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Action Plan Template

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When you’re planning a project, you need a strategy to execute your plan. The action plan is that document. It outlines all the action steps you need to do in order to accomplish your goals. Download your free action plan template for Excel and get on the road to success.

But, if you open the action plan template in ProjectManager instead, you’ll be able to manage your action plan with more than a spreadsheet, you’ll be able to work in five different project views: Gantt, kanban board, task list, calendar and sheet. Plus, you can collaborate with your team in real time, and track progress in the software with live dashboards and instant status reports. Get started for free with ProjectManager and build a better action plan.

free action plan template laid out on a Gantt chart
ProjectManager’s action plan template is free to use and more powerful than Excel. Try it now

What Is an Action Plan?

Just as the name says, a project action plan is a plan of action that explains the strategy to be taken for the successful completion of a project. In project management, an action plan is made up of the project goals you want to achieve and the action steps that must be completed to reach those goals. Subsequently, these action steps consist of tasks known as action items. The action plan example below shows these elements on an Excel spreadsheet.

A project action plan template is an important project planning tool because it describes the team, time and resources needed to complete the project successfully. It includes a timeline that organizes tasks, their priority and the team members responsible for them.

Even though they have the same basic elements like goals, action steps, tasks and a timeline, there are several types of action plan templates such as business, strategic and corrective action plan templates. Our action plan Excel template can serve any of those purposes, and its spreadsheet can be easily adjusted to fit your needs.

Free downloadable action plan template from ProjectManager
ProjectManager’s free action plan template for Excel.

Why Use an Action Plan Template?

The action plan template is a useful planning document because it provides a framework for thinking pragmatically about getting work done in an efficient and effective manner. Using an action plan helps one order the project action steps in a logical way and makes sure that you don’t neglect a critical task along the way. Action plan templates facilitate the project planning process because they include all the essential fields for an action plan.

When you finish filling in your action plan template, all the goals, action steps and tasks are laid out in one place. This helps the project leader to assign or contract tasks as well as note priority levels.

It would be nearly impossible to plan a project, large or small if you don’t write an action plan format that allows you to chart the time and resources needed to get the job done. The name of the plan, the action plan, is also helpful. It avoids jargon so your team members can clearly understand its purpose.

An action plan tells you who is doing what, by when and with which resources. Project management software can turn an action plan into a viable project schedule. ProjectManager takes your tasks and puts them in a Gantt chart, where progress is updated automatically as your team completes their tasks. If a scheduling conflict arises, drag and drop your project timeline and every deadline adjusts accordingly. Plus, managers can monitor team workload allocation, so they can balance tasks and keep their teams productive.

Gantt chart project view with timeline
Turn your action plan into a viable schedule by using ProjectManager’s online Gantt chart.

Who Uses & Updates the Action Plan Template?

The project manager is in charge of creating the action plan, keeping track of its progress and making sure the entire project team is updated. However, the action plan itself has individual team members assigned to each step and action item, which they are responsible for completing.

Usually, the project manager defines the goals, action steps, tasks, due dates and priority levels of the action plan. But larger projects have bigger staffs and there a project coordinator or other personnel might be responsible for the action plan. Whoever completes the action plan template, the project manager is going to have final say and will have the authority to update it as plans change.

How to Use Our Action Plan Template

Our action plan template for Excel is broken down into three sections, each with its own unique steps.

Section One – Action Steps

  • Priority: Each task will have a priority attached to it. That is, it will be determined if the task is a high, medium or low priority, which will help you make a more realistic plan.
  • Tasks: This is where you list every task that must be taken to complete the action steps and achieve the project’s goal. Be thorough, and brainstorm with the team. The more detailed, the better.
  • Phase: Here you will note where the action step takes place over the course of the project life cycle, such as in the planning stage, execution, closing, etc.
  • Assigned: Determine ownership of each individual task by assigning it to a specific team member. They will then be responsible for seeing the task through to completion.
  • Status: Here is where you chart the progress of the work done on each task. Enter a completion percentage or any status that you wish to assign to track progress.

Section Two – Timeline

  • Start Date: This section is your schedule. Each task is tagged with a time in which it must begin to keep the project on track.
  • Due Date: It is here that the due date is determined, so everyone working on that task is clear about when they must have it completed.
  • Planned Hours: When planning, you have figured out how much time can be allotted to each task. Here is where you put that information.

Section Three – Resources

  • Department: Which department is responsible for the task, marketing, dev team, etc.?
  • Materials Required: What materials are needed for completion of that task, software, equipment, materials, site, etc.
  • Cost: What amount of funding has the budget allotted to this task?
  • Notes: Finally, this is a catchall for any information needed to capture which doesn’t fit in any of the other categories.

An Action Plan Template in Action

Once you have started the project, your action plan template is going to act like a roadmap to help provide a course of action through the seemingly chaotic landscape to achieve your goals. There are a few things you should keep in mind during the execution of a project to help when implementing your action plan:

  • Make sure to break down the project into action steps, and then identify the smaller tasks that are needed for each step.
  • Stay focused on task priorities and their deadlines.
  • When a task is done, mark it complete to track progress efficiently.
  • Never leave a task unassigned, all tasks must be the responsibility of someone on the team.
  • Stay in dialogue with your team and keep an ongoing discussion on pending or late tasks.

Using an Action Plan Template with ProjectManager

Although action plan templates are a good place to start your project management journey, they’re static documents. If you want to take your planning to the next level, you need to use project planning software like ProjectManager.

Because ProjectManager is cloud-based software, you can invite your team into the tool. No matter where they are or when they’re working, as they update their progress it will be instantly reflected on the software’s real-time dashboard, which can filter the information to show only what you want.

Then you can create graphs and charts to make that data easy to read and share with stakeholders or team members, formatting the graphics generally or specifically, depending on the person’s need.

gantt chart action plan template in projectmanager
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As noted earlier, alerts can be created to let team members know when the action plan tasks are near due. Alerts can also be set up so the team leader is aware of those impending due dates or if a task is overdue, which can help them reallocate resources or do other things to get the project back on track.

Other Templates to Help with Your Action Plan

The action plan lays out the course you’ll take to achieve your project goals. Our free project management templates help you start to organize the sequence of steps to get you there. Our site features dozens of free Excel and Word templates you can download, many of which can help you create a better action plan. Here are some of our free templates:

ProjectManager for Executing Projects

If you’re looking to take your action plan template to the next level, look no further than ProjectManager, a cloud-based project management software that has all the planning features you need to create and execute your action plans. From a real-time dashboard to online Gantt charts and dynamic kanban boards, our software supersizes your project management. Try it free with this free 30-day trial.

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