An action plan is different from most other plans in that it has built-in deliverables with deadlines. An action plan implies going beyond just planning to getting your plan done!

* Document at a high level or big picture what factors or strategies are necessary to achieve these goals and what items are risks, issues, potential delays and distractions which could sidetrack the team. Developing an action plan means establishing and clarifying goals. Keep in mind that these goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based).

* Next, assign a task owner or team leader to be accountable, responsible and delegate to other team members.

* Make a list of "To Do's" or action steps to check off as completed.

* Determine priorities - some steps are more important that others and should be ordered accordingly. Ask yourself "What do I have to do TODAY?"

* Collaborate by scheduling short, informal stand-up meetings, or document comments online from remote locations, to check in and review the progress or bottlenecks of the work before larger problems occur due to oversight, neglect or procrastination.

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1. Scope out the big picture

- Write a general summary of what you want to accomplish with objectives, budget, time, assumptions, definitions, potential risks and issues that may arise and tie it to a goal. Make sure you write the pros and cons so you know where to focus downstream.

Ineffective goal example: Increase revenue

Effective goal example: Analyze lead generation metrics to determine revenue stream winners and losers in the marketing segmentation strategy. Then, focus only on the highest conversion percentages with the lowest costs and have John Smith prepare a summary and report in the next 90 days to determine results.

Ineffective risk example: Scope might creep

Effective risk example: The project deadline is due in 14 days however, management is considering tabling the project due to new design rules that have been submitted and approved after the sign-off deadline. Dedicated staff resources may be pulled away and re-assigned prior to the projected deadline.

2. Break out the smaller tasks

- More specifically, assign tasks to yourself or a team member pieces of the project that will support how you will achieve your goal. In this assignment make sure to think proactively about the timeline and deadlines of the overall project in terms of allocating resources.

3. Create a list of action steps

- For each task, there should be a list of to-dos ranked in sequential order. Make sure this list can be changed, shared, re-ordered and deleted if there are redundancies.

4. Prioritize relative importance

- Some steps are more important that others. Based on days to deadline, task and action step importance, and number of steps remaining, a master list is generated automatically to guide workflow process.

5. Collaborate and translate

- Effective action plans require clear input and clarification from teammates.

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