatives. Each is similar in makeup but differs in their goals. Here are a few of the varieties of action plans.

Business Action Plan

A business action plan is used to set goals and tasks when you want to start a business or grow an existing business. It outlines the vision for the business and the actions you’ll take to achieve that vision.

Project Action Plan

An action plan for a project is really no different from a general action plan. The only difference is that it’s about producing a deliverable at the end of the plan, whether that be a product or service.

Personal Action Plan

Again, a personal action plan differs little from any other action plan except for the goal. For example, a personal action plan might be for an individual to exercise more. Therefore, the goal might be to walk for a half-hour a day, say, during lunchtime.

how to write action plan for business

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Action Plan Template

Use this free Action Plan Template for Excel to manage your projects better.

How to Write an Action Plan for Project Management in 10 Steps

The benefits of an action plan are simple: you’ve now outlined what action steps and what resources are needed to reach your stated project goals. By having this collected in a single project management document, you can more successfully plan out how to execute your project plan.

People get overwhelmed by project management jargon when having to plan out a project, but the word “action” everyone can understand. The fundamentals to getting an action plan together for any project follow these four project planning basic steps:

1. Define Your Project Goals

There’s a difference between project goals and project objectives. Project goals refer to the high-level goals that the project will achieve. Those generally align with the strategic planning and business objectives of organizations.

2. Define Your Project Objectives

The project objectives are much more specific than the project goals. Project objectives refer to the deliverables and milestones that need to be completed to achieve your project goals.

3. Define Action Steps

The action steps are a group of related tasks or action items that must be executed to produce project deliverables.

4. Identify and Prioritize Action Items

Action items are small, individual tasks that make up the action steps that are outlined in your action plan. First, you need to identify task dependencies among them, and then assign those action items a priority level so that they’re executed sequentially.

5. Define Roles & Responsibilities

Now that you’ve divided the work required to accomplish your action plan, you’ll need to assign action items to your project team members and define their roles and responsibilities.

RACI chart example in ProjectManager

6. Allocate Resources

As with your project plan, your action plan has resource requirements. Having identified your action steps and action items will help you understand what resources are needed for each task and allocate them accordingly.

7. Set SMART Goals

Your action plan needs to be monitored and controlled to measure its performance. That’s why it’s important that you set SMART goals for your action items, action steps and your project objectives. SMART goals stand for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

8. Set a Timeline for Your Action Plan

As a project manager, you’ll need to do your best to estimate how long it’ll take to complete your action items and action steps. Once you do so, you’ll have a timeline. You can use project management techniques like PERT charts or the critical path method to better estimate the duration of your project action plan.

Gantt Chart template for Microsoft Excel

9. Write an Action Plan Template

Create or use a simple action plan template to collect tasks, deadlines and assignments. This is the place where everything task-related goes in your project action plan, so you have a place for all this crucial information.

Writing an action plan template it’s a great idea because you’ll need to use that format throughout the project. That’s why we’ve created a free action plan template that you can download. There are also dozens of other free project management templates for Excel and Word that can help you with every phase of your project.

10. Use a Project Management Tool

Use a project management tool to keep you on task. ProjectManager has project planning features that help you monitor and report on project progress and performance. Get a high-level view of the action plan with our live dashboards. Unlike other tools, we don’t make you set up the dashboard.

Once you’ve mapped out your action plan, you can use project planning tools to zoom into all the details about your action steps and action items. With ProjectManager, you can calculate various metrics, such as project variance, workload and more. They’re displayed in easy-to-read charts and graphs. Share them with stakeholders to give them updates on action steps whenever they want.

Track an action plan with ProjectManager's dashboard

Tips to Write an Action Plan

Once you have an action plan, how do you work with it to run a successful project? Here are some tips to help with implementing your action plan:

  • Focus on priorities and what’s due now when identifying action steps and setting your action plan timeline
  • When you complete action steps, mark them off
  • Have your team members work on one project management platform
  • Set up alerts
  • Discuss pending or overdue tasks

Action Plan Example

We’ve been talking a lot about an action plan, but let’s take a look at one in-depth. Below, you’ll see our free action plan template . It’s set up for the development of a website.

It’s broken down into phases, the first being the project planning phase , which includes the action steps, market research and the design of the site. You’ll see that tasks are outlined for each action step, including a description of that task, who’s assigned to execute it, the priority and even the status of its completion.

This is followed by the third action step, which is the launch of the site. This is the execution phase of the action plan, but it follows the same format, such as noting the priority, who’s responsible for the work, what that work is and its status.

action plan steps and action items

There’s also a timeline to define the start dates of each of the tasks in the action steps, including the planned hours. This allows you to determine the length of each task and the duration of the entire action plan, from start to finish.

action plan timeline

Finally, there’s a place to add your resources. They’re broken down into departments, for example, marketing, web development, etc. Then the materials that are required for each task are listed, including their costs. This allows you to estimate the cost of the plan.

action plan resource

How to Make An Action Plan With ProjectManager

Follow along with this action plan example to see how action plans are typically laid out using project planning software .

1. Map Action Plan Steps Using Multiple Project Views

ProjectManager can help you build your action plan and then execute it. Collect all your action steps tasks on our list view, which does more than light-weight to-do list apps because it allows you to then map your action plan with Gantt charts , project calendars and kanban boards. These robust project management tools allow you to prioritize action items, customize tags and show the percentage complete for each task. Our online project management software gives you real-time data to help you create an action plan and stick to it.

ProjectManager's list view

2. Assign Action Items to Your Team Members

Once you’ve mapped out your action plan steps with ProjectManager’s project planning tools , you can assign tasks to your team members and indicate what resources are needed for the completion of each action item. Indicate their roles and responsibilities and set priority levels for each task to ensure the work is carried out properly.

3. Set Action Plan Steps and Deliverables

It’s important to note all the phases of the project timeline to know what action steps and tasks will take place and when. In addition, ProjectManager’s Gantt chart allows you to identify project phases, find the critical path, and set due dates for project milestones and deliverables

4. Track Progress With Real-Time Dashboards

Once you start the project, you’ll need to chart the progress of the work being done. This leads us to the real-time project dashboard , where you’ll check whether your action plan is on schedule and under budget.

Manage Your Project With an Action Plan

Getting a plan together is only the first part of managing a project . Remember, it’s not something to write and put away, but rather it’s a living document that should follow you throughout the project life cycle. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, offers more tips on how to write an action plan in the video below.

Here’s a screenshot for your reference:

project planning fundamentals

ProjectManager’s Action Planning Tools are Ideal for Managing Action Plans

If you’re looking to make an action plan and then take action on it by executing, monitoring and reporting on a project, then you’ll want ProjectManager. Our online project management software lets you make an action plan online with multiple project planning tools such as Gantt charts, task lists, kanban boards and project calendars. Then, you can use timesheets, project dashboards and resource management tools to keep track of progress, time and costs.

Plan & Schedule With Gantt Charts

ProjectManager’s Gantt chart is ideal to map out your action plan on an interactive project timeline that helps you organize your tasks, link dependencies and set milestones. More than that, you can filter for the critical path. When you’re done scheduling your action steps you can set a baseline. This allows you to always see the planned versus actual progress of your action plan to help you stay on track.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart is ideal to map out action plans

Manage Action Items with Kanban Boards, Task Lists and Project Calendars

Once you’ve used the Gantt chart to create a timeline for your action plan, you can zoom into the nitty-gritty details of everyday work with kanban boards , task lists and project calendars. With these tools, you can assign tasks and give teams a collaborative platform to comment and share relevant documents with unlimited file storage and real-time communication features.

ProjectManager's kanban board showing action steps from an action plan

Track Progress, Resources and Costs With Real-Time Action Plan Dashboards

ProjectManager’s real-time action plan dashboards sync with all its project management tools so you can check the status of your action plan at any time. You can check on your team members’ progress to see who’s over or underallocated, check labor costs and track whether your team is on schedule.

dashboard showing project metrics in real-time

ProjectManager gives you all the tools you need to create and implement a successful action plan. Regardless of the type of action plan that you need to create, our award-winning project management software makes it easy to do so. Get started with a free 30-day trial today. 

Click here to browse ProjectManager's free templates

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Small Business Trends

What is an action plan and how to create one + an example.

Table of Contents

What is an Action Plan?

The concept of an action plan is not limited to any specific domain, making it a versatile tool. It can be applied in various fields such as business, education, project management, personal growth, healthcare, and so forth.

Creating an Effective Action Plan

How to write an action plan.

To make the process of creating an action plan easier, we’ve provided a summary table below. This table functions like a checklist, outlining clear steps and eliminating any confusion about what needs to be done next.

StepsDescriptionKey Points
1. Define the goalEstablish a clear and concise objective that guides the rest of the plan.Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
2. Identify the necessary actionsOutline the specific tasks and activities that need to be performed to achieve the defined goal.Tasks should be specific, measurable, and have clear deliverables. Project management tools and techniques can be useful in this step.
3. Assign tasks and responsibilitiesEnsure all the tasks have a designated person responsible for their completion.Responsibilities should be clearly defined and each person should understand their role. Consider strengths, skills, and availability when assigning tasks.
4. Determine the timeline and deadlinesCreate a timeline that outlines when each task should start and finish, and when milestones should be reached.A clear timeline and deadlines keep the project on track, prioritize tasks, and ensure timely completion. Use a calendar or Gantt chart to outline the schedule.
5. Establish a system for monitoring progressImplement tools, processes, and metrics that can be used to measure the project's progress against the timeline and goals.Monitoring system should be simple, efficient, and easy to use. Provides real-time visibility into the project's progress and helps in accountability.
6. Track progress, evaluate, and adjust as necessaryRegularly review the actual progress of the project and make any necessary adjustments to the plan, timeline, and actions.Continuous evaluation and adjustment ensure the project remains on track and aligns with goals and objectives. Use key metrics for evaluation, like task completion rates, timeline progress, and resource utilization.

Step 1: Define the goal

To define a goal effectively, it is important to consider several key factors. First, the goal should be specific, meaning that it should clearly state what is to be achieved. Second, it should be measurable, allowing for progress to be tracked and evaluated.

Step 2: Project management – Identify the necessary actions

They also work closely with the team to ensure that the necessary resources are available, that risks are identified and managed, and that progress is tracked and reported. Using project management best practices, the team can ensure that the necessary actions are performed efficiently and effectively and that the project remains on track and on schedule.

Step 3: Assign tasks and responsibilities to project managers and any person responsible

Step 4: determine the timeline and deadlines.

This step involves creating a timeline that outlines when each task should start and finish, and when milestones should be reached. The timeline should be based on the scope of the project, the availability of resources, and any other constraints. Use a calendar or gannt chart to outline the exact schedule for each step.

Step 5: Establish a system for monitoring progress

Having a system for monitoring progress is important for several reasons. First, it provides real-time visibility into the project’s progress, allowing the project manager and team to quickly identify any issues or challenges that may arise.

Step 6: Track progress, evaluate, and adjust as necessary

Tracking progress is an important part of this step, as it provides the data and metrics needed to evaluate the project’s progress and identify any areas for improvement. The project manager should use the system for monitoring progress to track key metrics, such as task completion rates, timeline progress, and resource utilization. This information can then be used to assess the project’s progress against the goals and timeline and to identify any areas for improvement.

Do I Need an Action Plan?

This is especially true for larger companies that are trying to navigate complex projects or launch multiple initiatives at the same time. An action plan can help them stay organized, track project progress, anticipate potential challenges, and simplify hiring .

Why Your Business Should Have an Action Plan

Plan of action example (template), i. define the goal:, ii. identify necessary actions:, iii. assign responsibilities:, iv. determine timeline and deadlines:, v. establish a system for monitoring progress:, vi. evaluate and adjust as necessary:, tips for building a fantastic action plan.

Building an action plan is the first step to reaching your business goals. Here are five tips for creating a fantastic action plan:

Action Plan Vs To-Do List

Action plan vs strategic plan.

On the other hand, a strategic plan is a comprehensive roadmap designed for long-term goals. It involves a broader perspective, focusing on the ‘why’ behind the goals. This plan outlines the organization’s vision, mission, and core objectives over a more extended period, often including market analysis, competitive positioning, and long-term resource allocation. While action plans are more about tactical execution, strategic plans provide the overarching direction and purpose that guide these actions.

Action Plan Vs Project Plan

How to Write and Develop an Action Plan for Your Small Business

Author: JT Ripton

6 min. read

Updated October 29, 2023

Download Now: Free 1-Page Business Plan Template →

Taking action at the appropriate time is critical to turning your visions into a viable reality. However, doing so without a proper strategy can be a recipe for disaster. 

A well-designed and concrete action plan that weighs all the benefits and possible challenges is the key to executing your vision successfully. Furthermore, it makes tracking progress easier, which in turn helps you attain your goals. 

Whether it’s a business, personal, or career goal you are going after, the right action plan can be your roadmap to success. A comprehensive plan details all the information regarding your objectives and projects, such as the resources required, the complexity level of tasks, etc.

Let’s figure out how you can build one to achieve your goals successfully and efficiently.

  • What is an action plan and why is it important?

An action plan serves as a trajectory for the tasks or steps you need to accomplish to reach your goals and objectives. It is a crucial part of your strategic process that helps you improve teamwork planning significantly. Also, a proper action plan allows you to manage projects efficiently.

You have all the essential information in a centralized location that your team can access, making it easier for everybody to monitor progress and plan things successfully. As your company grows and circumstances change, you can revisit and make modifications to meet your latest requirements.

Planning of action items helps you prepare for any obstacles ahead. You’re your teams on track while ensuring impactful results. Furthermore, it also boosts your productivity and keeps everybody focused on urgent tasks.  

