Action Plan Templates: What, Why, How and Examples

By Joe Weller | May 25, 2016 (updated May 22, 2024)

We've compiled free action plan templates for project managers, businesses, strategists, and other teams and individuals. We've included editable templates with example copy to help you get started breaking down your strategy into actionable steps to meet your goals.

Included on this page, you’ll find many helpful action plan templates, such as a business action plan template, a project action plan template, a work action plan template, and more.  Also, get tips for how to use action plan templates.

What Is an Action Plan? 

An action plan is a step-by-step strategy designed to accomplish a specific goal or objective. It outlines the specific actions to be taken, the resources required, the timeline, and the individuals or teams responsible for each task.

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What Is an Action Plan Template? 

An action plan template is a pre-designed format or structure that helps individuals or teams create an action plan. Use an action plan template as a framework to break down project goals into manageable steps, assign responsibilities, and track progress.

How Do I Write an Action Plan? 

To write an action plan, start by defining your project’s overarching goal, then break your goal down into smaller tasks, assign responsibilities, and set timelines for each task. Regularly monitor project progress, and adjust the plan as needed. 

To write an effective action plan, follow these steps:  

  1. Define Your Goal: Clearly state the objective or goal you want to achieve, ensuring it is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). 
  2. Identify Tasks: Break down your goal into smaller, manageable tasks that are necessary to achieve the overall objective.
  3. Set Timelines: Establish deadlines for each task, and determine the overall timeline for accomplishing the goal.
  4. Identify Resources: Determine the resources required to complete each task effectively, such as tools, equipment, and personnel.
  5. Assign Responsibility: Allocate responsibility for each task to a specific individual, team, or department.
  6. Download an Action Plan Template: Use an action plan template to organize tasks, set priorities, and track progress towards your goal. Download an editable action plan template to assist you in creating your action plan.
  7. Monitor Progress: Regularly monitor the progress made towards the goal and make necessary adjustments to the action plan.
  8. Measure Success: Define key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure progress towards the goal.

Types of Action Plan Templates

There are several types of action plan templates available, all designed to assist individuals or teams in developing a structured plan of action to achieve goals or objectives. Pick the template that best aligns with your organization’s needs.

Explore these action plan templates to find the one that best fits your current project or goal: 

  • Action Item Templates: Use an action item template when you need to keep track of specific tasks, responsibilities, and deadlines that are essential to completing a project or achieving a goal. These templates include a structured format for progress tracking, accountability assurance, and resource management.
  • Corrective Action Plan Templates: Employ a corrective action plan template to diagnose and remedy issues or problems encountered during a project or within a business process. These templates aid in promptly and effectively resolving issues, diminishing the risk of future complications, and enhancing overall performance.
  • Performance Improvement Plan Templates: Consider a performance improvement plan (PIP) template to guide underperforming employees in enhancing their work performance. A PIP template helps employees concentrate on particular improvement areas, while managers can provide support and guidance to facilitate better performance.
  • Mutual Action Plan Templates: Use a mutual action plan template to encourage collaboration and consensus among individuals or teams with a shared goal. These templates offer a structured format for detailing specific tasks, timelines, and resources needed from each party, assigning responsibility, and tracking progress towards the shared goal.
  • Marketing Action Plan Templates: Utilize a marketing action plan template when creating a comprehensive plan to reach marketing goals and objectives. These templates provide a structured format for detailing marketing strategies, tactics, timelines, and resources necessary to achieve these goals.
  • Microsoft Word Action Plan Templates: A Microsoft Word action plan template is ideal when creating a customizable plan to achieve a particular goal or objective. This type of template saves time and effort by providing a pre-designed format that can be modified to meet individual needs and specifications.
  • Excel Action Plan Templates: Implement an Excel action plan template to organize and track tasks, timelines, and resources. These templates can assist individuals or teams in overseeing progress towards their goal, adjusting timelines and resources, and ensuring the plan remains on track.

Parts of an Action Plan

A comprehensive action plan should include a clear goal, a breakdown of tasks, a timeline for completion, identification of resources and responsible parties, monitoring and evaluation plans, risk management strategies, and key performance indicators (KPIs). 

