Action plan templates group all the tasks that will help you hit a specific goal. They’re created during the strategic planning process and used by the project team in the same way as a to-do list, though action plans are a bit more complex.
Action plan templates are the reusable version of your action plans. Building a reusable action plan template saves you the time and effort of building a new one from scratch for every new project. And they’re not just for project managers. Every time someone creates a new action plan in any department, they can reuse the template you created, cutting back on the time your organization spends preparing for strategic planning sessions.
The most important part of any action plan template is that it’s yours—customized so it’s most useful for your needs. To get the most use out of your action plan, here are some helpful best practices to follow.
Before you start on your work, you need to know what you’re working for. Host a brainstorming session for goal setting where you determine the outcomes of your action plan. When setting your goals, make them SMART goals:
These goals will act as a north star for your action plan template. Once they’re set, you can refer to your goals to make sure your tasks align with long-term initiatives. This helps ensure your action steps are purposeful and connected, eliminating unnecessary and duplicate “work about work.”
To create an effective action plan, you need tasks that transform your goals into action items. Structure your action plan template as a hierarchy, with your goals at the top and space for all related tasks below. When you use your template for a new project, this task list section will effectively become your to-do list. Keep your task list accessible for all project stakeholders so everyone can make and track adjustments in real-time. This makes it easy to view progress while ensuring that the team stays focused.
For every action plan template, create a space for resource allocation. This works two-fold to show external teams what resources you need for each project, and to determine if your action plan is viable. For example, if your resource allocation review determines there’s no staff available for a timely project, then you know to put the project on hold. If you use a project management tool to create your action plan template, you can automate it to assign team members and add tools or integrations that update with every new action plan.
Every action plan should be time-bound. In your template, set a timeline or estimated start date that you can replicate for each project. Project milestones will also help, especially for action plan templates with a longer time frame. These milestones separate out larger wins as you move towards your end goal. Finally, connect tracking tools to your template so you can see your action plan’s progress and report on metrics in real-time.
After you’ve used your action plan template for several projects, review it. Look for opportunities to streamline items, create a new workflow, or omit unnecessary tasks. Set a recurring reminder to update your action plan template, making sure it’s completely customized to your needs.
List View. List View is a grid-style view that makes it easy to see all of your project’s information at a glance. Like a to-do list or a spreadsheet, List View displays all of your tasks at once so you can not only see task titles and due dates, but also view any relevant custom fields like Priority, Status, or more. Unlock effortless collaboration by giving your entire team visibility into who’s doing what by when.
Goals. Goals in Asana directly connect to the work you’re doing to hit them, making it easy for team members to see what they’re working towards. More often than not, our goals live separate from the work that goes into achieving them. By connecting your team and company goals to the work that supports them, team members have real-time insight and clarity into how their work directly contributes to your team—and company—success. As a result, team members can make better decisions. If necessary, they can identify the projects that support the company’s strategy and prioritize work that delivers measurable results.
Automation. Automate manual work so your team spends less time on the busy work and more time on the tasks you hired them for. Rules in Asana function on a basis of triggers and actions—essentially “when X happens, do Y.” Use Rules to automatically assign work, adjust due dates, set custom fields, notify stakeholders, and more. From ad hoc automations to entire workflows, Rules gives your team time back for skilled and strategic work.
Subtasks. Sometimes a to-do is too big to capture in one task. If a task has more than one contributor, a broad due date, or stakeholders that need to review and approve before it can go live, subtasks can help. Subtasks are a powerful way to distribute work and split tasks into individual components—while keeping the small to-dos connected to the overarching context of the parent task. Break tasks into smaller components or capture the individual components of a multi-step process with subtasks.
Dropbox. Attach files directly to tasks in Asana with the Dropbox file chooser, which is built into the Asana task pane.
Google Workplace. Attach files directly to tasks in Asana with the Google Workplace file chooser, which is built into the Asana task pane. Easily attach any My Drive file with just a few clicks.
OneDrive. Attach files directly to tasks in Asana with the Microsoft OneDrive file chooser, which is built into the Asana task pane. Easily attach files from Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more.
Slack. Turn ideas, work requests, and action items from Slack into trackable tasks and comments in Asana. Go from quick questions and action items to tasks with assignees and due dates. Easily capture work so requests and to-dos don’t get lost in Slack.
It’s simple to create a reusable action plan template, especially in a project management tool. In Asana, you can start with our action plan template and customize it to fit your needs. Even if you use more manual formats, you’ll want to include goals, specific tasks, connected resources, and due dates in most simple action plans.
It’s easy to get confused between action plans and to-do lists. That’s because an action plan template is actually a type of to-do list template, but one that’s connected back to a goal. A to-do list template can be a random, unconnected list of tasks, whereas an action plan template always connects back to an end goal.
You can use action plan templates for just about any business plan. You can create a general template that you use company-wide, or break it down by departments if you have more specific needs. For example, you can create a marketing action plan template for recurring brand campaigns or an organizational action plan template for short-term quarterly OKRs. In a project management platform, you can create one action plan template, share it with the company, and allow each team and individual to use it however they see fit.
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