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Action Planning,Introduction,Who should use it and when. Welcome to this toolkit It is an extension of the brief introduction to action planning in the. toolkit Overview of Planning,Why have a detailed toolkit on action planning. Action planning is the planning that guides your day to day work Without a strategic. framework you don t know where you are going or why you are going there And then it. doesn t really matter how you get there But without an action plan it is likely that the. strategic plan will remain a grand dream and you won t get there anyway This toolkit aims. to help you do detailed useful action planning and takes the user through a process that. could be replicated in an organisation or project, The toolkit that deals with an Overview of Planning will help you to see how action planning. fits into the overall planning process The toolkit on strategic planning will help you prepare. for action planning The toolkit on monitoring and evaluation will help you to expand on the. process of monitoring and evaluation once you have carried out your activities Good action. planning located within a clear strategic framework helps your project or organisation to. make a significant impact,Who should use this toolkit. This toolkit is for those who have had only limited experience in planning or in action. planning Perhaps you have not been involved in running an organisation project or. department before Or perhaps you have not been involved in the planning side of the work. before Our experience is that many organisations and projects are actually very good at. action planning once they know what needs to be done they can plan to do it Problems. arise when this planning is not located within a strategic framework and the organisation or. project keeps doing without thinking strategically For those of you who are still unsure of. how to plan your activities or feel unsure that you are doing it right this toolkit should be. When will this toolkit be useful, When you need to plan operationally on the basis of a strategic planning process.
and to make a distinction between strategic planning and operational or action. When you need some ideas to help you develop an action planning process. When you are ready to move a new organisation or project from the strategic. planning phase to the operational phase, When you feel you need to review your operational plans because for example your. strategy has changed, Action Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro email toolkits civicus org 2. Action Planning, OVERVIEW BASIC PRINCIPLES BEST PRACTICE RESOURCES GLOSSARY OF. Pages 1 2 Pages 4 47 Pages 48 49 Page 50 TERMS Page51. Completed example of basic,action planning model, What is action Before you Planning activities Implementation Monitoring. planning Page4 begin Page7 step by step Page14 Page 37 Page 44. Outputs p 4 What must be in What must we achieve p 17. The workplan p 37 Collecting,What steps does it involve information as.
Human you go along,p 19 Individual plans p 38,Resourcing Who should be p 45. plan p 5 involved p 8 Role of management,When must steps happen p 43. Timing p 5 Preparatory work p 22,Resourcing p 6 Who will be responsible p 27. The agenda p 13,What inputs resources are,needed p 31. From action plan to business, Action Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro email toolkits civicus org 3.
Action Planning,BASIC PRINCIPLES,What is action planning. Action planning is the process that guides the day to day activities of an organisation or. project It is the process of planning what needs to be done when it needs to be done by. whom it needs to be done and what resources or inputs are needed to do it It is the. process of operationalising your strategic objectives That is why it is also called operational. planning When an action plan or an operational plan are presented as the basis for a. funding proposal or for a loan application or to get others to buy into a process or project in. some way they are often referred to as business plans See the section later in this. toolkit From Action Plan to Business Plan, Most action plans consist of the following elements. a statement of what must be achieved the outputs or result areas that come out of. the strategic planning process, a spelling out of the steps that have to be followed to reach this objective. some kind of time schedule for when each step must take place and how long it is. likely to take when, a clarification of who will be responsible for making sure that each step is. successfully completed who, a clarification of the inputs resources that are needed.
All of these are dealt with again in planning activities step by step If you go through an. action planning process then you should end up with a practical plan to enable you to. resource and carry forward the steps needed to achieve your objective s and contribute to. your long term goal, Outputs are those things which show that activities have successfully taken place They. are the results of the activities So for example if an activity is to organise for tertiary. insitutions to hold an open day in your area then the output would be a well attended. open day Outputs are the what that must come out of activities if a result area is to be. achieved and the strategic plan is to be successful All the outputs together should lead. to the achievement of the key result area at which they are aimed e g better qualified. The key result areas of your strategic plan become the goals of your action planning It. is useful to summarise the expected outputs for the period for which you are planning in. an outputs summary This provides you with a quick progress checklist a set of. indicators against which to test the question Are we getting through the activities we. have planned and are they producing the outputs we anticipated It also provides a. good basis for progress reports to donors, Action Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro email toolkits civicus org 4. Action Planning,HUMAN RESOURCING PLAN, When you prepare your action plan it can be useful to develop a human resourcing plan. based on it This is a summary of what you will need in human resource terms to carry. out the planned activities In this plan you can include. staffing needs already addressed additional staff or support required. capacity building needs in order to enable staff to carry out activities. Again this provides a useful summary and will help you to work out a time frame for the. planned activities Clearly if you need to build capacity or employ additional staff. before you can carry out an activity this will affect your scheduling. It also provides a useful summary of the implications of your action plan at the human. resourcing level This will help you to operationalise your plans and will be a useful. reference point for donors, There are two aspects to timing in action planning. When to do it and, How to plan the time needed to carry out your activities.