Here are some of the reasons why an action plan is vital for you:

  • It gives you a clear sense of direction by highlighting precisely the steps you need to take when you need to take that and what it will help you accomplish 
  • Having your objectives and goals on paper with structured steps keeps the team members motivated and dedicated throughout the project
  • You can gauge your and member’s progress and contribution toward the collective goals
  • You can turn your visions into reality, increase accountability and efficiency within your organization

How to create an effective action plan 

When it comes to creating an action plan, various practical methods and tools can help you develop a robust action program. Begin by following this straightforward 7-step strategy.

Following these steps for structuring your action plan incidentally also acts as a brilliant roadmap for your idea’s overall presentation and can effectively create a clear goal.

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1. Define your scope

It is essential to define your scope, create a roadmap, and align it with your strategic planning . Make sure your actions guide you toward company goals. Start by gauging how your team members can contribute and help you achieve your objectives.

If you don’t have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, it might be challenging for you to plan a new initiative. Defining your current status and where you see your company helps you analyze the situation, explore potential solutions and implement strategies successfully.

2. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals

S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) objectives or goals is a method of objective setting that enables employees and managers to set, monitor, and achieve their long-term and short-term goals. This approach brings tractability and structure together.

Once you map out your plan, scope, and aim to accomplish, the next step requires you to set well-defined goals and measurable tools. Create a template to highlight all the tasks that your team needs to perform and deadlines.

It is vital to make sure that your entire team is on the same page, involved in the process, and has access to the document. This way, the projects become manageable while also boosting team productivity.

Furthermore, ensure that the tasks are attainable. If you have more complex tasks, it’s essential to break them down into manageable parts for easy execution. 

3. Visualize your plan

Once you plan on the action items, prioritize tasks, and set milestones, the next step is creating a visual representation of your action plan. This visualization helps you engage your team and allow everyone to follow through to carry out activities.

A graphical presentation also makes it easier to get a bird’s eye view of your project. This way, you can identify your objectives and tasks that you weren’t able to execute or reach, allowing you to prioritize them to accomplish them.

You can elaborate your action plan with the help of a concept map that can help you explicitly communicate all the essential elements and information — task owners, tasks owners, resources, goals, objectives, deadlines, etc. Also, make sure the document is easily accessible to all. 

Additionally, you can also leverage online visual collaboration platforms to help you seamlessly visualize and structure your simple and complex concepts.

4. Prioritize your tasks

It is imperative to align all your activities with specific goals and assign them to relevant team members. When you list and prioritize all your tasks, it helps keep track of your projects’ status, progress, and completion. 

You could also structure your task list by importance. This way, everyone knows what needs to be done first to meet your deadlines effectively while ensuring that your employees can manage those tasks. That way, your team will also know their responsibilities and tasks to get done and engage them with a clear vision.

5. Set milestones 

Milestones are the objectives that your team aims to achieve to keep a specific project progressing at a steady pace. Your work will have a lot smoother flow when everybody is clear with goals.

When you set milestones , it serves as mini-goals that help you achieve your central goal towards the end. Adding milestones to your action plan is crucial to give your team members something to look forward to and encourage them to stay motivated throughout.

6. Identify your resources

Before starting your project, it is imperative to ensure that you have the critical resources to complete the tasks successfully. And if you don’t have adequate resources, devise a strategy to leverage what you have effectively. Include all the essential components such as the number of projects, budget, timelines, etc., to make sure you don’t miss out on vital aspects.

Knowing what you have to work with will ensure that any tasks or projects you set out to accomplish have a better chance of succeeding. If you don’t have enough cash, a large enough team, or even enough time to manage every project, you’ll soon find yourself struggling to meet milestones and deadlines.

7. Monitor, gauge, and update

It is pivotal to allocate time and resources to evaluate your projects’ and teams’ progress. Make sure you conduct frequent follow-ups with team members to see if everybody is on track. 

For this reason, you need to elaborate on the follow-up and assessment of teams in your action plan. This will help you implement the strategies that work well and eradicate the ineffective ones.

  • A guide to reaching your goals

An action plan is an indispensable tool that helps you guide your way to realizing your goals. It turns your visualization into actionable steps and milestones. 

From larger departments in an organization to individual employees, an action plan is a defined methodology that helps you outline your activities, tasks, resources, budget, objectives, etc. This, in turn, allows you to achieve desired outcomes.

Content Author: JT Ripton

JT Ripton is a business consultant and a freelance writer out of Tampa. JT has written for companies like T-Mobile and others.

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Table of Contents

  • How to create an effective action plan 

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What is an action plan? (Example and template)

May 3, 2024 - 10 min read

Kelechi Udoagwu

An action plan is a definitive checklist of tasks and resources needed to complete a project or achieve a goal. You can think of it as a visual countdown to the project delivery or a breakdown of the list of tasks needed to achieve desired results.

Now you may be thinking, “What is the purpose of an action plan vs. a to-do list ?” 

The most significant difference between action plans and to-do lists is that action plans focus on achieving a specific goal . In contrast, to-do lists are ongoing and include tasks for different goals and projects. 

Understanding this distinction, it becomes clear that action plans are powerful tools for goal setting and project execution. They help teams manage necessary resources, adhere to schedules, and track progress toward specific goals and project initiatives. 

In this article, we’ll go through the purposes of action plans, the key steps usually included in them, how you can use action plans to help your project management, and step-by-step instructions on how to put one together yourself. 

And, as a bonus, we’ll also give you information on Wrike’s prebuilt action plan template , which can jump-start your action plan process. 

What is the purpose of an action plan?

An action plan , also sometimes referred to as a plan of action , helps order project tasks in a sequential and timely manner to achieve a goal. Project managers and individuals can use action plans to achieve their work and personal project goals.

Developing an action plan clarifies the goals to be achieved, the teams and service providers to involve, and the tasks, dependencies, milestones, and resources needed to complete the project.

Working with an action plan ensures you complete every task and requirement to meet the expected standards of a project. As you develop an action plan, you identify any critical paths and dependencies. 

Keep in mind that a developed action plan isn’t set in stone, because the environment in which projects operate is often subject to change . External factors such as market conditions, economic influences, technology advancements or failures, regulatory requirements, and unexpected events can impact the execution of any plan. A dynamic document allows for flexibility and adaptability so you can adjust your strategies in response to evolving circumstances.

Why are action plans important in project management?

​​An action plan in project management is a quick and easy way to keep projects on track. Creating an action plan means you can quickly map out the resources and requirements you need and sketch a timeline to complete tasks. 

Here are several benefits of using a strategic action plan in project management:

  • They’re simple and easy to set up, helping to maintain operational efficiency without taking much time.
  • They declutter managers’ minds by providing a framework for structuring new projects in a sensible order.
  • They clarify the objectives of the project and build consensus on how the work should be done.
  • They prepare you for predictable and preventable challenges and focus your resources to achieve your main goals for the project. 
  • They maximize personal and team productivity and resource allocation.
  • They reduce the possibility of forgetting tasks in the project.
  • They generate a goal-driven workflow, so you know what to work on throughout the project.
  • They provide a way to track progress as you check tasks off the action plan as you complete them.

Action plan vs. project plan

Action plans should not be confused with project plans . Both list the tasks, resources, and timelines required to achieve a desired goal, but project plans go deeper, including details such as contingency plan action steps, risk mitigation strategies, quality assessment criteria, and stakeholder communication schedules. In contrast, action plans simply list the tasks, resources, and timelines needed to achieve a goal. 

Think of it this way: For big, complex, or long-term projects, you create a project plan first. Once your project plan is in place, an action plan helps you detail the steps and flow for allocating resources, sharing and executing tasks, and setting deadlines.

In summary, action plans and project plans differ in the following ways: 

  • Complexity : Action plans are simpler than project plans. They focus solely on the tasks, resources, and timelines required to achieve a goal. Project plans include additional sections for other measures, standards, and procedures for completing a project. 
  • Duration : Action plans focus on specific, short-term goals. These may be for standalone goals or part of a larger project. Project plans are more encompassing, covering longer-term objectives, which may take months or years to complete. 
  • Flow : Action plans are linear, with one task following another until the goal is achieved. Project plans may have multiple phases, e.g., planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and reviewing, with each stage containing its own distinct tasks and deliverables.

The components of an action plan

Let’s take a look at the essential components of an action plan:

  • Action plan objectives: The action plan objectives serve as the main guide for the action plan, defining and communicating what the plan seeks to achieve. 
  • Action plan steps: Action plan steps form the core of the action plan. They detail crucial targets and set milestones that must be completed to reach the goal. These steps divide the goal or project into manageable chunks and provide a framework for identifying tasks (action items), allocating resources, and determining timelines. 
  • Action plan items: Action plan items are the nitty-gritty details of the action plan — the actual tasks to be performed. Each action plan item must be clearly defined, actionable, and understood by the team involved. 
  • Action plan timeline: The action plan timeline maps out the plan schedule from start to finish. It’s crucial for setting expectations, tracking progress and performance, and ensuring the project stays on schedule. 
  • Action plan resources: These are the inputs required to execute the plan, e.g., labor, time, tools, and funds. Identifying action plan resources before delving into execution helps ensure tasks are not delayed or compromised due to resource constraints. 
  • Action plan matrix: The action plan matrix provides a structured layout for the strategic planning of tasks. It serves as a roadmap and helps to categorize your action steps and tasks based on priority, status, and resource allocation. This alignment helps identify any dependencies or potential bottlenecks.
  • Action plan report: The action plan report provides an overview of the progress made in executing the action plan. It includes details like the tasks completed, time taken, costs incurred, resources used, and any deviations from the plan.
  • Assignments: Each task should be assigned to a person, team, or group. Clear assignment of responsibility is crucial for accountability and the successful execution of any action plan.

What are the key steps of an action plan?

The main point of a plan of action is to ensure you don’t overlook critical tasks and milestones of your project. In its simplest form, developing an effective action plan entails listing tasks you need to complete and prioritizing them.

As you develop your action plan, you decide which tasks you can delegate, outsource, or delay. The steps below map out how to write a sound action plan to increase your chance of success.

Step 1: Define your goal 

Get clear on what you want to achieve with your project. Define the action plan in terms of where you are and where you want to be. If you have alternative methods to achieve your goal, assess your situation and decide the best chances of success depending on your resources.

Step 2: List tasks

Once you have your goal, list the tasks and activities you must complete to achieve it. Then order them sequentially by adding key dates and deadlines. This should include a time frame with start and end dates for each task.

product screenshot of wrike blueprint on aqua background

Step 3: Identify critical tasks

Are there any specific steps that must be completed before others can start? These are critical time-bound tasks with dependencies. Prioritize these tasks and set realistic deadlines. If you plan to assign them to team members, be sure to let them know the dependencies and allow enough time to deliver them.

product screenshot of wrike gantt chart on aqua background

Step 4: Assign tasks

Now that the project is broken down, you can start assigning tasks. Will you be handling some yourself in addition to managing the project? Make sure you allocate time and human resources carefully — you may choose to delegate or outsource specific tasks.

Step 5: Assess and improve

At the end of each project, assess performance, analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics, and learn from mistakes or missteps to improve your action planning and project execution. If you work with a team, collect feedback and improvement suggestions from team members for better performance in the future.

product screenshot of wrike analyze on aqua background

Action plan best practices

Following these best practices will mean you ’ re more likely to succeed: 

  • Involve your team: When working with a team, involve them early in the planning process to get their input and save time. Get team members’ work schedules before assigning tasks to avoid conflicts. Clear communication enables responsible parties to prepare for their specific project tasks.
  • Set SMART goals: SMART goals are s pecific, m easurable, a ttainable, r elevant, and t imely. Ensure your action plan starts with a strong foundation by defining clear and SMART goals that add value, either as a personal project or at work.
  • Make your action plans into templates: To get more benefits from your action plans, make them into templates. After assessing your action plan at the end of a completed project, make a copy of the plan and remove all project-specific details, so you’re able to use the action planning template in future projects. This minimizes the need to repeat work, saving a lot of time and reducing errors.

Who needs to write an action plan?

Action plans aren’t just for project managers — they’re handy for all sorts of professionals and individuals tackling personal or business projects. Action plans can also be used alone or with a team. When working with a team, the leader puts together the action plan with everyone’s input.

Developing an action plan helps individuals, managers, and organizations finish their projects more successfully. They’re great for getting started, keeping track of what needs to be done, and maintaining progress on any project. Remember to check off tasks as they are done, update the plans, and communicate with your team as your project progresses.

A variation of a traditional action plan is a corrective action plan. Project managers and individuals use corrective action plans when they need to fix recurring problems or deviations in a project, process, or organization, so they don’t happen again in the future.

An example of an action plan 

Action plans are quick and easy to create. It’s all about putting down what you need to accomplish your goal or project. 

Here’s a simple action plan example for a marketing team working on a new campaign:

Action plan objective: Increase brand awareness and boost product sales by 30% by the end of Q4 2023 through a localized multimedia marketing campaign.

Jun 1, 2024

Jun 15, 2024


Jun 16, 2024

Jul 15, 2024


Jul 16, 2024

Jul 31, 2024


Aug 1, 2024

Dec 31, 2024


Jan 1, 2025

Jan 15, 2025


Other action plan examples in project management include:

  • Launching a new product
  • Organizing an event
  • Improving customer service
  • Enhancing employee training
  • Expanding into new markets
  • Increasing your social media following

Maximizing efficiency with action plan templates

A project action plan template is a preformatted document providing a framework to outline, execute, and track the tasks and specific actions needed to accomplish your larger goal. It streamlines the action planning process by providing a ready-to-use format you can quickly fill out to create a robust action plan. This way, you don’t waste time making one from scratch using Excel, Google Docs, or Microsoft Word. 

