The ICT world is constantly awash with brilliant ideas, plans and initiatives but more often than not only a small portion of them get implemented on time, to their original intent or extent, if at all. This paper looks some ideas for implementation or making it happen.
A well structured action plan is a useful and effective way of organising important
work, but not a magic bullet. Start at the beginning with a strategic or tactical plan
that makes operational sense, is aligned and adequately resourced. Sounds simple but if the plan does not make “operational sense” to all of the stakeholders, was under resourced, does not align with the corporate or business unit strategy from the beginning any action plan to implement the desired activities will be doomed to fail. A good action plan should:
- Support the implementation of your organisation’s mission, strategic plan (if you have one), and highest priority goals.
- Increase efficiency by leading you and your colleagues to complete work using the least amount of time, money, personnel, and resources
- Provide performance accountability, keeps you on track of what you have planned to accomplish, how far along you are, and what you have to do next.
- Finally it allows measurement and evaluation of if you implemented your plan fully and whether it achieved its intended results.
Plan Development Tips
Action plans should not be developed in isolation as they will inevitably require shared or specific resources, as well as co-operation from other individuals or business units with other functional responsibilities within the business (or even external to the business) to be able to be fully implemented.
This will require significant communication and active participation with all of the key stakeholders during the drafting stage to ensure co-operation and sufficient resources required for implementation. If key stakeholders are actively involved early on you are far less likely to run into unexpected resistance when endeavouring to execute.
Therefore development of action plans around a pre-formed template is not a linear process. The following template is a guide to ensure you capture all of the required information, not a step by step process. Be flexible and use it as a generic tool that can be adapted for your specific situation.
Action Plan Template
What is it you want to achieve with this plan? Specifically describe the gap or change this plan will achieve between the current situation and the ideal situation. Describe the purpose of the goal, what will be accomplished, and the desired end result. A visual description of what the results will look like often helps.
Does the goal align with the organisation’s or business unit’s policies? If so state how this plan enhances these policies, values or beliefs.
List 3-5 obstacles you believe may prevent the plan from being implemented. Alongside these list a potential strategy for overcoming each obstacle. This is a key activity to ensure your plan gets fully implemented.
Tasks & Deadlines
An action plan is only a wish list unless the specific tasks are detailed along with who is responsible and the timeframes in which these tasks need to be started and completed.
What resources both internal and external to the organisation are required to implement the plan? Resources are not just physical i.e. time, or skills. Your list should include time, people, space, equipment, financial (include a specific budget) and any other items that are specific to the project.
How will you measure and report on the progress and final outcome of the action plan i.e. your stated goal was achieved in desired the timeframe? You also need to be able to measure any progress milestones, not just the final outcome as well as the effectiveness and efficiency of the progress. Finally it is important to agree on what are the consequences for not achieving a task, and that whoever is assigned a task is well aware of these consequences.
Best Practice Channel Action Planning Guide
Use the various Channel Dynamics tools such as the Channel Sales Performance model, the DynamicDSI™ model as reference points during the plan development process to assist where relevant.
- Ensure you have sufficient resources (physical, skills, etc) to do what and when you will do it, before announcing to the channel
- Plan ahead for the speed bumps and have alternative actions or strategies ready in case they are required.
- Pilot where appropriate to get it right before rolling out across the entire business
- Use Channel Dynamics (or any other appropriate third party) as a bridging team either internally or externally if necessary to assist implementing specific changes or programs for neutrality and credibility
- Communicate with the channel and all internal staff at 10 times more than you think you need to about your plans for change and give ample opportunity for feedback
- Check that any action plan involving the channel has appropriate profitability at all levels of the channel or you will not have the desired level of channel engagement.
- Review regularly, not just at the point of completion to ensure continued relevance and alignment to the original goal