You need to do action planning as an extension of your strategic planning process But. you also need to do it regularly in between strategic planning processes and reviews. Action planning is something you do whenever you know what you want to achieve and. you need a plan to spell out the activities required to achieve it You may need to plan. for a particular workshop or plan for the work of a department over the next three. months or do an overall action plan for a project or organisation for the year It is not. usually a good idea to do detailed action planning for more than a year in advance. Changes in context in strategy in assumptions may require changes in what you. actually do in the longer term, When it comes to planning the time needed the key is usually sequencing doing. things in the right order and making sure that you don t get held up because something. that should have been done earlier hasn t been done and is now holding up the whole. process So for example it is best to book the venue for a workshop before you send. out invitations and it is best to get the illustrations for a publication done before you take. it to the printer Don t leave consultation with a community until after you have decided. what you are going to do in the community and don t begin building a dam until you. have had the engineer s reports, You will find more about planning your time under Planning Activities Step by Step later. in this toolkit When you have completed your action planning process it is useful to do. a summary of your time plan as a checklist for you and for other stakeholders such as. donors or beneficiaries This will enable you to see at a glance when your busiest. periods are likely to be and to prepare for them in advance In the section on Planning. Activities Step by Step when must steps happen we suggest a way to summarise. activities and time frames, Action Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro email toolkits civicus org 5. Action Planning,RESOURCING, The resources you need to carry out an action plan include. What all this usually means is money Your budget will summarise the financing. resources that you need in order to carry out your action plan You cannot prepare a. budget until you have an action plan See also the toolkit on Budgeting. In summary then action planning is the process in which you plan what will happen in. the project or organisation in a given period of time and clarify what resources are. needed to make it possible, Action Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro email toolkits civicus org 6.
Action Planning,Before you begin, Before you can begin the action planning process certain things need to be in place Most. importantly you need to have worked through a strategic planning process so that your. action planning does not take place in a vacuum without a framework It is not enough to do. something because it seems like a good idea Your doing must be related to a clear. strategy aimed at helping you achieve long term goals and objectives. WHAT MUST BE IN PLACE, You can do action planning simply as a way of getting through tasks that need to be. done But you shouldn t Action planning should follow on from strategic planning and. should be related to a strategic framework or context When action planning happens. outside of a strategic framework it tends to be a hit and miss affair you might do. something useful but then again you might not, Before you begin an action planning process the strategic framework for the work of. your organisation or project should be in place This includes. A clear vision of the kind of society you are working towards and a clear. understanding of the problems that are standing in the way of such a society being. A set of values that express what you believe in and are the basis for what you are. trying to achieve These provide guidelines for how you work. A clear mission statement that states what your project or organisation does how it. does it for whose benefit and where appropriate and in partnership with whom. An overall goal that rephrases the specific problems you are attempting to address. as being a positive situation that you are working to achieve. An immediate objective or project purpose that expresses what you as an. organisation or project intend to achieve in the short to medium term as your. contribution to the overall goal, Key result areas which give shape to your strategy for achieving your immediate. objectives, With all these strategic elements in place you are well set for an action planning process.
that will operationalise your strategy, For more on the strategic framework see the toolkit on Strategic Planning. Action Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro email toolkits civicus org 7. Action Planning,WHO SHOULD BE INVOLVED, Who should be involved in an action planning process. For a breakdown of who should be involved at different stages across the planning. spectrum see the toolkit Overview of Planning Who Plans The two key questions. Who should participate in the action planning process and. Who if anyone should facilitate it,Who should attend. Once the strategic options and goals have been decided usually by the professional. staff and Board and agreement has been reached on how to organise the work. planning can be done in functional teams These might be departments or units or. projects or matrix across functions teams See also Glossary of Terms. Firstly the professional staff involved should clarify the implications of the immediate. objective s and the result areas where they need to make a contribution Then the. full operational team including administrative staff involved should do the action. Why is it important to include all staff at this stage. The more informed administrative staff are about the activities of the professional. staff with whom they work the more likely they are to do a good job Think for. example of the project adminstrator who often has to deal with stakeholders on the. telephone or to deal with crises while professional staff are out in the field The. more s he knows about the work the more helpful s he is likely to be. At another level in order for project activities to take place an enormous amount of. logistical support is needed In order for administrative staff to provide this support. efficiently and effectively they need to have an understanding of what activities are. involved and how they fit into the bigger picture Implementation is a joint effort. between professional and administrative staff,Do you need an external facilitator. Usually it is possible to do your action planning without an external facilitator. although you should never be afraid to ask for outside input or technical input if you. think it is necessary Provided you answer the key questions posed in the section on. Planning Activities Step by Step you probably do not need an external facilitator. However if you have had problems with action planning in the past then you may. need to bring someone in to prevent the following from happening. Action Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro email toolkits civicus org 8. Action Planning,planning to do too much in too short a time.