Although the specific parts may vary depending on the goal or objective at hand, an action plan typically consists of the following eight components:

  • Goal or Objective: Write a clear and specific statement of the goal or objective to be achieved. 
  • Tasks or Actions: Break down the goal into specific tasks or actions required to achieve the goal.
  • Timeline: Create a timeline or schedule for completing each task or action and for achieving the overall goal.
  • Resources: Identify the resources needed to complete each task, including personnel, materials, and equipment.
  • Responsibility: Assign responsibility for each task to a specific person or team.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Develop a plan for monitoring progress towards the goal and evaluating the effectiveness of the action plan.
  • Risks and Challenges: Identify potential risks and challenges that may impact the successful completion of the action plan, and devise strategies for managing them.
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Establish specific metrics to measure progress towards the goal and evaluate the success of the action plan.

By including these components in an action plan, individuals and teams can ensure that their action plans are comprehensive, well-structured, and actionable.

Creating an Effective Action Plan

The best action plans are clear, specific, and flexible enough to accommodate changes. They should serve as a roadmap to help everyone involved in the project understand what needs to be done, who is responsible, and when tasks are expected to be completed.

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you begin to draft your action plan: 

  • Set an Feasible Goal: Start by selecting an achievable goal and clearly defining your objective. Balance its significance with feasibility, considering the timeframe and resources available to you.
  • Brainstorm With Your Team: Engage your team when creating your action plan. Brainstorming can lead to a robust plan of action. In some cases, you might find valuable input comes from outside the immediate team.
  • Opt for Concrete Action Steps: Opt for action steps that are concrete, measurable, and attainable. Aim for well-defined steps instead of vague notions.
  • Assign Responsibilities Clearly: Determine who is responsible for each action step and who will provide support. While supporters assist in the process, they are not responsible for the final outcome of an action step.
  • Set a Clear Schedule: Establish a clear schedule for completing each action step. Whether your ultimate goal is a short-term project or a multi-year endeavor, breaking down the timeline for each milestone is crucial.
  • List Necessary Resources: Document all resources needed to complete your action steps. If you lack sufficient resources, include a strategy for their procurement.
  • Regularly Review Your Plan: As your action plan unfolds, review and update it regularly. Make necessary adjustments based on the tracking of your plan's progress.
  • Keep Key Stakeholders Informed: Communicate with key stakeholders about the plan's progress and its impacts as it progresses. Clear communication ensures everyone stays aligned and informed.

Simple Action Plan Template

Simple Action Plan Example Template

Download a Sample Simple Action Plan Template for 
Excel  |  Microsoft Word  | Smartsheet

Download a Blank Simple Action Plan Template for 
Excel  |  Microsoft Word  | Smartsheet

This action plan template includes sections to plan for four goals, with the option to add more. Each goal further divides into action steps where teams can assign both a priority and a completion status to track progress. Include start and end dates for each action, along with any relevant notes. This template is suitable for various uses including project management, event planning, and achieving business goals.

Business Action Plan Template

Business Action Plan Example Template

Download a Sample Business Action Plan Template for 
Excel  |  Microsoft Word  | Smartsheet

Download a Blank Business Action Plan Template for 
Excel  |  Microsoft Word  | Smartsheet

This action plan template can be used as a supporting tool to reach the goals in a business or marketing plan. The goal is clearly stated at the top of the template followed by action steps below. This template provides sections to record necessary resources, potential challenges and final results. The final result of an action item could simply be a successful completion, or new steps may have been identified in the process. An action plan may have to be adaptive in order to reach business goals.

Project Action Plan Template for Word

Project Action Plan Example Template

Download a Sample Project Action Plan Template for 
Excel  |  Microsoft Word  | Google Docs | Google Sheets | Smartsheet

Download a Blank Project Action Plan Template for 
Excel  |  Microsoft Word  | Google Docs | Google Sheets | Smartsheet

Keep your project on schedule and evaluate its progress with this project action plan template. The template breaks down goals into separate sections along with their associated action steps. The timeline, expected outcome, ownership and evaluation methodology can be recorded for each action step. Save the project template as a PDF and print for easy sharing with a team.

Work Action Plan Template

Work Action Plan Template

Download a Work Action Plan Template for
Excel  |  Microsoft Word  | Smartsheet

Implement this detailed work action plan template to help ensure success in your improvement efforts. The template allows you to clearly outline each step of your work action plan along with important data. What resources are available or needed? Where are there points of resistance that need to be dealt with? What is your communications plan for each step? Including all of these factors in your action plan will help implementation go smoothly.

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