What IS an Action Plan and a Yearly Action Plan?

First, let us define what an action plan is. An action plan is a list of tasks that you need to accomplish in order to meet a certain goal or an objective. Sometimes called a workplan, a to-do list, or a planning report, an action plan carefully outlines the actions, or steps, needed to achieve the goal. Hence, a Yearly Action Plan is a type of planning that is done on an annual basis to meet year-end goals. Often used in business or in sales or in community organization action planning, the action plan predefines the goal, the objective, the mission why the goal was set. Tied to the strategic planning and budget planning, a yearly action plan details what activities should be taken in order to achieve the strategic and budget goals.

Nyron Drepaul, a senior Business Advisor with BDC’s Advisory Services, says, “The action plan is at the heart of a strategic plan. It should offer specific tactical actions that deliver on the company’s strategic objectives.” He further points out, “The entrepreneur needs to know exactly what to do next, once the plan is completed.” To his point, an action plan should be continually updated, hence, the need to make an action plan that’s based on a timeline. A yearly action plan is very important to any successful business or organization. Annual planning keeps you up to date with your business with its tracking and monitoring guidance. The planning should include what went wrong from the previous year, and how to anticipate future issues that will come up for the next year.

A good yearly action plan should give a timeline on every action item steps to be taken. Some of the benefits of having a yearly action plan is that it gives you a clear direction of where you came from and where you want to go. Since it’s also a form of documentation, it serves as a guide or a roadmap in moving forward. It helps you monitor your progress, if you are anywhere near from reaching your goals. Individuals can also use action planning to achieve their personal life goal, or even employees so that they can be able to track their work performances. Another benefit for having a yearly action plan in place within the business is that it can also help develop a bond within the team members. Having your goals laid out, each individual will know what will their contribution be to make the business grow and be successful.

What are the Elements of a good Yearly Action Plan?

Having a yearly action plan can be a hit-or-miss. You may have an action plan in place, but if you don’t have the right key ingredients to it, there is a big chance that you might run into failure. When planning, always make sure that you know what you want to achieve, and in this case, the annual goals that you want to achieve. Be sure that you are surrounded with the right people that help you to stay on track when writing your yearly action plan. Keep in mind the following elements when creating your yearly action plan:

Set Goals and Objectives: You need to clearly state what your objective or goal for that year is. It can be in the form of hitting a sales quota, the completion of a construction project, being able to raise a certain amount of money for a specific project, et cetera. The objective, or goal, should be the finish line in your yearly action plan. Again, the action plan should serve as your roadmap in achieving your goal, and with every action begins with a specific description of what you want to achieve.Identified Action Steps: A very important element in any type of action plan is the detailed steps or tasks to be undertaken. Every step needs to be specific. Do not include action items that are vague. Use action words to help motivate you and the team. Make sure that these steps are realistic, tangible, or doable, and measurable, meaning that they are achievable based on given resources. For example, if your company’s budget allows you to have this kind of activity, then you work within that budget. Overall, your action steps should be aligned as well with your strategic plan and your budget plan.Good Support Team: Your yearly action plan would be successful if your team that’s working on it is composed of reliable and responsible individuals who are aligned with your objectives. A plan is just as good as the people who are working on it. Make sure that your team is carefully selected out for your yearly objective. For example, if you have a sales goal for that year of hitting a particular figure or amount of quota, you need to be surrounded by team members who are experienced in sales in that particular field. Your team should, if possible, consist of individuals who have a good track record of hitting their sales targets, sales consultants, logistics, or even someone from the accounting side to help you analyze if the numbers presented are realistic. Open yourself up to opinions given by your team members. It would be best to avoid having in your team individuals who brought negativity or pessimism to the group. It is always better to have an optimistic attitude, based upon realistic expectations of course, than to have someone who is always pessimistic that could bring down the whole motivation of the group.Clear Set Timeline: This element in your yearly action plan tackles the schedules and deadlines you gave for each action step outlined. Each activity should have time restrictions, after all, you only have 12 months to achieve your goal. A timeline could serve as your goal tracker, guiding you in seeing how near or far you are from reaching your goal. In fact, it provides you an opportunity to make any modifications to your action steps as necessary. If you see that you are halfway through the year, and you’re still not getting half of the projected sales, then you need to up your game plan and make some adjustments to your sales plan. You could make some changes in your activities by becoming more aggressive since you only have six months left till your deadline. All in all, each activity should have a start date and an end date. This will help keep you on your feet and focused on your target goal. Support and Resources: A good yearly action plan should identify what support or resources you need in order to perform each action step. Since your action plan needs to be measurable and realistic, you have to base your activity on what resources are available. In the case of sales business, one important resource is the budget allocated for you for the entire year. Another important resource is manpower. Do you have the right people on your team? Do you have strong and capable individuals who are just as motivated as you are? Those are the questions you need to ask yourself when checking for your support and resources.Review and Recommendation Strategy: A successful and effective yearly action plan should have a place to make reviews and recommendations as you go along throughout the year. This helps you monitor the progress of each activity taken and make recommendation reports as you go along to see if you need to make adjustments or changes to your actions items.

