A business action plan is a useful project management tool, and can also be helpful when mapping out a strategy for achieving goals. Creating an action plan involves itemizing the steps that need to be taken in order to achieve a desired result, as well as making task assignments, setting due dates, identifying necessary resources and more.
Accessing the Template
If you're ready to create an action plan, the free template provided here is a good example that you may want to use. You can download the document in a printable PDF format simply by clicking the image. The template will open separately as a PDF document that you can save, edit and print using menu commands. You can add or delete steps by clicking the "+" or "-" signs respectively.
Using the Template
The template has six columns, each of which plays an important role in establishing and implementing an action plan.
- Action steps - Use one row for each individual step that needs to be accomplished in order to finish the project or accomplish the defined goal. Your plan should have one row for each action step.
- Assigned to - Fill in this column with the names of the people who are responsible for the action step listed on the same line.
- Resources needed - Identify the resources necessary to accomplish the action step. This may include personnel, finances, equipment, supplies, facility space, etc.
- Due date - Set a deadline for when the action step needs to be accomplished.
- Completed? - When an action step has been completed, use this box to mark it as finished. You can simply enter an X or check mark, or keep track of what was done when by entering a date.
- Notes - Use this area to record relevant information that does not fit neatly into the other boxes on the form. For some steps it may be blank; for others it may have information such as progress updates, reasons extensions were granted, additional questions raised, etc.
Additional Template Options
While the template provided above can work in many circumstances, it is not the only option for creating an action plan. If you'd like to explore other formats, one of the following examples may meet your needs.
- WordTemplatesOnline.org - If you'd prefer to use a template that opens as a Microsoft Word file rather than a PDF document, this site has an option that may work for you. When you go to the site, you'll need to click the "Download Now" link to access the action plan. You can opt to save it to your computer or to immediately open it with Word. The plan has columns for objectives, tasks, success criteria, time frame and resources.
- GoogleDocs - If you use GoogleDocs, you can access a free template for an action plan created directly in the online application. It is provided at no cost by small business expert Denise O'Berry and is free to use and share with anyone, simply by sharing the URL. It has columns for action steps, responsible party, deadline, resources, potential barriers and results.
Helpful Planning Tool
Regardless of which template you use - or if you decide to simply use these samples as points of reference and create your own - using an action plan is a good way to break projects and business goals down into manageable steps. It's also an important first step toward getting started, making progress, and ultimately obtaining the results you need to accomplish.
Once you have steps listed out, you can then add in additional detail as needed based on the nature of what you are working on, and then use the information as a checklist to track progress every step of the way.