Wrike’s simple action plan template manages projects and goals with an intuitive interface designed to help plan and launch projects with teams of any size. This template’s features enable real-time collaboration, easy task assignments, time tracking, and reporting.

product screenshot of wrike team action plan

Common issues like a lack of visibility on remote workers’ assignments and confusing project priorities are mitigated with functionalities such as: 

  • Organizing tasks by departments into folders, making the journey from “To Do” to “In Progress” to “Completed” smooth
  • Identifying dependencies and defining the priority of tasks to determine which tasks need to be done first
  • Providing a snapshot of the tasks due now and in the coming weeks, ensuring the project schedule is adhered to
  • Securing sensitive data from unauthorized personnel with permissions offering various levels of access and visibility for collaborators and stakeholders

How to create an action plan with Wrike

Using project management tools helps to organize your business action plan visually and make it feel more achievable. With project management software like Wrike , you get a free action plan template included with your subscription — so you can easily input your project resources, requirements, and timelines, and track your progress throughout the project. 

As outlined above, the best way to jump-start your action plan is to use our prebuilt plan of action and milestones template . It helps you take control of your task management by providing sample folders to organize tasks, a calendar for project scheduling, and prebuilt dashboards for monitoring progress. All you have to do is add your tasks and due dates to get a complete overview of all project work. 

Our template works for all different types of action plans. You can use it as:

  • A personal action plan template for personal projects
  • A business action plan template to simplify project management
  • A corrective action plan template to fix issues with an existing project

If you’re ready to develop action plans and track your progress while better managing your projects, you need Wrike. We make it easy to plan, execute, and ensure success, even when you’re on the go.

Click here to start your free two-week trial and kick off your action plan today.

Kelechi Udoagwu

Kelechi Udoagwu

Kelechi is a freelance writer and founder of Week of Saturdays, a platform for digital freelancers and remote workers living in Africa.

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How To Create an Action Plan for Your Business [+Examples]

Last Updated on March 27, 2024 by Owen McGab Enaohwo

Start your free 14-day trial of SweetProcess No credit card needed. Cancel anytime. Click Here To Try it for Free.

Set a goal for your next project and watch it materialize if you take the right step.

Everyone has goals, but some people will be more successful than others in realizing them. People who accomplish goals better and faster are those who have developed an action plan and work to execute it. 

Executing an action plan is as important as creating it. This guide will walk you through the steps of documenting and implementing an action plan. Also, watch out for insights shared by founders and managers on how they built and implemented their most successful action plans.

Sign up for a free trial of SweetProcess now to create a successful action plan in minutes without a credit card.

Table of Contents

What Is an Action Plan?

How to Create an Action Plan for Your Business in 7 Steps

How to write an action plan for your business using sweetprocess, why you need an action plan to achieve your company’s goals, action plan examples from which you can learn, 8 core components of an action plan, types of action plans, how to implement an action plan successfully: tips and best practices, action plan templates you can swipe for your business, action plan vs. strategic plan: how they differ, action plan vs. implementation plan: how they differ, action plan vs. project plan: how they differ, action plan vs to-do list: how they differ, build your company’s action plans using sweetprocess, what is an action plan .

An action plan is a document that outlines the processes, tasks, and steps you need to cover to achieve a goal. A good action plan document will include actionable steps and procedures to follow, with a timeframe for each step. 

An example of this is Ling’s EAT (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness) action plan, which helped them boost their SEO with about 489% website traffic. Ling is a gamified language learning app, and the goal of this action plan was to boost the app’s download rate. This goal was achieved in one year. 

According to Simon Bacher, co-founder of Simya Solutions who is the creator of Ling, “We created a unique SEO strategy to EAT our way to the top with the following action steps:

  • Analyze on-page inventory 
  • Improve SEO content by optimizing keywords
  • Improve on-page SEO by optimizing images
  • Build topical authority with supporting content
  • Improve our internal and external link-building strategies through media outreach
  • Ensure our website is technically sound by improving our on-page SEO.” 

With these listed action steps, the Ling team was able to assign tasks and allocate resources, and the goal was reached within one year.

A well-structured action plan can make it easier for you to track and realize your goals. Whether you have a career, business, or personal goal, you can use an action plan to create a clear path to success. 

Creating an action plan is not as complex as it is made to look. Once you have your goal in mind, planning how to get there will be less challenging. Regardless of the different goals you plan to achieve, you will have to follow a similar pattern while creating your action plan. 

Meanwhile, the amount of detail in your action plan can vary based on the resources you have and the complexity of your project or goal.

There are three stages in the process of developing an action plan. They are the goal-setting stage, the planning stage, and the action stage. 

These stages are executed in seven steps, and they are discussed in detail below. 

Step 1: Define your goal

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” —Confucius

The above quote by Confucius made it clear that every goal can be achieved if your action plan has the right action steps. 

The success of an action plan starts with setting a clear goal. Having a goal makes it easy to have clarity of every other thing in between. You can determine the possible setbacks, the required resources, the feasible timeline, and so on. 

The first step in creating an action plan is to determine your goal. An important consideration at this stage is to ensure that you are setting SMART goals . 

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

Setting SMART goals will help you clarify your purpose and process and give your project a clear direction. Specific and measurable goals will make it easy to track your progress and make necessary modifications in the process. 

Step 2: Create objectives

When you have your SMART goal established, the next step is to choose your objectives. Your project objectives are the deliverables and milestones that must be completed to achieve your project goals.

You must ensure that such objectives align perfectly with your smart goals. Make sure you are not doing this alone but involving other team members to understand different perspectives and needs. 

At the end of your deliberations, you should choose objectives you can realistically achieve based on your budget, time, and resources.

Example of an objective: To produce and distribute an information pack on malaria diagnosis and management to all health clinics in the district within the next three months.

Step 3: Highlight the tasks needed to get it done 

To produce the deliverables required, you have to identify the tasks that need to be done. Once identified, it’s important to prioritize which task comes first and which one depends on another. 

Step 4: Identify the team responsible for doing it 

After listing out and prioritizing the required tasks, merge each of these tasks with the appropriate team and team members. This will help you know whether you have enough hands to get the job done. 

Step 5: Identify the needed resources

When you have identified the tasks required to succeed on the project, it will be easy to identify the resources needed for each task and at each stage. Figure out those resources and ensure you have them readily available. 

One of the best resources you should have in place is SweetProcess, a process standardization tool that makes your action plan easily executable. You can use SweetProcess for free here .

Step 6: State the indicators of success

Success is not only defined by reaching your goal. It’s important also to have varying metrics and milestones that can be used to determine whether your team is making progress. 

Will Yang, the head of growth and customer success at Instrumentl , an all-in-one grants platform that helps nonprofits find, track, and manage their grants in a single place, talked about the company’s action plan on building a customer-centric culture in the company . He said, “One of the initial steps taken was to rigorously define the success metrics for growth—this ranged from user acquisition targets to retention rates and customer lifetime value. We then worked backward from these goals to establish the necessary action steps, using Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to assign accountability and ensure alignment across the company.”

Step 7: Monitor and review your action plan

With your measurable goals and success metrics, it is easy to monitor and review your action plan. As the project execution progresses, you can check which action steps work perfectly and which need to be modified. 

An action plan requires that you have your standard operating procedures (SOPs) documented in one place. This will guide your team members on how each task is handled. A stack of different tasks will also need to be brought together as a process, and you must be able to assign different parts of the process and procedures to the concerned team members. 

A tool that has all these moving parts of an action plan in one place is SweetProcess . With SweetProcess, you can document your procedures, combine them to form a process, assign tasks to team members, and track progress execution. 

Thus, you have all the burdens lifted off your shoulders as a project manager, and it’s easy for all team members to know their assignments.

Without any learning curve and the need to break the bank, you can execute your action plan and make your next project a success. Start using SweetProcess for free without a credit card.

How to Create Procedures Using SweetProcess

If you want to create a new procedure in SweetProcess, you have the option of writing it from scratch, importing it from an existing document, or having SweetAI do the magic for you. 

  • Here’s a guide on how to create a new procedure in SweetProcess from scratch .
  • If you have existing procedures and would like to bring them over to SweetProcess, you can achieve that with a few clicks. Here’s how . 
  • If you want to make things happen fast and would like your procedure creation done for you, SweetProcess’s AI can do this for you in a few seconds. Here’s how to write your process with SweetAI .

How to Create Processes on SweetProcess

A process is a combination of different procedures. All the steps and procedures planned in your action plan can be put together in one place by creating a process in your SweetProcess account. 

Here’s how to create a process from existing procedures . You can also import your existing process and have SweetAI create your process for you. 

How to Create Company Policies Using SweetProcess

Your action plan will sometimes require that you embed certain company policies in your processes and procedure flow. SweetProcess helps you do this without a hitch. All you need is to document your company policies or import them over to SweetProcess. Once you have them over, you can easily attach any named policy to any part of your action plan in the process flow. 

Here’s how to create a policy in SweetProcess:

  • If you want to create your company policies from scratch, follow this guide . 
  • Here’s how to import an existing policy to SweetProcess .
  • Create your company policy with SweetProcess’s artificial intelligence function, SweetAI, following this guide . 
  • Here’s how to attach a policy to a process or procedure . 

How to Assign and Manage Tasks on SweetProcess

When you have all your processes, policies, and procedures documented in SweetProcess, you would want to bring your action plan to the limelight by delegating tasks to team members. In addition to delegation, you can also monitor the progress of each team member.

Here’s how to delegate and keep track of team members’ progress in SweetProcess .

If you’re on your way to picking a tool to aid the execution of your action plan, you may want to check out SweeetProcess . Companies like ShipCalm and Stone & Wood have success stories of how they reached their smart goals with the help of SweetProcess. 

Ted Fogliani, CEO of ShipCalm , had a goal of minimizing the stretch on their systems, employees, and facilities during their growing customer base amidst COVID-19. SweetProcess happens to be the tool that brings their dream to life. Features like easy process documentation, different knowledge bases for employees and customers, task assigning and tracking, employee sign-off, and much more are what make the process a walk in the park for the ShipCalm team. 

The fact that SweetProcess has no learning curve and allows access to different document versions and allows easy employee onboarding helped make it a top pick and a great fit for ShipCalm during its expansion phase.

According to Thomas Parker, the quality assurance and sensory coordinator at Stone & Wood, SweetProcess helped the company execute the action plan to comply with regulatory standards . They were able to achieve this with proper process documentation, simplified employee orientation, centralized knowledge base, and process customization, among other features offered by SweetProcess. 

Without a credit card, you can also access all the features in SweetProcess for 14 days to execute your next action plan.

If you’ve never used one before, you may want to ask why you need an action plan before you start working on a project.

It provides clarity of objective and direction

With a well-laid-down action plan, you have a clear roadmap to achieve your smart goals and objectives.

Aids task prioritization

Since each of the tasks in the plan will have different levels of priority, your action plan will help you create a realistic order of priority during the action planning phase.

Enhances proper resource allocation

The resources, tools, and manpower required to carry out your project can be easily accounted for. This way, you can easily avoid shortages or excess resources. 

Leads to focus and motivation

Each team member will be on the same page regarding the execution of the action plan. This will keep everyone on their toes in taking care of their assignments to achieve the objectives and deliverables.

Fosters team alignment

With a documented action plan, all your team members are always on the same page regarding who does what. This will foster cooperation and productivity .

From the real-time insights shared with us by Fortador and Bybrand, you can learn more about how developing and implementing action plans has contributed significantly to their business success.

Lev Tretyakov, the CEO and head of sales of Fortador, revealed how the successful implementation of action plans has been the driving force behind Fortador’s success. Fortador is a company that specializes in distributing sanitation and cleaning steam equipment. 

Lev talked about the action plan that was developed and implemented toward the launching of the company’s new product line of eco-friendly steam cleaners. They had to come up with a comprehensive action plan that outlined the details from conceptualization to the market launch.

Action Plan Goal

To launch a new product line of eco-friendly steam cleaners.

Action Plan Objectives

  • To source sustainable materials that conform to eco-friendly standards from suppliers. 
  • To produce the steam cleaner in a way that minimizes the environmental impact.
  • To revamp their assembly line and ensure reduced energy consumption.
  • To ensure the market acceptance of the new product and optimize sales.

Here’s what Fortador’s product launch action steps looked like according to Lev Tretyakov: 

  • Conceptualization: Identifying a gap in our product range, brainstorming how to fill the gap, factoring in market trends, customer needs, and Fortador’s strengths.
  • Design and development: After getting a concept, our design team came up with prototypes, which we tested and refined depending on the feedback.
  • Production: After working on the optimal design, we followed strict quality control measures in production to ensure the product matched our standards.
  • Marketing and promotion: As the production continued, our marketing team was actively working to develop a strategy to promote the product. They worked on social media campaigns, press releases, and email marketing.
  • The launch: We launched the product through in-store and online promotion events, and it was a success.

From his experience in executing this product launch action plan, Lev highlighted how implementing action plans has been of great influence on the company’s success. 

“An action plan serves as a clear outline of how to achieve a goal, what to anticipate, and what to do. It ensures everyone understands the end goal and their role and contributes towards it, which creates a sense of direction. It has helped the Fortador team navigate challenges, remain organized, and get through challenges better as everyone is working towards a common goal . ” 

—Lev Tretyakov, CEO and Head of Sales of Fortador

Bybrand is another company that developed an action plan to improve its strategic marketing goals by tapping into the boom of generative AI. 

Bernardo Castro, founder of Bybrand (a company that sells B2B email signature software), shared how implementing the action plan has helped them drive this vision. 

