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Action Planning

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Action Planning

What is it and how can it help me?

Action plans are a key component of successful project management, helping you summarise how you will achieve objectives and by when. When action planning, aim to break down each of your objectives into detailed tasks. This has two purposes:

  1. It ensures that all areas of required action have been taken into account
  2. It breaks the achievement process down into manageable chunks

When does it work best?

To deliver your project on time and to budget, you will need to define all necessary actions and assign responsibility to individuals for delivering these actions within agreed timescales.

How to use it

Steps to produce an action plan:

  • Firstly, establish your current position, by asking questions such as 'Where are we now?'
  • Define your objectives by asking ‘Where do we want to get to?'
  • Next, establish the steps to achieve each objective by asking ‘What do we need to do to get to our desired position?'
  • Finally, decide ‘Who is required to achieve the action, and what is the target date?'




By whom

By when

Possible issues





















































The final column is an optional extra if you feel the need to capture issues that could possibly thwart the action.

What next?

Once you have produced the action plan, you need to review it regularly to ensure that actions are being completed. You could aid this by pinning the action plan up somewhere that the whole team can continually view what actions are outstanding.

Other useful tools and techniques on this website:
Responsibility charting may be another useful tool to facilitate action planning as it can help you to assign tasks to individuals.

Additional resources

‘Rolling Out Your Project: Thirty Five Tools for Health Care Improvers' Sarah W Fraser (Kingsham Press)

The Office of Government website has a wealth of project management resources, including some detailed information on PRINCE2.

The East Midlands Improvement Network has an excellent section how to use action plans in meetings to ensure that they are productive.

© Copyright NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement 2008