Occasionally, your business will face challenges that need to be resolved as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter how careful you are because these cannot be avoided, and they can affect any part of your company. The biggest mistake managers make is that they try to fix them without having a detailed plan.
Even though the solution may be evident in some cases, additional problems may occur – the ones you could have avoided had you had a bullet-proof action plan. In the article, we won’t discuss the importance of this plan, but instead, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to create it.
1. Define the problem
The very first thing you have to do is analyze the issue in question meticulously. Is it a single challenge, or are there any additional problems? How did it occur, and what caused it? Could you have prevented it? What are the potential consequences? How much time do you have to deal with it? As you can see, there are many questions you have to answer before working on an action plan. Doing this is crucial since it is the only way to obtain the data you need. Naturally, you need to use this information as the cornerstone of the plan and the starting point when creating it.
2. Include your team
Now that you have a specific problem in front of you, the time has come to involve your team. The truth is you cannot fix the problem on your own. Although it may seem like a possibility, soon you will realize that you need help. Managers and experts need to be included right from the beginning. They shouldn’t only help you resolve the issue but create a plan on how to do it as well.
Each person on the team can contribute by brainstorming potential solutions and even offering their perception of the challenge. Teamwork is vital in situations like this, since you will have a chance to observe the problem from different points of view. Therefore, you will be presented with several potential solutions, and all you will have to do is choose the right one.
3. Set goals
The next thing you should do is set smart, achievable, and measurable goals. Depending on the purpose of the action plan, these may be related to solving the issue you have, or on the other hand, boosting your business. It will lead you nowhere if you do not have specific goals in front of you.
The thing is that you need to be careful when defining these, and as already mentioned, they need to include certain properties. Clearly, your end goal is to grow the company, but the trick is to define smaller goals that will lead you to success. These need to be achievable and realistic, meaning that you need to have a clear plan on things you can do to reach them. In addition, they need to be measurable, that is, you need to be able to analyze the progress regularly.
4. Delegate tasks
Upon setting the goals, you need to think of different tasks that need to be completed. If the tasks you have initially come up with are too complex, you need to break them down. When doing this, think of all the properties the goals need to have. Well, the same rule applies when designing these tasks. Attainable tasks will significantly speed up this entire process since your employees won’t have any trouble completing them. Similarly, simple tasks will enable everyone to understand the final goal and have a clear picture of how their work will take the entire project one step closer to the ultimate achievement.
5. Prioritize the work
Having a list of things that need to be done to conclude the project successfully is not enough. The key is to have an order in which these tasks should be completed. Yes, some of them are probably entirely independent, but in some cases, the data collected from them can affect the other ones. The last thing you want is to have to re-do some work. In the end, you would just be wasting valuable time and resources. Due to this reason, one of the essential features of an action plan is to list all the tasks in a specific order. What’s more, this will facilitate everyone’s job since they will be able to visualize how everything is supposed to develop.
6. Have a timeline
Generally speaking, action plans cover the period of twelve months. It means that it should lead you to the final achievement in the next year. However, this doesn’t mean you should not include specific milestones and timetables. Basically, you need to create a detailed schedule. List all the work that needs to be completed per month. This way, everyone involved in the project will have a clear plan they need to follow, which will boost their efficiency since they will know what exactly needs to be done. Also, you will have an opportunity to analyze the progress every few weeks or months (if you decide to do it quarterly) and inspect whether some things need to be changed.
7. Monitor and update
Now that your plan is set in motion, you need to stay on top of everything that is happening. We have already mentioned that you need to analyze the progress regularly, but there is another thing most business owners are reluctant to do. That’s right. We are talking about making changes to the original schedule. Things can quickly change, and it is why you need to stay on top of everything every step of the way. Sometimes you will be forced to adjust the plan, or you will notice some downsides of it. Whatever the case is, don’t be afraid to do it. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t do anything before meeting with your team.
To sum up, these are some essential steps you need to follow when creating a new action plan. As you can see, it requires a lot of time and work, but there are also some tools, like https://www.zenmindmap.com/, you can use during certain stages of this process to simplify them and improve your team’s productivity.