According to Bernardo, “The key to an action plan is to use a project management software. We created three goals using the SMART method of defining them. One of our goals is to implement the use of generative AI as a chatbot in the first few months of 2024. We had a specific aim, and it is measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.”

Bernardo explained that while building the action plan, the company assigned tasks to the marketing and IT teams that are mostly in charge of the chatbot deployment. 

“We looked at managed services, the benefits of developing our chatbot, and the limitations of the technology. We looked at the costs involved with launching a chatbot. We prioritized researching generative AI because a website chatbot would directly affect our sales. So, over the last few months, we have looked at the limitations of our current chat tool. And we have begun testing the AI chatbot for its launch in early 2024.”

—Bernado Castro, founder of Bybrand

SweetProcess is a standard operating procedure software that can help you create an executable action plan without prior experience. Sign up for free —no credit card is required.

The components of an action plan can vary slightly depending on the type of project and company. Meanwhile, some core components are indispensable in any action plan document, and they are discussed below.

These are deliverables that the plan should help you accomplish in working toward your goal.

Action Plan Steps

These are the set of activities that need to be carried out to reach your goal. Your action plan steps should be detailed and follow a specific order.

Action Items

The action items are the specific, small tasks that make up the action plan steps. The action items help you execute your action plan steps.

Action Plan Timeline

An action plan timeline is the time allocation meant for each of the action plan steps. This will help to know the required duration of the whole project, each step with its start and end dates.

Action Plan Resources

These include any item that will be required to execute the action plan at each step. Action plan resources can include employees, materials, equipment, and action plan software, among other things. 

Action Plan Matrix

An action plan matrix is a tool that can be used to represent your action plan document, giving you all the details of the plan in just one glance. You can get samples of the action priority matrix here .

Action Plan Report

At the execution stage, you need to track the progress of your project with the anticipated progress. Having the preplanned parameters side by side with the actual ones will help you make modifications where necessary. 


You should assign tasks to your team members and communicate with them so that everyone knows the tasks they’re saddled with. 

A process documentation tool like SweetProcess will help you assign tasks to your team members with all the needed details while also tracking the progress of the tasks. 

Action plans have different types depending on the purpose each is meant to serve. They, however, follow a similar pattern, albeit with different goals. The three types of action plans we’ll highlight here are business, project, and personal action plans. 

Business Action Plan

A business action plan is meant to set goals and assign tasks when you want to start a business or execute a new plan in an existing business. It outlines the vision for the business or new goal and the actions needed to bring it to life.

Project Action Plan

A project action plan is tailored toward individual and specific projects within an organization. This project might be a subdivision of a major strategy being executed by a company. An important component of a project action plan is the deliverable that is expected to satisfy the objective of such an action plan.

Personal Action Plan

A personal action plan may not be as complex as other types of action plans. The components are not always complex because they are mostly tasks you need to carry out yourself. Goals in a personal action plan can be as big as changing careers and as small as drinking enough water daily. The goal will determine what the action steps and other components will look like.  

Creating an effective action plan is not the end of it—it is just the beginning. When it is time to act on implementing the plan, here are some of the best practices that guarantee the success of the action plan. 

Involve your team

From the planning stage to the implementation stage, working on your action plan shouldn’t be a one-person show. If you plan with all your team members, it helps to ensure that everyone will be on the same page. Understanding the relevance of each assignment will motivate everyone so they don’t fall short in their duties. 

Set SMART goals

It’s important that you set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Setting ambiguous goals will take you nowhere because you won’t be able to define your success metrics. 

Use task management software

An action plan document written with pen and paper may die right on the spot. You should consider adopting task management software that will document your processes, procedures, and templates and allow you to assign tasks and monitor and collaborate with your team members. Whether you manage a physical or virtual team, having everything in one place will prevent tasks from falling through the cracks and ensure prompt implementation of the action plan.

Check out SweetProcess for free and use all the features without hand-holding.

Create an action plan template

When you have a lot of projects to execute, it’s helpful to have an action plan template that works best for your team. When you implement an action plan, it is easy to tweak the plan during implementation until you have a perfect one that works for you. This will provide the best template for your team and future projects. 

Set up real-time alerts and assign dependencies

Each action step and item is expected to have a duration. To ensure that your action plan is executed within the allotted timeline, you should set reminders to know when each task completion is due. SweetProcess automatically does this for you by notifying all concerned team members of the progress and completion of each individual task.

Check action items off as you complete them

Checking off each action item on completion will help you know what is done and what is left in the action plan implementation.

Discuss late or pending tasks

Always keep in touch with your team members to encourage everyone to complete the assigned tasks within the time allocated. You should also not overlook late or pending tasks, rather communicate about them to know when they genuinely feel stuck so you can help.

The goal of your action plan will mostly determine the best template to use. Even though some of the action plan templates will have a similar pattern, you can check out which one best fits your project and swipe it right here for free. 

Blank Action Plan Template

The blank action plan template outlines a series of stages or activities that must be done to complete the work or task correctly. It helps you keep track of specific task accomplishments and the resources and equipment needed to execute the action. 

Click here to download the Blank Action Plan Template

Sales Action Plan Template

A sales action plan template outlines what you’ll do to meet your sales objectives with an emphasis on the transactions and relationships you can build with clients.

The major components of the sales action plan template are:

  • Your revenue target
  • Who your top customer segments are
  • How to structure your teams for success 

Click here to download the Sales Action Plan Template

Maintenance Action Plan Template

A maintenance action plan template is a document that outlines what must be done to keep assets in a facility in good working order. The information in the template will guide you on how to use each asset to its full potential. You can keep track of maintenance schedules using the estimated time column, and check and record accountability when the task is complete.

Click here to download the Maintenance Action Plan Template

Startup Action Plan Template

This startup business plan template includes the essential elements you’ll need to pitch investors and stakeholders on your business idea and strategy. 

An executive summary, a financial overview, a marketing plan, specifics on product or service offerings, and more are all included in the template.

Click here to download the Startup Action Plan Template

Personal Development Action Plan Template

The personal development action plan template provides you with an assessment for personal growth. It is presented in the context of professional goals, education, relationships, or self-improvement. This is usually based on awareness, values, reflection, goal setting, and planning.

Click here to download the Personal Development Action Plan Template

Simple Action Plan Template

The simple action plan template allows you to keep track of the tasks that must be accomplished daily to achieve a larger goal. You can document your objectives, task list, success criteria, timeframe, and available resources. Each page has a label where you may enter information about your firm in addition to tables and images.

Click here to download the Simple Action Plan Template

Even though strategic plans and action plans are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same. 

Think of your strategic plan as your destination and your action plan as the details on how you plan to get there. 

Simply put, a strategic plan is meant to determine what we intend to do over a specific period, considering our main goals, resources, opportunities, challenges, and limitations.

The action plan refers to the specific steps to be taken to achieve this strategic plan. It comes with outlined objectives, timelines, assigning roles, and identifying the needed resources. 

An action plan refers to the scheduled proposition for implementing required activities to achieve a desired goal. An implementation plan, on the other hand, comes with a broader view. It covers the identification of required resources, developing assumptions, forecasting short and long-term outcomes, budgeting, allocating responsibilities, and scheduling of activities in a bid to achieve the desired objectives.

An action plan is usually a subset of a project plan. It describes how to accomplish a particular objective within the bigger project. The project plan outlines everything about the whole project, from its initiation to its completion. It includes objectives, scope, budget, timelines, risks, and stakeholders.

An action plan breaks down a specific goal into tasks, allocates resources, and sets deadlines and priorities, while a to-do list is only a list of things that need to be done in no particular order and without regard to the needed resources and timelines.

If you’re now looking to make and implement an action plan, you’ll be more concerned about executing, monitoring, and reporting throughout the project execution. SweetProcess is a tool that lets you achieve these and many more, ensuring you have everything in one place. 

This SOP documentation and management tool helps you realize your goals with great built-in features and intuitive interface. Features such as procedure standardization, process documentation , policy creation, and artificial intelligence assistance will help you set the pace for your action plan. While implementing your action plan, you will be able to tap from features like task assigning, progress tracking, team collaboration, and version histories. 

SweetProcess is a top pick among other similar tools because of its intuitiveness and favorable pricing, which helps you save time and cost. 

Without a credit card or any technical knowledge, you can use all the features in SweetProcess for 14 days for FREE .

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How to: Action plan template and instructions

Last updated

21 December 2023

Reviewed by

Mary Mikhail

An action plan is a framework for achieving a goal. In many cases, you must complete complex tasks to get closer to the objective. Action plans make it easier to focus, remember details, and stay on top of deadlines.

Creating an action plan doesn't just help you stay on track. It can become a template for achieving other goals and staying organized. 

Learning how to write an action plan with the appropriate level of detail allows you to get things done while building up to your goal. Let’s get into the guide, including an action plan template. 

  • What is an action plan?

An action plan is a documented collection of steps needed to achieve a certain goal. 

Putting your plan into writing divides a complex strategy into smaller achievable parts. This helps you simplify the journey, identify the necessary resources, and set reasonable deadlines.

Types of action plans include:

Business action plan

Sales action plan

Project action plan

Personal action plan

Educational action plan

Regardless of how large or small your objectives are, you can benefit from a detailed plan that helps you meet them.

  • What is the purpose of an action plan?

Creating an action plan can streamline your focus to the right activities at the right time. 

If you've achieved similar goals without a plan, you’ll notice how a roadmap can improve your tactics and speed up the process.

Key benefits of a well-designed action plan include:

Keeping the focus

Clearly defining your goals keeps your team on the same page throughout the process.

Structured approach

Breaking complex goals into manageable tasks makes the process more organized and easier to follow.


An action plan helps you prioritize tasks based on their importance and urgency. 

You can easily identify critical elements and allocate resources accordingly, ensuring you direct efforts toward the most impactful activities.


An action plan assigns responsibilities and establishes accountability for each listed task. 

Knowing who’s responsible for completing specific tasks promotes a sense of ownership and improves outcomes.

Resource allocation

Your action plan is the blueprint that makes sure the necessary tools, materials, or personnel are available to support its successful execution.

Progress tracking

A framework for monitoring progress toward the goal allows you to identify obstacles and take corrective actions as needed. Regular monitoring ensures the plan stays on course.

Besides helping you achieve the set goals, the plan is a collaboration tool. It allows all stakeholders to clearly understand the goals, tasks, timelines, and responsibilities.

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  • How to write an action plan

While action plans differ for each project, the basics of a successful plan are the same.

Whether you’re building a personal, business, or project plan, you need to follow the same general format:

Make your goal SMART

If you’re making an action plan, you already have a goal. However, it may not be detailed enough to build a robust framework. 

Creating a SMART goal lays the foundation for successful planning:

S pecific: the goal should be highly specific and narrow in focus

M easurable: the goal and progress should be measurable by specific metrics

A chievable: the goal should be reasonable enough for you to be able to achieve it

R elevant: the goal should align with your values and long-term goals

T ime-Bound: the goal should contain a reasonable deadline

Example : Your goal is to increase the number of website visits.

The SMART version: "Increase website traffic by 10% by March 1." 

Example : Your goal is to read more books.

The SMART version: "Read five books by the end of the year."

Identify tasks

You have to break a large goal down into manageable tasks. The next step is to list these tasks and actions that can help you achieve the goal step-by-step. 

Besides breaking the big task down, you have to prioritize your tasks. Otherwise, you could face problems with execution, especially if a large team is involved.

Just like the goal, each task must be as specific as possible. Vagueness leads to misunderstandings and misalignment with the primary goal.

Example : Your goal is to "increase website traffic by 10% by March 1." 

Your list of actions may look like this:

Conduct a technical SEO assessment and fix errors

Increase the number of blog posts to seven per week

Launch a new PPC campaign

Create an active YouTube channel

Start working with an influencer

These smaller tasks make the goal look less overwhelming and allow you to stay on track.

Create a timeline

Next, you need to create a timeline for the project based on the deadline you identified when setting a SMART goal. 

Determine the start and end date for each task you listed in the previous step.

Set realistic deadlines, considering the complexity and duration of each task. Be mindful of any time constraints related to the market, economy, and your internal team's needs.

Rely on historical data when creating a timeline. If you couldn’t do similar tasks quickly in the past, use this as your guide. 

Just like goals, deadlines should be achievable.

Example : "Complete the technical SEO assessment in one week and fix errors within two weeks."

Allocate resources

Once you know exactly how to achieve your goal, identify the resources required for your plan. 

They can include:

Team members: If this is a business project, assign roles to your team members and outline their responsibilities.

Third parties : You may need to outsource some tasks, so determine which partners can help you.

Equipment: This includes the software, tools, and instruments you need to complete the outlined tasks.

Example : You’re working on the website traffic goal. You may have to assign responsibilities to your marketing team, outsource SEO to a digital marketing agency, and invest in digital marketing tools.

At this point, you have sufficient information to evaluate the budget necessary for achieving your goal. You may have to adjust your tasks, timeline, and resources accordingly.  

Monitor the progress

While executing an action plan, you need to follow the progress closely. 

Since no action plan is set in stone, there’s always room for adjustment. You may have to change task priorities or adjust the budget for some components. In rare cases, you may have to push back the deadline.

To ensure everything’s going to plan, you’ll need to evaluate the progress according to your action plan. That means relying on the metrics you identified when creating your SMART goal and the milestones you listed when setting a timeline.  

  • Why do action plans fail?

Even the most well-written action plan could fail. Some of the most common challenges that affect the success of action plans include:

Lack of accountability and engagement

When people responsible for executing the plan aren't sufficiently engaged, they may not follow it enthusiastically. The plan may even add frustration, leading to burnout.

