Pin Me

Guidelines for Writing an Action Plan

written by: Bruce Tyson • edited by: Ginny Edwards • updated: 1/20/2011

Without an achievable objective and realistic resource utilization, action plans will rarely succeed. Each action plan guideline listed here will help managers and individuals formulate successful action plans that produce results and deliverables in a timely manner.

  • slide 1 of 5

    Address Every Objective

    A key action plan guideline is to make sure that every objective of the project is identified and addressed. Without a clear understandingPlan  of what needs to be done, definitive steps toward accomplishing anything are difficult to define. By spending time up front determining precisely what the objectives of a project are, the actions necessary to achieve them are easier to understand.

    After the objectives are defined, a written action plan for each objective should be developed. The temptation to cut corners by skipping over simple objectives should be avoided first because what may seem obvious to one team member may not be obvious to another and secondly because projects often fail when fundamentals are not addressed.

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Bagui

  • slide 2 of 5

    Develop an Implementation Plan for Every Action Plan Item

    After the action items needed to accomplish each objective are defined, the action plan must go a step further by detaining how each action will be implemented.

    Information included in the implementation plan for each item should list the necessary steps for completing that item. This includes:

    1. Defining each step

    2. Naming the parties of the team responsible for each step

    3. Creating a schedule for completing each step

    4. Listing the resources necessary to complete each step.

    5. Determining what constitutes the successful completion of a step

    6. Communicating the status of each step to the team

    Clearly defined action items are necessary in order to achieve product objectives.

  • slide 3 of 5

    Practical Action Items

    While action plans are important to businesses for strategic planning purposes, they must remain doable. This action plan guideline serves as a reminder to keep expectations realistic while planning. Good intentions and ideal conditions will not get the job done without the necessary skills, resources, and time. Going the extra mile to make sure that every action item is workable will help insure against huge surprises in the form of cost overruns and project delays.

  • slide 4 of 5


    People at every level must have a clear understanding of what they are accountable for and who they are accountable to. This should be understood as a framework for communication and action rather than one for assigning blame for failure.

    Without accountability, those involved in the action plan may be unclear about their roles and unsure with whom they should communicate concerning issues that arise.

    Accountability to the project schedule is also necessary as an action plan guideline. Objectives must be met in a timely manner in order to comply with the overall mission of the team and the organization.

  • slide 5 of 5

    Wrap Up

    Objectives are often missed because an action plan for achieving them are never formulated. Sometimes objectives are missed even when a plan is in place because of unrealistic assumptions. The action plan guidelines listed here will help teams and individuals identify and establish goals and to reach those goals through a realistic, methodical, and accountable process.