Practical Application: Action Plans

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

An action plan is a written document that outlines the steps necessary to reach an organizational goal. In this lesson, you'll find a template for implementing an action plan inside your own business.

Taking Action

An action plan is a document detailing the steps necessary for a business to reach its goal or objective. If a business determines to reduce the amount of waste it creates, an action plan would outline the strategy required to get there.

Most action plans acknowledge the organizational goal and then follow a similar format that answers these questions:

  1. What actions are necessary to get us to our goal?
  2. Who is responsible for carrying out each action?
  3. What is the timeline or deadline for completing each action?
  4. What resources are available or necessary to complete each action?
  5. What obstacles or barriers might conflict with completing each action?
  6. How will we communicate about each action step toward our goal?

Now, let's walk through a template to help you put an action plan in place.

Action Plan Template

action, plan

Take a look at this template. Before anything else, you must first determine what your goal is. Let's continue with our fictional business' goal of reducing its waste and look at each of the column titles in more detail.


Next, you want to decide what action steps are necessary to move you toward your goal. Action steps for this goal might include contacting the city about what recycling options are available or looking at each department to see what types of recycling could be done internally.

Questions To Ask

  1. What steps do we need to take?
  2. Which steps are priority?
  3. What sequence should we use with these tasks?


Who is going to be responsible for handling each step of your action plan? In our waste-reduction scenario, someone who has a connection with a city official might be the best choice to contact city hall, while department heads would be a good choice for each department assessing its recycling capabilities.

Questions To Ask

  1. Who is best suited to handle this role?
  2. What strengths/weaknesses does this person bring to the plan?
  3. Is there a better candidate for this step?


Once you have the steps recorded and who will handle each one, it's time to see a timeline or deadline for each. A step like reaching out to a city official about its recycling program may only take one business day, for example.

Questions to Ask

  1. Does this step rely on the completion of any others?
  2. How much time will this step reasonably take?
  3. What happens if there is a delay in this step being completed?

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