Ensuring your team understands the plan's importance and their responsibilities keeps the project moving in the right direction. 

If people are spread too thin, consider involving more team members to distribute the workload. Maintaining good morale and inspiring a sense of ownership drives engagement and support of the plan.

Poor communication

Communication between team members and other stakeholders requires special attention. 

If many people are involved, consider making communication methods and tools a part of your action plan.

Share the plan with everyone involved and ensure the latest version is always accessible. Your goal is to keep everyone on the same page throughout the entire process, not just at the start.  

No progress reports

Moving along the set timeline and achieving milestones isn't sufficient to ensure the success of your action plan. Sharing regular updates is an essential part of action plan implementation.  

Measuring progress and creating relevant reports ensures you can meet the deadline. It also shows your team members their impact on the project, increasing their engagement.

  • How to implement an action plan

By itself, an action plan contains everything your team needs to achieve success. Once in place, you need to manage the plan on an ongoing basis to make sure everyone stays on track.


Action plan implementation requires seamless communication between team members and other stakeholders. 

Online meetings and asynchronous communication tools are key to ensuring everyone understands the details. It’s also vital to maintain availability to answer questions that may arise.

The main element to communicate to everyone involved is the "why" of the plan. Everyone responsible for executing it must understand how their actions contribute to the plan's success and how it adds to the company's bottom line.

Make sure to recognize and celebrate all achievements related to the action plan. 

Decide beforehand which tasks’ completion warrants recognition and rewards for your team members. This can boost morale, motivate the team , and maintain enthusiasm throughout the project. 

Sharing which actions you’ll reward before the project starts can increase productivity .

You'll likely face some obstacles once you begin implementing the action plan. What looks great on paper may be completely different in reality. This is why action plans are flexible.

Making adjustments is an integral part of a plan’s implementation. To ensure these changes are successful, seek feedback from the project participants. 

Regularly discussing the action plan with your team can provide valuable insight into making effective corrections. At the same time, it keeps the team in the loop and promotes engagement.

  • Action plan template

This simple action plan template can help you create a successful plan regardless of your goal.

Clearly define the goal or objective you want to achieve

Task 1: Description of the task

Responsible: Person/team responsible for completing the task

Deadline: Date by which they should complete the task

Task 2: Description of the task etc.

Start date: Date when you’ll initiate the action plan

End date: Date when you expect to complete the action plan

Resource allocation:

Budget: Allocated budget for the action plan

Personnel: List of team members or departments involved

Equipment/technology: Any specific equipment or technology needed

Communication plan:

Stakeholders: List of relevant stakeholders to inform

Communication channels: Preferred channels for communication

Frequency: How often you’ll share updates or progress reports

Monitoring and evaluation:

Progress tracking: Method or tool to track progress

Review dates: Scheduled dates to review progress and make adjustments

Evaluation criteria: Metrics or criteria to assess the effectiveness of the action plan

The more details you add to the plan, the easier it will be to implement. The goal is to make the action plan transparent for everyone involved.

  • Creating an effective action plan

An effective action plan is the foundation of any project. It can provide much-needed structure to your business operations and contribute to a favorable outcome. 

Ensuring the right goal format, outlining the tasks, and setting up a timeline can streamline your efforts. This makes it easier to remain focused on your goals. 

With an action plan, even the toughest objectives become easier to accomplish.

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How To Write A Plan Of Action (With Examples)

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Summary. An action plan is a plan that allows you to achieve your goals. To write an action plan you should first specify a SMART goal and then strategize a list of tasks leading up to that goal. You should also schedule a timeline to reach your goal and establish milestones through out that timeline. Finally you should track your progress.

It’s an inherent human quality to dream of success. Dreaming is the easy part, but attaining it is much more complicated. It requires vision, goal-setting, and most importantly, a detailed action plan to meet your objectives.

Key Takeaways:

An action plan breaks a complex long term goal down into achievable pieces. It also sets a timeline, which allows you to track your progress.

Action plans can be helpful for managing large projects with multiple goals, or as a way to track personal progress.

There are several different planning techniques that are effective, such as the SMART system and SCHEMES.

how to write action plan for business

What Is an Action Plan?

How to write an action plan, template for action plan, example of an action plan, why an action plan is useful, who needs an action plan, action plan schemes, action plan faq, final thoughts.

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Setting a specific goal illuminates where you want to end up. An action plan lays out a way to achieve that outcome.

A detailed plan for making goals reality provides necessary guidelines for what to do next, milestones to reach, and defines ultimate success . This makes it easier to know how far you’ve come and what’s left to do before you reach a goal.

Formulating an action plan in the early stages of strategic planning is essential. It establishes the steps to take that lead towards completion. This is a crucial practice for any type of project, whether it be professional or personal , because it provides details for how to proceed.

Specify a SMART goal . The first step to writing an action plan is to decide on a concrete goal that adheres to SMART standards. This is a framework that helps align fanciful ideas of a goal to become a realistic objective.

The letters of the SMART framework stand for:

Specific. A good goal needs to be detailed and clear. While a broad goal, such as making more money, seems like the way to go, there’s too much room for straying and not enough direction.

Measurable. The goal that you choose to pursue should be quantifiable. Along the way, this allows you to track your progress and growth . For instance, if your goal is to sell more tickets to a concert, state how many you want to sell exactly.

Attainable. Never set a goal that’s too outlandish to accomplish either in your timeframe or at your skill level. While being ambitious is good quality, it needs to be met in equal part with realism. Evaluate your circumstance and spend time on an attainable goal .

Relevant. SMART goals should be relevant to the overall outcome you’re trying to achieve. In a professional setting, make sure your objectives are relevant to your long-term career plans – vice versa for personal goals.

Timeframe . The final aspect of a SMART goal is specifying a timeframe that you’ll complete the end goal. Stating a timeline keeps your mind focused on finishing goals by the deadline.

Strategize a list of tasks leading up to the goal. Once a SMART goal has been established, start strategizing the actions you’ll take to work towards it. The best way to accomplish this is by creating a list of these tasks.

Schedule a timeline. Having a time-frame in mind is a qualifier for whether a goal is up to SMART standards, and it’s also a requirement for writing an action plan. A timeline should be a series of deadlines, in addition to the final date that you aim to achieve the end goal.

Establish milestones. Define what the milestones of the project are during the writing phase of an action plan. Incorporating milestones into the timeline of an action plan supports motivation and gives you a good idea of where you stand.

Track progress and assess success. After writing a detailed action plan, the final aspect is following through with the map to success you’ve outlined. The effort you put into planning is validated by completing the work you’ve strategized. Begin working on your scheduled plan immediately — or be sure to set a start date.

Track your progress throughout the journey of working towards your goal. This can be done by scheduling a team meeting at work or just doing some self-reflection by yourself for personal goals. If anything needs to be tweaked or isn’t going according to plan, progress tracking is when you’ll be made aware of it.

The Issue At Hand Is: The End SMART Goal Is:

Tasks Leading Up To End Goal Who is Handling this Task? Task Deadline Needed Resources For Completion Progress Updates The Result
What tasks will you need to do leading up to the end goal? (From earliest to latest) Who is responsible for completing this task? What is the date you will complete this task by? Is there anything you will need to complete this task properly? Use this section to update your progress on each task Describe the result of the task. Was it accomplished, when, and were there any obstacles?
The Issue At Hand Is: Lacking servers at a restaurant. The End Goal Is: To increase restaurant staff by 3 experienced employees in the next month. Tasks Leading Up To End Goal Who is Handling this Task? Task Timeline Needed Resources For Completion Progress Updates The Result Post a detailed open job posting online to at least three career websites. Include details regarding the restaurant background, position expectations, and requirements for the role. The Restaurant Owner December 28, 2021 A computer Internet connection Information about the position and restaurant A write-up of the job description was completed (12/21/2021) Five free career websites were found to post the job opening (12/23/2021) The position opening was posted on the career websites (12/28/2021) The job opening description was approved and the posting went live on 12/28/2021 Run the applications received from the open job posting through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Go through the resumes of the remaining candidate pool. Reach out to candidates with the most potential to come in for an interview. The Restaurant Manager January 4, 2022 A computer Access to Applicant Tracking System Software (ATS) 25 applications for the job were received (12/31/2020) The applications were run through the applicant tracking system (1/2/2022) 14 applications passed the ATS (1/2/2022) 6 applicants showed potential and were called to come in for an interview (1/4/2022) After receiving many applications, six promising applicants were chosen to come in for an interview. Schedule an interview with the potential hires. Ask a series of approved and relevant questions to assess the candidate’s abilities to succeed in the role. Take notes about particularly remarkable interviewees. The Restaurant Manager January 15, 2022 A place to conduct the interview Pen and paper Relevant interview questions to ask The six candidates with potential were scheduled at various times to come in for an interview (1/6/2022) The first three interviews were all completed. Two candidates seemed to be great candidates for hire (1/11/2022) The last three interviews were completed. One of the applicants never showed up and the other didn’t have enough experience. The final applicant was perfect for the job (1/15/2022) Six candidates were interviewed for the server positions at the restaurant, and three seemed to be a good fit. Gather a list of the strongest interviewees and offer them the job. Discuss the paperwork they will need to begin, their salary requirements, and when they can start. Hire at least three new restaurant staff members. The Restaurant Manager January 22, 2022 Contact information for applicants Necessary hiring paperwork The information about the three chosen candidates was gathered (1/17/2022) The candidates were all called to be offered the position and give more detailed information. All three of the candidates accepted the position. (1/21/2022) Each newly hired employee was scheduled to begin their first training shift on February 25th (1/22/2022) All three applicants who were offered the position accepted. They are scheduled to begin training on February 25th, 2021.

Identifies how far you have to go. A clear picture of how far you have left to go before you reach your goal is a strong case for writing an action plan. It shows you have much work there’s still left to do and what exactly it entails. Having this timeline is especially helpful for accomplishing long-term goals .

Provides direction. Completing a goal is much tougher when the project lacks an objective . An action plan points you in the right direction and keeps you on track.

Strengthens motivation . One of the biggest reasons for falling short of meeting a goal is failing motivation. It takes a lot of personal drive to continue towards a goal that years in the making. A written action plan provides a cushion of motivation when the hurdles seem insurmountable. It’s the reminder that there’s an end in sight and of what exactly you’re trying to achieve.

Establishes milestones. An action plan spells out the steps you need to complete to reach a goal. This can also aid with motivation, as breaking it down into more readily achievable pieces makes you seem like you’re making progress. It also shows you how much closer you are to your ultimate goal.

Action plans can be useful for anyone’s personal or professional life in a wide variety of situations. While the high-level executive plan of action might look a lot different than your entry-level worker’s, the ultimate goal of both is the same: ensuring that daily tasks are building toward a specific goal.

The only real difference between action plans at different levels of a company is scope. A manager needs to plan achievable goals for their employees by setting up a system for measuring results, giving and receiving feedback, budgeting in a smart way, and generally promoting an atmosphere where work can be done efficiently and effectively.

An entry-level employee, on the other hand, might develop a plan of action after meeting with a supervisor . By making sure to write down exactly what the larger business goals are while they’re fresh in your mind, you’ll have a much easier time setting and achieving short term goals that align wtih broader corporate interests.

A good way to check that your plan of action is comprehensive and you’ve got all your bases covered is to run it by SCHEMES, which is an acronym that stands for:

Not every action plan has to consider all of these elements. Some small-scale projects will only require you to consider helpers and expertise, for example.

SCHEMES can help make sure that you haven’t missed anything important while planning your big goal. After all, it would be pretty disappointing to have your vision fall of the rails because you run out of cash or your lack of expert knowledge is creating a bottleneck in production.

What are the parts of an action plan?

The parts of an action plan should include the “who,” “what,” and “when.” Your who should be who will be involved in the plan. You should include responsibilities of the individuals involved in this plan. The “what” should be the steps in the plan and what you want to accomplish. The “when” will be a timeline of when you want to achieve this goal.

Do you need an action plan to be successful?

No, you do not need an action plan to be successful, but they can be an effective way to help you be successful. Action plans are useful when you want to identify how far you have to go and give you a clear picture of your goal. They can also provide you direction to the necessary steps in completing the goal.

What is a written plan of action?

A written plan of action is a plan that indicated what tasks need to get done, the timeline that it needs to get done, and who will be responsible for the tasks. A written plan of action will lay out a plan to achieve your goals that you have set either for yourself or for your team

An action plan is your ticket to a much less stressful project. By setting achievable goals early on, you not only help your time management but also your mindset. It’s much better to start a project off with a plan for achieving it than some vague resolutions or a mission statement without an equally compelling vision for the process.

Writing an action plan doesn’t need to be a daunting task. For how much time it will save you in the long run, it’s worth your while to develop a plan of action today.

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Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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How to Determine Advertising Objectives

What is the difference between goals & targets in business, the importance of setting business objectives.

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Every business owner has dreams about where he wants to take his business. But until these dreams are converted into a strategic plan with goals and objectives, they will probably not become a reality.

Developing a business action plan is the way to turn the owner's ambitions into reality, and finally, into more money in his bank account.

An effective business plan starts with setting up goals using the SMART outline. Goals created with a SMART framework have the following characteristics:

  • Specific: Let's suppose you have a store selling roller skates. Setting a goal to "increase revenues" is vague and not specific. A better goal would be to "increase sales of outdoor skates by 12 percent."
  • Measurable: Goals must have a way to report a measurable number. For example, the goal to increase sales could be tracked with weekly sales reports.
  • Attainable: Employees have to be convinced and believe that the goals are attainable. If the employees do not think that they can reach the goals, they will not even try. Your people may not believe that they can increase sales by 25 percent but increasing sales by 12 percent seems doable.
  • Relevant: Goals must be created that conform with the business model and the demographics of the customers. It would not make sense to set a goal to sell refrigerators if your main business is selling surf boards.
  • Timely: Goals must have deadlines. Increasing sales of outdoor skates by 12 percent in the next six months is specific and timely.

