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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 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.

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 can 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 Template?

An action plan template is a tool that helps project managers visualize the steps to take for the successful completion of a project. Those action steps are further broken down into subtasks known as action items. ProjectManager’s action plan template for Excel helps you organize these elements on a spreadsheet.

A project action plan template is an important project planning tool because it also 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 ensures that you don’t neglect critical tasks along the way. Action plan templates facilitate the project planning process because they include all the essential fields for an action plan.

It’d 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. An action plan tells you who is doing what, by when and with which resources.

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 action plan is also helpful. It avoids jargon so your team members can clearly understand its purpose.

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 to 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 Should Use an Action Plan Template?

Project managers are usually 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 the final say and will have the authority to update it as plans change.

When Should You Use an Action Plan Template?

You should use an action plan format whenever you need to plan simple projects, manage your personal or team’s work, implement initiatives in your organization and other similar purposes. Action plan templates are meant to facilitate the execution of work by helping leaders and team members better understand the different tasks to be completed.

For larger projects, it’s advised to use project management software like ProjectManager, so you can plan with Gantt charts, kanban boards, task lists, project calendars and more.

How to Use This Free Action Plan Template for Excel

Our action plan template for Excel is broken down into three sections. One for listing action steps, one for building a timeline, and one to identify resource requirements.

1. List Your Action Steps and Action Items

As mentioned above, action steps are made up of tasks, or action items. The first part of this action plan template lets you list the action items for each action step, as well as task status, assignee and the phase it which it belongs.

  • Priority: Each task will have a priority attached to it. That is, it’ll be determined if the task is a high, medium or low priority, which helps 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’ll 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’ll then be responsible for seeing the task through to completion.
  • Status: Here’s 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.
ProjectManager's free Excel action plan template showing action steps

2. Estimate Time for Each Task

Once you’ve mapped out your action steps and action items, you can start assigning a start date and end date to each task and estimate their durations. This information will be needed to create a 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.
ProjectManager's free action plan template for Excel showing task due dates

3. Identify Resource Requirements

Here you can list the resource requirements for each task. Simply estimate what resources will be needed and estimate a cost for them. There’s also a field to indicate which department is in charge of each action item.

  • 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.
ProjectManager's free action plan template for Excel showing resource requirements for a plan

How to Create an Action Plan 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 online software, you can invite your team to 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, 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.

What Other Project Management Templates Can 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:

Action Items Template

This free action items template is ideal to zoom into the tasks that make up your action plan. It’s a simple document that lets teams track their work.

Project Plan Template

Action plans are a great way to manage work. However, if you need to manage projects, our free project plan template is a great starting point to document all the different aspects of a project.

Gantt Chart Template

Gantt charts are the most popular project management tool because they turn plans into dynamic project schedules. Use our free Gantt chart template to create a visual timeline for your action plan.

Action Plans Tutorial Video

For more information on how to create and manage an action plan, watch the video below. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, gives you a number of crucial tips that can help you get the most out of your action plan template.

Related Content

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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