What are the Steps in Making an Effective Yearly Action Plan?

Like with any kind of planning, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to making an action plan. The important thing to keep in mind is that you have all of your elements in place. These are some of the common steps when making a yearly action plan:

Step 1: Write Down your Goal and the Vision and Mission

It always helps to identify first what you are planning to achieve and your reason for achieving that goal. Be specific when writing your goal. Your vision and mission statement should be aligned and realistic to the goal at hand. Write your statements briefly and straight to the point. Ask for some inputs from your team members on what they think about the vision and mission, if they agree with it or not. Your vision and mission should resonate soundly throughout the whole team. Also, identify what are the possible issues that may arise and write down possible solutions to address them.

Step 2: List Down the Action Steps and the Timeline

This is where the planning process begins. Since you are going to make a plan that is supposed to be achieved within a year’s time, it’s best to break down your timeline per activity. Again, based on your budget, start planning for action steps that are realistic. You could do different activities on a monthly basis, every quarter, or every six months. Or you could even break it down to smaller bits like weekly activities. Every time you’re done with an activity, make sure that there’s a space for you in the documentation to evaluate each activity’s progress. For example in sales, if you’re planning to do an activity per month, you could break down the whole year’s target quota on a monthly basis. If your year’s quota is at 60 sales, you could have a monthly sales target of 5. At the end of each month, check to see if your sales activity was able to achieve that 5 sales quota. If not, you could carry over the lacking sale to the next month, and maybe make some changes to your next month’s activities by doing more aggressive sales activities. Same theory applies to other industries, or even to individual personal goals. Action steps should always adhere to a timeline so that you can be able to measure how far or near you are from achieving your goal.

Step 3: Identify Resources Needed for Each Activity

Once you have your action steps, identify the resources you need in order to implement these activities. This goes hand in hand with the budget allocated to hit your goal. Resources could also be in the form of other materials. It could be the available transportation at your disposal. It could be the available manpower you need to implement these activities. For individual goals, it could be what kind of equipment you need, the place or venue, et cetera. For community organization goals, it could be in the form of printed materials, like how much do you need. It could also be in the form of digital resources, like through social media.

Step 4: Give an Assessment and Recommendation

You need to make a consistent assessment throughout the year with each activity or task that was undertaken. This will help measure where you are in reaching your goal, both in business or individual type goals. Make some necessary changes along the way based on your set timeline. Determine what are some corrective actions that need to be taken when there are issues identified. Create recommendations based on the results of each activity. Gather your team and consistently report on the progress. Doing an assessment as a team will give you an opportunity to refine your action items as needed, also considering the inputs from your team members.

FAQs

Is it important to have a yearly action plan to achieve your business goals?

Yes, having a yearly action plan is very important in achieving business goals. Not only limited to business goals, an action plan is important as well when you have individual goals. In the case of a yearly action plan, it helps to create action items that are attainable through a timetable. As a form of documentation, it allows you to monitor and measure your progress how far away you are from achieving your set goals.

How different is an action plan from a strategic plan?

The action plan follows the strategic plan. Strategic planning is the overall envisioning process of meeting a certain goal. It has more coverage since it sets out the objectives of the overall business report process. An action plan is the solid, tangible steps that will be undertaken based on the strategic planning. These are the actual activities identified that need to be carried out in achieving the goal.

Is it easy to create a yearly action plan?

It should be relatively easy to make one since there are no strict guidelines to follow when creating a yearly action plan. For the action plan to be effective though, always keep in mind the elements when making one: a clear goal; precise action steps to be taken; support team; timeline for every activity; support and resources in place; and an evaluation for each activity.

Clearly, both from a business and individual perspective, a yearly action plan is very beneficial. It helps you stay on track, focused and motivated to achieve your goal. The action plan can also assist you in identifying foreseeable problems in the future and helps you prepare in advance for better outcome results. As Nathaniel Branden said, “A goal without an action plan is a daydream.” Hence, an effective action plan can turn your goals from just a dream into a reality.

What better way to do that than just by downloading one of our yearly action plan templates? We have lots of action plan templates available to choose from, but we also have specific yearly action templates to help you throughout that year-long process. Let’s make it easy for you. Download one of our yearly action plan templates now, and let us guide you on how to effectively reach your goals!