The next step is to convert the goal to "increase sales of outdoor skates by 12 percent in the next six months" into an action plan.

How to Achieve the Goal

Each goal must have an outline for the process necessary to achieve the goal. The first objective is to increase the number of prospective buyers coming in the store.

In the case of selling more outdoor skates, one step may be to do more advertising in print and on television about the wide choice of outdoor skates that the store has in stock. Another step could be to email the store's list of customers about an upcoming sale on outdoor skates.

Which Resources Are Needed

If the company will use advertising to drive more traffic into the store, how much will it cost? How much money will be needed for the total campaign? Effective advertising requires repeating an ad several times before it has the desired effect on the consumer. All of this costs money.

The action plan should define the amount of money needed, the number of people required and any physical assets that will be necessary.

Who Is Responsible

To achieve a goal, someone must be held accountable. It could be more than one person or even a department. In any case, the employees must know what their goal is and when it should be attained.

In the case of increasing sales of outdoor skates, the sales staff on the floor must have their own individual sales goals. They also must have the training in sales techniques and product knowledge to effectively perform their jobs.

Track the Progress

Set up a procedure to receive regular reports on the progress toward achieving the goal. If it appears that the company is not on the required pace to meet their goal, then adjustments can be made to get back on track.

Business action plans are the vehicles that transform dreams into reality. Goals that are created with the SMART method and combined with employee accountability and tracking have the highest likelihood of being achieved.

  • Iowa State University: Vision and Mission Statements: A Vision of Where You Want to Go and How to Get There
  • Capital One: Guide For Creating a Start-Up Action Plan
  • Augsburg University: Creating an Action Plan
  • Focus on short term goals that you want to achieve this year and rewrite the business action plan next year.

James Woodruff has been a management consultant to more than 1,000 small businesses. As a senior management consultant and owner, he used his technical expertise to conduct an analysis of a company's operational, financial and business management issues. James has been writing business and finance related topics for work.chron, bizfluent.com, smallbusiness.chron.com and e-commerce websites since 2007. He graduated from Georgia Tech with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and received an MBA from Columbia University.

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Project Management

Turning Desires Into Reality: How to Write an Action Plan, With Examples


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Turning Desires Into Reality: How to Write an Action Plan, With Examples

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It’s so easy to lapse into a daydream over all the things we’d like to be doing in our life. Maybe on a walk with the dog around the block, you start to fantasize about the new career you want to break into, the second home you want to purchase or the dream vacation you hope to take someday. And on the way, you see your neighbors achieving so much. They’re buying new cars, expanding their homes, and growing lush green gardens.

It can feel like salt in the wounds when you finish the loop and return to your own life that looks pretty much the same as it did a decade ago: the same income, the same job, the same beat up car. It’s so common to put forth an honest effort yet feel as though life is just going in circles.

If you’re wishing to make a big change or pursue goals, the good news is that all these dreams are not far away castles in the clouds. Achieving goals and pursuing dreams is about getting practical and establishing systems. It’s about following an action plan.

Whether our goals are career or health related, or something else entirely, a simple practical approach is key to getting there. Let’s look at the six essential steps of an action plan, and then some examples for achieving goals in all areas of our lives.

The 6 Steps in Every Action Plan

The 6 Steps in Every Action Plan

An action plan is simple and intuitive. The problem for many is that they do not make the effort to put one into place. Rather than working towards goals, they instead spiral into patterns of procrastination or stagnation. And so simply following a plan places you a cut above the rest. The following six steps cover the essentials to any action plan.

Step 1: Name the Goal

The first step in an action plan is to identify and transcribe the real goal. This may sound so basic, yet it’s so often the case that a goal is never clarified or broken down into specifics.

For example, maybe someone sets out with a goal to lose weight. When she really digs down into her motivations, however, she discovers that her actual objective is to develop an active lifestyle that includes recreational activities like biking and skiing. This is a very different goal than simply reducing the number on the scale. While weight loss may be fundamental to achieving this true goal, it certainly isn’t the only criteria.

Once the true goal is identified, the next step is to outline some parameters around it. This makes it possible to understand whether or not the goal has truly been achieved. A goal to “lose weight,” for example, is so vague that it’s impossible to determine whether or not it’s been attained. The SMART formula is effective at this stage . This is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. A goal that fulfills these five criteria is both meaningful and measurable.

A final component to this first step is to transcribe the goal and place it in a visible location, such as a bulletin board or screen saver. This not only crystalizes the objective, but it also instills the goal into the subconscious. Your energy centers around the goal, and you attract those circumstances and persons necessary to achieve it.

Step 2: List Tasks & Obstructions

Once the goal has been sufficiently identified, the next step is to list all of the tasks needed to achieve the goal. These tasks cannot be general, but rather must be specific and measurable. Take the goal of losing weight. The task of “exercise regularly” is too vague, and can be revised to something more specific such as “walk for 30 minutes every day.”

This is also the point at which to identify obstructions alongside corresponding solutions. Mental block is a common obstruction to achieving a goal. When a goal requires doing something for the first time, fear of the unknown can cause people to stop dead in their tracks. Obstructions also can be budget or skill related. If someone doesn’t have the proper skills or sufficient funds, then the goal is impossible. And so it’s necessary to identify these obstructions and then come up with creative solutions. This could mean receiving training in a new skill, or engaging in exercises to get unstuck .

Step 3: Prioritize the Action List

The first draft of the task list usually covers an enormous number of tasks. It’s often the case, however, that only a few of these activities are critical to achieving the goal. As an action plan seeks to complete a goal as fluidly and efficiently as possible, it eliminates busywork and accentuates those tasks that advance you toward the finish line.

One method for ferreting out critical tasks is to answer the question, “If I could just complete one task, which one would bring me closest to my goal?” Once this task is identified, ask the question again of the remaining tasks, until 20% of the tasks have been singled out. This is the essence of the 80/20 rule, or Pareto Principle , which says that 20% of the tasks drive 80% of the results.

While this planning can be time consuming, in the long run it saves time. It means that every task is meaningful and resources are utilized wisely.

Step 4: Assign Work Sensibly

In the interest of saving money, it’s tempting to try and do everything yourself. But this may not be the best use of resources. Sometimes outsourcing makes more sense. When work is delegated with precision, it means that the person with the most suitable skill set is assigned to a task. It ensures quality, and saves time and other resources in the long run.

Step 5: Set a Deadline

Once the critical tasks are known, it’s possible to sketch out a realistic time frame. A deadline ensures that critical tasks are completed and that the workflow progresses steadily. It creates momentum and drive. If you don’t meet the deadline, however, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It’s simply an indication that the initial estimates were off, and that readjustments are necessary.

Step 6: Reflect & Adjust

Most every action plan requires adjustments as things proceed closer to the goal. As new information is gathered, it may become apparent that a pivot is necessary. Through periodic reflections, it’s possible to make a proper evaluation and adjustment of either the budget, task list, or timeline.

And this summarizes the six essential steps of an action plan. This methodical approach means all energy and resources are prudently dedicated toward achieving the goal. Now let’s look at some examples of what an action plan might look like in various areas of our lives.

Business Development

Example 1: Business Development

For this example, let’s consider a service business that aspires to rebrand itself in order to attract a higher-income clientele and so increase its overall revenue.

This first step is to define the goal with precision. Rather than state the goal as something like, “Find clients in a higher income bracket,” a SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound. This could be something like, “Re-brand coaching business over the next six months with the aim to attract clientele who earn $100K+ a year. Within 18 months, these clientele will constitute a majority in the business, and the overall yearly revenue will have increased by 30% above the current revenue.”

This next step is to identify each and every specific task necessary to achieve the goal, and would include things like refresh copy, update photos and select brand colors and fonts.

These tasks need to be specific and measurable. For example, market research and marketing are central toward achieving this goal. However, “create a marketing plan” is far too vague. A better task would be, “select three social media platforms for building and propagating the brand.”

This is also the stage for identifying obstructions and exploring solutions. Perhaps the business owner is not a skilled photographer, or has budget constraints. One way to get around these constraints is to offer free coaching services to a local photographer in exchange for his or her skills.

This stage means parsing through the task list and identifying what actions are really going to draw in and keep the target clientele. It’s quite possible that things like font, logo and brand colors would fall further down on this task list. While market research; digging down to understand what the target clientele really wants and then drafting a marketing plan that attracts them; would certainly be first and foremost.

Again, few of us have a skill set that mirrors a Swiss army knife. As much as we’d like to do it all ourselves, we don’t have the time or the talent to achieve everything on the task list on our own. This step, then, means delegating work with prudence. What other resources might be utilized in order to achieve the goal within the given time and budget constraints? This might mean hiring a virtual assistant to run social media and a copywriter to re-refresh website copy.

With the critical tasks identified, it’s time to establish realistic yet firm timelines. Without a deadline, a goal like rebranding could drag on forever. Some key milestones might include completing market research, launching the new website and implementing the marketing plan.

Step 6: Reflect and Adjust

Once the action plan is underway, plenty of adjustments will be called for. Perhaps the marketing plan isn’t connecting to the target audience. It may be necessary to return to the drawing table, looking carefully at statistics and market research, then tweak the plan going forward.

And this summarizes what a rebranding action plan might look like. Let’s move onto an action plan for a personal health goal.

Personal Health

Example 2: Personal Health

For this next example, let’s consider a goal to improve overall health and fitness.

The first step is to dig down and identify the true objectives, then outline the goal with precision. In this instance, let’s say the individual aims to improve his health in order to increase his lifespan and his ability to participate in lifetime sports such as skiing and tennis. The objective, then, is to both lose weight, improve diet, and strengthen core muscles. A SMART goal might be stated as, “Over the next twelve months, lose twenty pounds, eliminate carbs from my diet while increasing fruit and fiber, and visit the gym four times a week.”

This next step is to list all of the steps necessary to achieve the goal. Many of these tasks are fairly straightforward, such as sign up for a gym membership, purchase gym clothes, outline healthy meal plans and research healthy recipes.

A key component at this stage is also to identify obstructions and solutions. Perhaps a busy work schedule makes regular exercise difficult. A solution might be to start the workday thirty minutes later a few times a week in order to fit in a morning workout. If the obstruction is diet related, then maybe joining a weekly group such as Weight Watchers is the answer to keeping on track.

This stage is about looking over the task list and answering the question, “If I could only select one of these tasks, which one would be most critical toward achieving the goal?” over and over again until the top 20% of the tasks have been identified. Perhaps the most important tasks are getting to the gym and eating healthy meals, while purchasing the perfect pair of sneakers drops to the wayside.

Naturally with a fitness goal, much of the work must be completed by the individual and cannot be delegated. However, if the goal is a team effort, say between spouses, then perhaps one individual is more suited to completing some of the tasks than another. Maybe one person prepares healthy meals, or the two juggle workloads so as to allow each other time to visit the gym.

Ideally, a long-term goal is broken down into short bursts of work. This allows for focus and also the space to pivot and reflect. For this example, the goal of losing twenty pounds over a year might be broken down into losing five pounds every three months.

The final step is to pause regularly to assess. After six weeks of implementing the action plan, perhaps the weight loss isn’t happening, or the diet plan is too difficult. Staying on track may require taking a new approach.

Professional Development

Example 3: Professional Development

In this final example, let’s consider the goal of a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) to break away from a corporate position and establish an independent practice.

A SMART way to state this goal is, “Transition into independent employment as a CFP over the next nine months, with the objective to regain my current income level within two years.”

Some of the tasks toward working independently as a CFP would include acquiring necessary licensing, finding a new office, and researching ways to market and solicit business. Purchasing office equipment would also be on order, as well as possibly hiring a VA or bookkeeper. One clear obstruction to reaching this goal would be regulations around soliciting business from current clients.

At this point the 80/20 rule comes into play. What tasks are the most important? Which can be deferred? Licensing and marketing would be critical, while hiring additional help might not be necessary right away.

Once the critical tasks are outlined, the next step is to delegate. Perhaps the clerical work could be outsourced to a VA.

With the critical tasks laid out, this step determines milestones. Is nine months a reasonable target date?

And the final step is to reflect periodically. Is the marketing plan attracting clients? If not, perhaps a new approach is necessary.

We have dreams and aspirations in all areas of our life. Oftentimes, a life milestone such as a 40th birthday or the birth of a child triggers us to set out to tackle life goals.

However, unless goals are approached methodically, they often can be out of reach. They can seem overwhelming, and you may not attempt them at all.

With an action plan, the impossible becomes attainable. An action plan makes goals practical and reachable. This plan not only specifies the true goal, it also charts a realistic path toward getting there.

What is one goal you’d like to reach over the next twelve months?

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How to structure a small business action plan (excel templates).

how to write action plan for business

If you run a small business, I suspect you’re forever alert to a better way to juggle the thousand-and-one tasks that make up your work week. And there’s no shortcut here. As every scenario is unique, you need to investigate which tools, hacks, or frameworks work best for you. For most of us, this means looking at tools like Evernote, Notion, Getting Things Done and other frameworks. While they all have merit, their value depends on your own specific use case. What works for one person, may not work for another. 

So, with this in mind, I decided to re-examine how I run my business at a granular level. Right down to the ‘nitty gritty’. Part of this is creating atomic action plans.

To get things started, let’s refresh our memory on how to setup an action plan for your business. In the next set of articles, I’ll show you how to interleave ‘smart notes’ and the protocols we use in the Klariti framework.

