Steps To Developing An Action Plan – This chapter provides a step-by-step guide to developing an action plan to build capacity to respond to changing forces, needs, and strategies.
4. Determining the set and sequence of priorities and strategies that will achieve the vision;
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Steps To Developing An Action Plan
6. Monitor and adjust the approach as necessary to achieve the goal and create a basis for further action plans.
Personal Action Plan
This action planning process can be simplified, expanded or modified to meet the needs of an organization and fit into existing processes – the guidelines in this section are intended as a starting point.
Begin a capacity building action plan by defining the scope of the effort, setting priorities, deciding why additional capacity is needed and how much to accomplish at once.
An action plan should be initiated by senior management at the point where capacity building is required. At this stage it is important to know what motivates the desire for change. Perhaps a different force of change created a capacity gap that would propel the effort forward.
For example, federal planning requirements force an organization to implement a new approach to project prioritization. The organization recognizes that it does not have the processes or capabilities in place to perform some of the tasks required to perform this new function effectively and efficiently. Organizational leadership knows that they must conduct predictive scenarios, make program adjustments based on their performance, and work across departments to obtain the information necessary to make decisions.
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On the other hand, maybe an organization already has a big idea of how to proceed. Perhaps the organization has begun to focus on a different strategy:
Perhaps leadership in an organization sets strategic goals for improving information and information sharing about the organization. Leadership has a long-term goal of implementing organizational changes that facilitate data sharing and ultimately make agency data widely accessible across systems, fields, and regions. In the short term, the organization wants to implement information management to develop principles for collecting, storing and sharing information.
Knowing what the capacity building need is helps to develop the initial scope of the effort and to understand the current capacity situation to determine where the organization is at.
If the force of change is driving the need for change, it will take a lot of work to align with the organization’s existing strategy.
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Regardless of the desire to build capacity, by the end of this phase the organization should have a shared understanding that there is a capacity gap and an action plan is needed to formalize the process.
An action plan can be implemented for small changes or large impacts on an existing organization, culture, or strategy. Two ways of action plan for capacity building:
Some considerations for deciding whether to use the incremental or incremental method are shown in the table below.
Sometimes it is better to use the incremental method when there is a high risk of making mass structural or strategic changes in the organization. For example, a DOT operating in a very tight financial environment may not be the best place to undertake a transformational action plan to realign functional areas and focus on disruptive technologies over major infrastructure investments. On the other hand, they may benefit from establishing a task force or small unit within the organization that focuses on developing innovation and efficiency capabilities.
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An incremental approach can often be achieved with a small set of staff and resources, and building a foundation for incremental, iterative implementation can make a big difference over time.
When the capability building effort is critical to the organization and the likelihood of systemic changes is low, a transformational approach may be appropriate. For example, a State DOT that experiences a serious security breach involving employee personal data may undertake an agency-wide data management effort to assess and mitigate system disruption and data loss and build capacity to protect data for the future. This approach requires mobilizing large numbers of employees and coordinating multiple business areas. In addition, it cannot be achieved without active project management and leadership support. These topics are covered in more detail in Step 5 of this chapter.
• What strategies are in place to support our chosen needs and the capacity(s) that need to be built?
What is in the scope of the project? What business goals will this project achieve? What forces of change and/or organizational needs does it address? What methods are used? What skills do you add? This will be checked in later action plans. If this project includes a charter, the scope statement should be consistent with the scope/problem statement in the charter.
Plan Development Process
Note: Describes high-level project deliverables, inputs, processes, outputs, outcomes, customers. For example, “developing processes to manage and control knowledge in an organization. This covers knowledge sources and types, ownership, knowledge life cycle, knowledge sharing and knowledge recipients.”
Note: How do we know the project was successful? This may include performance metrics if known. This section will be explored in the next action plan.
Note: For example, whether the scope is local or agency-wide, assumptions about resource availability, and other internal and external factors can affect success. If assumptions are wrong, assumptions need to be tested and acted upon.
Note: What is “not” part of an initiative? For example, if the scope is local, the scope does not extend to other areas or activities of the entire organization.
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The first step in building a shared vision is to clearly understand the end goal in relation to the scope established in step 1 – define the scope. A shared vision provides focus and motivation for stakeholders to understand and embrace:
Understanding the expected outcome informs the “what” of the expected destination, but not the “how,” i.e., what the journey to get there will look like. An example of a supporting strategic plan statement is the Arkansas DOT’s information management vision to “ensure that all stakeholders have access to consistent information to streamline business processes and decision making.”
This is a step to ensure that the action plan is aligned and not in conflict with other strategic plans, initiatives, goals and objectives. The time frame of the expected result should be consistent with other strategic goals and help to implement them. This step is the time to think and consider the elements of the action plan to establish the skills, resources, processes and tools to achieve the goal.
An example of this step is a state DOT with a five-year plan performance goal of 10 percent improvement by 2024. It’s a result of limitations in how employees can perform predictive analytics and share information between systems. Although the data is available, the agency always bases its performance evaluation on post-project results. In this example, the organization develops a vision to establish a data management effort to integrate data and establish a standard process to link goal setting to the outcomes of all future projects.
Steps To Develop An Action Plan For Your Goals (plus, Free Printable!)
Another important part of this step is to develop performance measures that will be used to communicate the vision. This helps focus efforts by determining how success will be measured and how the activities in the action plan will be coordinated between functional areas within the organization and externally.
In the first example, DOT could set a goal of installing a data management structure by July 1, 2020, and conduct predictive analytics on 75 percent of its projects in the first year. The agency plans to achieve 60 percent of project results in the first year.
• Use lead and follow-up actions to communicate your vision, validate your approach, demonstrate success, and adjust your approach along the way.
• Make sure your measurements are accurate and reliable before using them to inform your observations or results.
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• Measure in a vacuum – Engage your stakeholders so they have skin in the game and interpret the results from their perspective.
• Remember that performance measures reflect facts but cannot replace the human judgment used to create value.
What is our expected result in terms of our ability? How does this relate to other strategic initiatives, including timelines? This is a living document – update as new information becomes available
Note: A leader responsible for supporting the implementation team and removing obstacles to ensure a successful project
Next Steps & Future Cycles: Developing An Action
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