Project action plans are particularly useful when dealing with a complex project, as many individuals and groups will be involved through the project timeline, more so than with a traditional project. With this many involved parties, project managers must understand the extent of involvement and how to use resources and parties most effectively is essential to project success.
Project action plans can either target direct stakeholders (e.g. attempts to change legislation to allow flexibility/innovation on a project) or a general focus (e.g. a public relations plan to increase project assistance and support among all stakeholders).
Inputs to consider for developing effective project action plans will stem from a complexity analysis, the project’s critical success factors, and the allocation of resources. A Project action plan should occur throughout the project development phases as they fit the timeline. The project team should start developing these plans as close to the initial project stages and continue to take action steps throughout the project timeline.
These inputs are used to recognize where potential threats to project stoppage are ‘roadblocks’, as well as which factors may slow the project ‘speed bumps’. Most speed bumps can be handled through by identifying ways to manage resource limits. However, roadblocks require innovation to get around.
Frequent roadblocks and speed bumps include legal restrictions, utilities, environmental restrictions, local community and many more. In order to prepare for these speed bumps and roadblocks, the project manager and project team should clearly understand the constraints of the entire project, the project success factors, the capabilities of the project team and the financial abilities of the project.
The most complex areas of the project should usually be analyzed first to understand the demands of the action plans, and project managers should analyze from top to bottom in regards to complexity most complex to least complex.
The end goal of this process is to develop innovative solutions to resolve (and potentially eliminate) project roadblocks and speed bumps. The biggest challenge to this step is the focus on issues that cannot be resolved with the current resources and plans in place.
One of the main outcomes of project action planning is selecting project tools that will aid in project success. Additionally, earlier steps in the project may be altered within the project plan as a result of targeted plans. The project manager is also responsible for determining project plan needs and the project outline for the general project timeline.
Preparation of Project Action Plans:
Each organization will have their own unique project action plan process that will address topics such as potential constraints and barriers to administration, varying perspectives on planning, scope and programming. Each organization should mold this approach to their specific industry and business to create the plan with the most project coverage and specification.
Below are the different levels of project action preparedness that most organizations will classify under:
Novice – project action plans are not considered at any phase of the project
Above Novice – Project manager and team use their own judgment on the project action plan, or will consider hiring a subject matter expert.
In Between with Buy-in – The project team will develop their own project action plan, but this plan tends to be more case-to-case than applicable to all; often not a well-defined plan
Some Maturity/Experience – There is a standard, written process or tool used by the project manager/team for developing project action plans
Mature – A system is in place for feedback and results by collecting data and information after the project is complete in order to continually improve the existing system.