While it does take a little time to setup, it offers considerable long-term rewards.

Why you need an Action Plan template?

If you want to create an action plan for your business, I recommend that you download the following sample guidelines ?

You can use these guidelines to create a MS Word template to convert your business goals, plans, and ideas into an effective Action Plan.

Remember, the best way to write these documents is to make it simple and easy for others to use, especially for marketing activities .

5 Year Action Plan

What is an Action Plan?

Let’s say you decide to start a new business, go to college, or setup a new marketing campaign . You know what you want do but you’re not sure how to get there. This is where you benefit from using an Action Plan.

Definition: A series of activities that must be performed for a plan to succeed.

In other words, you’re going to identify all the key tasks you need to perform to reach this goal, and then put a plan in place that lets you accomplish this as effectively as possible.

Next, let’s look at the structure.

How do you structure an Action Plan?

Your Action Plan will have three parts:

  • Tasks – this identifies what will be done and by whom.
  • Time – this shows when these tasks will be done and in what sequence
  • Resource – this identifies what people, funds and tools are needed for specific activities.

Next, let’s look at how to format the Microsoft Word template.

How do you format an Action Plan?

If you’re using MS Word to create your Action Plan template, then use the following guidelines to format, style, and develop the content.

Create a Table of Contents that covers the following topics:

1 Introduction

1.2 Mission

1.3 Objectives

1.4 Strategies

1.5 Areas of Impact

1.6 Points of Contact

1.7 Assumptions

1.8 Constraints

1.9 Dependencies

2 Management Structure

2.1 Organization Chart

2.2 Roles & Responsibilities

2.3 Anticipated Change

3 Action Plan

3.1 Implications for staff involvement

3.2 Enhance practices

3.3 Evidence of success

4 Continuous Monitoring

5.1 Participant Outcomes

5.2 Organizational Outcomes

5.3 Community Outcomes

6 Project Budget

You may not need all these sections for your plan, so modify the sections that suit you best.

Remember to add a Document History section to the cover sheet, so you can track all the changes made to the document. This makes sure there is one master copy in circulation and reduces any confusion that might exist otherwise.

In this next tutorial, we look a sample action plan and the mistakes to avoid when getting started.

Connecting dots

Over the following weeks, I’ll break down the approach I took to find the optimum way to operate my web business. As you can imagine, this involves false starts, setbacks, and a fair bit of persistence. The good news is that I stumbled across (lots of exploring) a framework that’s new to me. It’s to do with taking smart notes. In tandem with this approach to note-taking, I’ve also started to switched from long-term plans to more granular, atomic plans.

If you’re interested in this, sign up for the newsletter as I’ll keep you abreast of how it works.

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More From Forbes

How To Start A Business Plan: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Creating a business plan is a critical first step for any entrepreneur. Knowing how to start a business plan will help you create a roadmap, guiding your business from startup to growth and beyond. Whether you're looking for investment, trying to set clear goals, or simply organizing your thoughts, a solid business plan can make all the difference.

Here is a guide to help you get started on your business plan:

1. executive summary.

What It Is: This section summarizes your business plan as a whole and outlines your company profile and goals.

What to Include:

  • Business name and location
  • Products or services offered
  • Mission statement
  • The purpose of the plan (e.g., seeking funding, guiding the startup process)

Tip: Keep it concise. Although it's the first section, it's often best to write it last, after you’ve detailed everything else.

2. Company Description

What It Is: This section provides detailed information about your company, including who you are, what you do, and what markets you serve.

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  • Your business structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation)
  • The industry and marketplace needs your business meets
  • Your business’s objectives and how you stand out from competitors

Tip: Use this section to highlight your company’s strengths and what makes you unique.

3. Market Research

What It Is: Market research demonstrates your understanding of the industry and target market.

  • Market size and growth potential
  • Target customer demographics
  • Market trends and outlook
  • Competitive analysis, including strengths and weaknesses of competitors

Tip: Include data and statistics to back up your findings and show that you’ve done your homework.

4. Organization and Management

What It Is: This section outlines your business’s organizational structure and management team.

  • Organizational chart
  • Information about the ownership of the company
  • Backgrounds and qualifications of the management team
  • Roles and responsibilities within the company

Tip: Highlight the skills and experiences of your team that will help the business succeed.

5. Products or Services Line

What It Is: Here, you detail the products or services you offer or plan to offer.

  • A description of each product or service
  • The lifecycle of products or services
  • Research and development activities, if applicable
  • Intellectual property, such as patents or trademarks

Tip: Focus on the benefits your products or services bring to your customers.

6. Marketing and Sales Strategy

What It Is: This section explains how you will attract and retain customers.

  • Marketing strategies, including advertising, promotions, and public relations
  • Sales strategies, including sales processes, channels, and tactics
  • Pricing strategy and how it compares to competitors

Tip: Ensure your marketing and sales strategies are aligned with your market research findings.

7. Funding Request

What It Is: If you’re seeking funding , this section outlines your requirements.

  • Your current funding needs
  • Future funding requirements over the next five years
  • How you intend to use the funds
  • Potential future financial plans (e.g., selling the business, repaying debt)

Tip: Be specific and realistic about how much funding you need and how it will be used.

8. Financial Projections

What It Is: Financial projections provide a forecast of your business’s financial future.

  • Income statements
  • Cash flow statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Break-even analysis

Tip: Use realistic and conservative estimates. Consider hiring a financial professional to help with this section if needed.

9. Appendix

What It Is: The appendix includes any additional information that supports your business plan.

  • Resumes of key management team members
  • Permits and leases
  • Legal documents
  • Detailed market research data
  • Product photos

Tip: Only include essential information that adds value to your business plan.

Final Tips for Creating a Business Plan

Creating a business plan requires clarity and precision. First and foremost, keep your business plan clear and concise. Avoid using jargon or complex language that could make the plan difficult to read or understand. Your aim should be to communicate your ideas effectively and efficiently.

Next, be realistic in your approach. Ensure that your goals and financial projections are attainable based on your research and understanding of the market. Overly ambitious projections can undermine your credibility and potentially lead to unrealistic expectations.

It's also essential to remember that a business plan is a dynamic document. As your business grows and market conditions change, you should revisit and revise your plan regularly. This helps you stay aligned with your goals and adapt to new challenges and opportunities.

Finally, seek feedback from experienced business professionals. Having someone with business experience review your plan can provide valuable insights and help identify any potential issues or areas for improvement. Their feedback can enhance the overall quality and effectiveness of your business plan.

By following these tips, you'll be better equipped to create a robust and effective business plan that can guide your business towards success.

The bottom line is that starting a business plan may seem challenging, but with careful planning and attention to detail, you can create a comprehensive guide to steer your business toward success. Use this step-by-step guide to ensure that all essential components are covered, giving your business the best possible start.

Melissa Houston, CPA is the author of Cash Confident: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating a Profitable Business and the founder of She Means Profit . As a Business Strategist for small business owners, Melissa helps women making mid-career shifts, to launch their dream businesses, and I also guide established business owners to grow their businesses to more profitably.

The opinions expressed in this article are not intended to replace any professional or expert accounting and/or tax advice whatsoever.

Melissa Houston

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How to Write a Business Plan Executive Summary (Example Included!)

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How do you turn your brilliant business idea into a reality? You've done your homework and know that to get investors or partners, you need a business plan . But more than that, you want to really stand out and make a strong first impression—and that's where the business plan executive summary steps in.

This key section gives a quick snapshot of your entire business strategy, and is designed to catch the interest of potential investors, stakeholders, or partners. It can be the difference between landing that dream deal or getting lost in the slush pile.

So, what's better than a business plan executive summary example to point you in the right direction? Below, you'll find a great one—plus tips on what to include, what to avoid, and how to craft yours.

What is a business plan executive summary?

A business plan executive summary is a condensed overview of the key elements of your business plan. It introduces your business, what you offer (products or services), your target market, and what sets you apart from the competition. It also outlines your financial projections and funding needs (if applicable) and gives a clear picture of your company description and vision.

Your business plan executive summary could be decisive in several situations:

  • Pitching to investors: Investors often make preliminary decisions based on the executive summary. A well-crafted summary can get you a meeting and a chance to present your full business plan.
  • Summarizing for stakeholders: Stakeholders need to quickly understand your business's direction and key strategies. An executive summary gives them a concise update.
  • Business competitions: In many business plan competitions, judges rely on the executive summary to decide which plans move to the next round.

Now that you understand the importance of an executive summary in a business plan, let’s see the key components that make up a winning one.

What should an executive summary include in a business plan

Crafting an effective executive summary means transforming the most critical elements of your business plan into a clear and compelling story. It's typically positioned at the beginning of the document but is written last to ensure it accurately reflects the entire plan.

Here are the key parts of an executive summary in a business plan:

Mission statement

Your mission statement is the heart of your business; it can grab your audience's attention and clarify your business’s core values and objectives. Briefly describe your company’s purpose and what you aim to achieve.

Company history and management team

Provide a brief overview of your business’s history, noting key milestones and achievements. Introduce your management team, highlighting their experience and expertise. This section helps build credibility and shows that you have a capable team behind the business.

Products or services

Describe the products or services your business offers, focusing on what makes them unique and how they meet market needs. This part should clearly explain the value your offerings provide.

Target market

Define your target customers, including their demographics, needs, and pain points. Highlight the demand for your products or services and how your business meets this demand. Assess your main competitors, identifying their strengths, weaknesses, and market share.

Competitive edge

Identify what sets your business apart from the competition. This could be unique technology, excellent customer service, a strong brand, patents, or trademarks—anything that really gives you an edge. Emphasize these strengths to show why your business will thrive in the market.

Financial projections

Give a high-level overview of your financial projections, covering revenue, profit margins, and growth expectations. This section should reassure readers about your business’s financial viability and potential for success. Do not forget to include the amount of funding you're seeking and how you'll use it to achieve your goals.

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How to write a business plan executive summary: Dos and Don'ts

So, how do you write an executive summary for a business plan? Here's what you should do—and what you should avoid.

  • Hook them early: Start with a captivating introduction that grabs the reader's attention. This could be a strong opening statement or an impactful statistic that highlights your most compelling value proposition.
  • Write with clarity: Keep your language clear and straightforward. Using jargon or technical terms could confuse your audience.
  • Tell a story : People are naturally drawn to stories. Try to frame your business plan executive summary as a narrative that includes challenges and successes.
  • Focus on impact: Prioritize the most important information. Remember, it's a summary, not the full story.
  • Quantify your success: Use data and metrics whenever you can to back up your claims about market size, growth potential, and financial projections.
  • Proofread like a pro: Typos and grammatical errors can leave a negative impression. Double (or triple) check your work before sending it out. Don’t just use spelling and grammar check—actually re-read it to catch any mistakes.
  • Showcase your passion: That should be the easy part. Just let your enthusiasm for your business and its mission shine through!
  • Bury the lead: Don't wait until the end to share your most important information. Start strong and capture their interest right away.
  • Be too vague: Instead, be specific and provide concrete details. Vague statements don’t add value or clarity, so they don't belong in your business executive summary.
  • Ignore your audience: Tailor your summary to the needs and interests of your audience. Consider what they need to know and what will capture their interest.
  • Overpromise and underdeliver: Be realistic about your projections and timelines. Setting unrealistic expectations can damage your credibility.
  • Get bogged down in details: Save the nitty-gritty details for your full business plan. Focus on the key highlights in your executive summary.
  • Forget the call to action: Tell your readers what you want them to do next. Do you want them to invest? Partner with you? Clearly outline your desired outcome.
  • Write in a vacuum: Get feedback from trusted advisors or mentors before finalizing your summary. Fresh eyes can help spot areas for improvement.

Business plan executive summary example

Wondering how these tips look in action? Here's the business plan summary example you've been looking for.

This one is for a fictitious company—let's call it Econnovate—specializing in renewable energy solutions. Use it as a guide to craft your own business plan executive summary.

Mission and vision statements

Econnovate is revolutionizing the energy landscape with innovative, sustainable solutions that empower businesses and communities to embrace a cleaner future. Our mission is to use the power of renewable energy sources to provide innovative, affordable, and sustainable energy solutions to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and create a more environmentally conscious world.

Founded in 2021, Econnovate is a team of passionate engineers and environmental enthusiasts dedicated to developing cutting-edge renewable energy technologies. Our team boasts over 50 years of combined industry experience, including experts in technology, marketing, and operations. Headquartered in Denver, CO, we operate with a global mindset, serving clients across diverse industries and geographies.

Our products

Econnovate's flagship product, SolarMax, is a cutting-edge solar panel system that offers 20% more efficiency than conventional panels. Additionally, we provide EcoBattery, a state-of-the-art energy storage solution that maximizes the utility of our solar panels, ensuring energy availability even during non-sunny periods. Our products are designed to be both cost-effective and easy to install, making sustainable energy accessible to a wider audience.

The global renewable energy market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.8% over the next decade. Our target market includes environmentally conscious homeowners and businesses seeking sustainable energy solutions. With increasing regulatory support and growing environmental awareness, the demand for our products is poised for substantial growth.

Econnovate’s proprietary solar technology not only increases efficiency but also reduces costs, giving us a significant edge over competitors. We not only provide renewable energy solutions but also adhere to sustainable practices in our own operations. Additionally, our exceptional customer service and strong brand reputation further differentiate us in the marketplace. We also offer comprehensive warranties and maintenance services, ensuring long-term customer satisfaction and loyalty.

We project a 30% annual revenue growth over the next five years, with profitability expected to be achieved by year three. Our robust financial model is based on conservative estimates and thorough market analysis. By year five, we anticipate generating $50 million in annual revenue, with a healthy profit margin of 15%.

We are seeking $2 million in funding to scale our manufacturing capabilities and expand our market reach. This investment will enable Econnovate to double production capacity and increase market share by 15% within two years. The funds will be allocated to enhancing our production facilities, boosting our marketing plan, and expanding our sales team.

1. What is an executive summary in a business plan?

It's a concise summary of the key points of a business plan, highlighting the business’s mission, products or services, market, competitive advantages, financial projections, and funding needs. The goal is to give a quick overview that captures the reader’s interest and encourages them to read the full plan.

2. How long should an executive summary be?

An executive summary is typically one to two pages long. It should provide a concise overview without overwhelming the reader. Focus on the most important aspects of your business plan, making sure each point is clear and impactful.

3. Can I use a template to write an executive summary?

Yes! Templates offer an effective structure and help ensure you cover all essential elements. But don't just fill in the blanks. Tailor the template to fit your business and make it your own. (Feel free to use our example as a guide.)

4. Should an executive summary be written in first person or third person?

An executive summary is typically written in the third person to maintain a professional tone. However, if your business plan is for internal use or a more personal presentation, using the first person can be appropriate. The key is to keep your writing clear and professional at all times.

5. How do I make my executive summary stand out?

To make your executive summary stand out, focus on being clear and compelling. Start with a strong opening statement that grabs attention. Use visual elements like bullet points, headings, and charts to make it easy to read. Highlight your unique selling points and ensure your summary is free of complex jargon and technical language.

Remember, your executive summary is often the first impression of your business, so make it count!

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Watch CBS News

What is Project 2025? What to know about the conservative blueprint for a second Trump administration

By Melissa Quinn , Jacob Rosen

Updated on: July 11, 2024 / 9:40 AM EDT / CBS News

Washington — Voters in recent weeks have begun to hear the name "Project 2025" invoked more and more by President Biden and Democrats, as they seek to sound the alarm about what could be in store if former President Donald Trump wins a second term in the White House.

Overseen by the conservative Heritage Foundation, the multi-pronged initiative includes a detailed blueprint for the next Republican president to usher in a sweeping overhaul of the executive branch.

Trump and his campaign have worked to distance themselves from Project 2025, with the former president going so far as to call some of the proposals "abysmal." But Democrats have continued to tie the transition project to Trump, especially as they find themselves mired in their own controversy over whether Mr. Biden should withdraw from the 2024 presidential contest following his startling debate performance last month.

Here is what to know about Project 2025:

What is Project 2025?

Project 2025 is a proposed presidential transition project that is composed of four pillars: a policy guide for the next presidential administration; a LinkedIn-style database of personnel who could serve in the next administration; training for that pool of candidates dubbed the "Presidential Administration Academy;" and a playbook of actions to be taken within the first 180 days in office.

It is led by two former Trump administration officials: Paul Dans, who was chief of staff at the Office of Personnel Management and serves as director of the project, and Spencer Chretien, former special assistant to Trump and now the project's associate director.

Project 2025 is spearheaded by the Heritage Foundation, but includes an advisory board consisting of more than 100 conservative groups.

Much of the focus on — and criticism of — Project 2025 involves its first pillar, the nearly 900-page policy book that lays out an overhaul of the federal government. Called "Mandate for Leadership 2025: The Conservative Promise," the book builds on a "Mandate for Leadership" first published in January 1981, which sought to serve as a roadmap for Ronald Reagan's incoming administration.

The recommendations outlined in the sprawling plan reach every corner of the executive branch, from the Executive Office of the President to the Department of Homeland Security to the little-known Export-Import Bank. 

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with advisers in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D,C., on June 25, 2019.

The Heritage Foundation also created a "Mandate for Leadership" in 2015 ahead of Trump's first term. Two years into his presidency, it touted that Trump had instituted 64% of its policy recommendations, ranging from leaving the Paris Climate Accords, increasing military spending, and increasing off-shore drilling and developing federal lands. In July 2020, the Heritage Foundation gave its updated version of the book to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. 

The authors of many chapters are familiar names from the Trump administration, such as Russ Vought, who led the Office of Management and Budget; former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller; and Roger Severino, who was director of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Vought is the policy director for the 2024 Republican National Committee's platform committee, which released its proposed platform on Monday. 

John McEntee, former director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office under Trump, is a senior advisor to the Heritage Foundation, and said that the group will "integrate a lot of our work" with the Trump campaign when the official transition efforts are announced in the next few months.

Candidates interested in applying for the Heritage Foundation's "Presidential Personnel Database" are vetted on a number of political stances, such as whether they agree or disagree with statements like "life has a right to legal protection from conception to natural death," and "the President should be able to advance his/her agenda through the bureaucracy without hindrance from unelected federal officials."

The contributions from ex-Trump administration officials have led its critics to tie Project 2025 to his reelection campaign, though the former president has attempted to distance himself from the initiative.

What are the Project 2025 plans?

Some of the policies in the Project 2025 agenda have been discussed by Republicans for years or pushed by Trump himself: less federal intervention in education and more support for school choice; work requirements for able-bodied, childless adults on food stamps; and a secure border with increased enforcement of immigration laws, mass deportations and construction of a border wall. 

But others have come under scrutiny in part because of the current political landscape. 

Abortion and social issues

In recommendations for the Department of Health and Human Services, the agenda calls for the Food and Drug Administration to reverse its 24-year-old approval of the widely used abortion pill mifepristone. Other proposed actions targeting medication abortion include reinstating more stringent rules for mifepristone's use, which would permit it to be taken up to seven weeks into a pregnancy, instead of the current 10 weeks, and requiring it to be dispensed in-person instead of through the mail.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that is on the Project 2025 advisory board, was involved in a legal challenge to mifepristone's 2000 approval and more recent actions from the FDA that made it easier to obtain. But the Supreme Court rejected the case brought by a group of anti-abortion rights doctors and medical associations on procedural grounds.

The policy book also recommends the Justice Department enforce the Comstock Act against providers and distributors of abortion pills. That 1873 law prohibits drugs, medicines or instruments used in abortions from being sent through the mail.


Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade , the volume states that the Justice Department "in the next conservative administration should therefore announce its intent to enforce federal law against providers and distributors of such pills."

The guide recommends the next secretary of Health and Human Services get rid of the Reproductive Healthcare Access Task Force established by the Biden administration before Roe's reversal and create a "pro-life task force to ensure that all of the department's divisions seek to use their authority to promote the life and health of women and their unborn children."

In a section titled "The Family Agenda," the proposal recommends the Health and Human Services chief "proudly state that men and women are biological realities," and that "married men and women are the ideal, natural family structure because all children have a right to be raised by the men and women who conceived them."

Further, a program within the Health and Human Services Department should "maintain a biblically based, social science-reinforced definition of marriage and family."

During his first four years in office, Trump banned transgender people from serving in the military. Mr. Biden reversed that policy , but the Project 2025 policy book calls for the ban to be reinstated.

Targeting federal agencies, employees and policies

The agenda takes aim at longstanding federal agencies, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. The agency is a component of the Commerce Department and the policy guide calls for it to be downsized. 

NOAA's six offices, including the National Weather Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, "form a colossal operation that has become one of the main drivers of the climate change alarm industry and, as such, is harmful to future U.S. prosperity," the guide states. 

The Department of Homeland Security, established in 2002, should be dismantled and its agencies either combined with others, or moved under the purview of other departments altogether, the policy book states. For example, immigration-related entities from the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Health and Human Services should form a standalone, Cabinet-level border and immigration agency staffed by more than 100,000 employees, according to the agenda.

The Department of Homeland Security logo is seen on a law enforcement vehicle in Washington on March 7, 2017.

If the policy recommendations are implemented, another federal agency that could come under the knife by the next administration, with action from Congress, is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The agenda seeks to bring a push by conservatives to target diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, initiatives in higher education to the executive branch by wiping away a slew of DEI-related positions, policies and programs and calling for the elimination of funding for partners that promote DEI practices.

It states that U.S. Agency for International Development staff and grantees that "engage in ideological agitation on behalf of the DEI agenda" should be terminated. At the Treasury Department, the guide says the next administration should "treat the participation in any critical race theory or DEI initiative without objecting on constitutional or moral grounds, as per se grounds for termination of employment."

The Project 2025 policy book also takes aim at more innocuous functions of government. It calls for the next presidential administration to eliminate or reform the dietary guidelines that have been published by the Department of Agriculture for more than 40 years, which the authors claim have been "infiltrated" by issues like climate change and sustainability.


Trump made immigration a cornerstone of his last two presidential runs and has continued to hammer the issue during his 2024 campaign. Project 2025's agenda not only recommends finishing the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but urges the next administration to "take a creative and aggressive approach" to responding to drug cartels at the border. This approach includes using active-duty military personnel and the National Guard to help with arrest operations along the southern border.

A memo from Immigration and Customs Enforcement that prohibits enforcement actions from taking place at "sensitive" places like schools, playgrounds and churches should be rolled back, the policy guide states. 

When the Homeland Security secretary determines there is an "actual or anticipated mass migration of aliens" that presents "urgent circumstances" warranting a federal response, the agenda says the secretary can make rules and regulations, including through their expulsion, for as long as necessary. These rules, the guide states, aren't subject to the Administration Procedure Act, which governs the agency rule-making process.

What do Trump and his advisers say about Project 2025?

In a post to his social media platform on July 5, Trump wrote , "I know nothing about Project 2025. I have no idea who is behind it. I disagree with some of the things they're saying and some of the things they're saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal. Anything they do, I wish them luck, but I have nothing to do with them."

Trump's pushback to the initiative came after Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts said in a podcast interview that the nation is "in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be."

The former president continued to disavow the initiative this week, writing in another social media post  that he knows nothing about Project 2025.

"I have not seen it, have no idea who is in charge of it, and, unlike our very well received Republican Platform, had nothing to do with it," Trump wrote. "The Radical Left Democrats are having a field day, however, trying to hook me into whatever policies are stated or said. It is pure disinformation on their part. By now, after all of these years, everyone knows where I stand on EVERYTHING!"

While the former president said he doesn't know who is in charge of the initiative, the project's director, Dans, and associate director, Chretien, were high-ranking officials in his administration. Additionally, Ben Carson, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Trump; John Ratcliffe, former director of National Intelligence in the Trump administration; and Peter Navarro, who served as a top trade adviser to Trump in the White House, are listed as either authors or contributors to the policy agenda.

Still, even before Roberts' comments during "The War Room" podcast — typically hosted by conservative commentator Steve Bannon, who reported to federal prison to begin serving a four-month sentence last week — Trump's top campaign advisers have stressed that Project 2025 has no official ties to his reelection bid.

Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita, senior advisers to the Trump campaign, said in a November statement that 2024 policy announcements will be made by Trump or his campaign team.

"Any personnel lists, policy agendas, or government plans published anywhere are merely suggestions," they said.

While the efforts by outside organizations are "appreciated," Wiles and LaCivita said, "none of these groups or individuals speak for President Trump or his campaign."

In response to Trump's post last week, Project 2025 reiterated that it was separate from the Trump campaign.

"As we've been saying for more than two years now, Project 2025 does not speak for any candidate or campaign. We are a coalition of more than 110 conservative groups advocating policy & personnel recommendations for the next conservative president. But it is ultimately up to that president, who we believe will be President Trump, to decide which recommendations to implement," a statement on the project's X account said.

The initiative has also pushed back on Democrats' claims about its policy proposals and accused them of lying about what the agenda contains.

What do Democrats say?

Despite their attempts to keep some distance from Project 2025, Democrats continue to connect Trump with the transition effort. The Biden-Harris campaign frequently posts about the project on X, tying it to a second Trump term.

Mr. Biden himself accused his Republican opponent of lying about his connections to the Project 2025 agenda, saying in a statement that the agenda was written for Trump and "should scare every single American." He claimed on his campaign social media account  Wednesday that Project 2025 "will destroy America."

Congressional Democrats have also begun pivoting to Project 2025 when asked in interviews about Mr. Biden's fitness for a second term following his lackluster showing at the June 27 debate, the first in which he went head-to-head with Trump.

"Trump is all about Project 2025," Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman told CNN on Monday. "I mean, that's what we really should be voting on right now. It's like, do we want the kind of president that is all about Project '25?"

Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, one of Mr. Biden's closest allies on Capitol Hill, told reporters Monday that the agenda for the next Republican president was the sole topic he would talk about.

"Project 2025, that's my only concern," he said. "I don't want you or my granddaughter to live under that government."

In a statement reiterating her support for Mr. Biden, Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida called Project 2025 "MAGA Republicans' draconian 920-page plan to end U.S. democracy, give handouts to the wealthy and strip Americans of their freedoms."

What are Republicans saying about Project 2025?

Two GOP senators under consideration to serve as Trump's running mate sought to put space between the White House hopeful and Project 2025, casting it as merely the product of a think tank that puts forth ideas.

"It's the work of a think tank, of a center-right think tank, and that's what think tanks do," Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.

He said Trump's message to voters focuses on "restoring common sense, working-class values, and making our decisions on the basis of that."

Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance raised a similar sentiment in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press," saying organizations will have good ideas and bad ideas.

"It's a 900-page document," he said Sunday. "I guarantee there are things that Trump likes and dislikes about that 900-page document. But he is the person who will determine the agenda of the next administration."

Jaala Brown contributed to this report.

Melissa Quinn is a politics reporter for CBSNews.com. She has written for outlets including the Washington Examiner, Daily Signal and Alexandria Times. Melissa covers U.S. politics, with a focus on the Supreme Court and federal courts.

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Project 2025: What is it? Who is behind it? How is it connected to Trump?

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