not planning your activities in enough detail, not working out time lines to make sure that your sequencing and scheduling. makes sense, not making it absolutely clear who has responsibility and authority for making. sure that all the steps get done, not thinking through the resourcing implications rigorously see Glossary of. Once teams departments units projects have done their action planning it is possible. for individuals to do their own planning and they should do this with support from. management, Action Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro email toolkits civicus org 9. Action Planning,PREPARATORY WORK, The review preparatory work that needs to be done before the action planning process.
focuses specifically on efficiency and effectiveness. Efficiency is about financial human time and material resources invested in activities. Effectiveness is about doing what you say you will do and what you planned to do. In preparation for action planning it is useful to review your previous record on efficiency. and effectiveness and to look at ways in which you can improve your efficiency and. effectiveness, On the next page you will find a questionnaire you could use in preparation for an action. planning process to help you identify ways of improving your efficiency and. effectiveness,Getting the facts, It may also be necessary for a team department project to make some factual enquiries. before it meets to do its action planning So for example the following key result area. may have been defined during the strategic planning process. All underqualified teachers upgrade qualifications in their subjects. A matrix team see Glossary of Terms has been put in place to achieve the result. Before planning the activities necessary the team decides it needs information about. tertiary insitutions that offer distance learning courses in the area. which subject areas are likely to be the most needed. what has prevented teachers from getting degrees in the past. how much on average courses of this kind are likely to cost. The team delegates the task of finding the answers to these questions to certain. members of the team and agrees to meet a week later to plan activities based on this. information and on what they want to achieve, The question to pose here before the action planning is. Do we need additional information in order to plan. Action Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro email toolkits civicus org 10. Action Planning,PREPARATORY WORK FOR AN ACTION PLANNING PROCESS. DEPARTMENTAL TEAM PROJECT, The purpose of this questionnaire is to help you plan your future activities better by building.
on what has gone wrong or right in the past, Working with others in your department team project answer the following questions in. relation to an activity that was central to your work in the past. 1 What result were we trying to achieve, 2 What activities did we plan in order to achieve it. 3 Did we achieve the planned result,4 If not why not. 5 Did the activities make sense in terms of what we were trying to achieve. 6 Could we have achieved the same result at less cost spending less time using fewer. resources with less strain on the project or organisation. 7 What would we do differently in future, Action Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro email toolkits civicus org 11. Action Planning,8 What have we learned from this analysis.
It is useful to do this kind of review after every main set of activities e g organising a. conference publishing a book running a series of training courses etc In so doing. you test your action planning constantly instead of only once a year. Action Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro email toolkits civicus org 12. Action Planning,THE AGENDA, Planning an agenda for an action planning process is very different from planning an. agenda for a strategic planning process In a strategic planning process it is important to. take people through a strategic thinking exercise which helps them focus on the big. picture In an action planning process the focus is on the detail on making sure that. things happen as they are supposed to and when they are supposed to Often. organisations or projects make the mistake of trying to do their action planning at the. same time as they do their strategic planning Usually if you do the strategic planning. properly there isn t time to focus on the detail of the action planning and it is better to do. it afterwards in the relevant structure team department project. The kind of detail required in proper action planning is very different from the strategic. thinking of the bigger process The results that need to be achieved must be clearly. stated during the strategic planning process and the broad responsibility for achieving. the results must be assigned to the right structure within the organisation The actual. planning should be done by the relevant team project department at a time agreed by. those involved and within deadlines set by management Depending on how complex. the result area is the time needed for the planning may be shorter or longer It is up to. the structure to decide how much time will be needed and to set aside the time required. Management should set a deadline by when action plans must be submitted. TYPICAL AGENDA FOR ACTION PLANNING PROCESS, 1 Clarify the result areas on which you will be working. 2 For each result area list the steps necessary to achieve it. 3 Sequence the steps in a logical order using a tool such as the Gantt Chart see under. When Must Steps Happen later in this toolkit,4 Do a summary of the outputs. 5 Assign responsibility for each of the activities involved. 6 Do a summary of the human resourcing needs,7 Do a summary of likely costs. 8 Put it all together in a workplan schedule See the section on the Workplan later in. this toolkit, Action Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro email toolkits civicus org 13.
Action Planning,Planning Activities Step by Step, Activities are the steps that you need to take in order to get the results which will contribute. to the achievement of the organisation s or project s goals and objectives. So the starting point is what you want to achieve the desired result and this then gets. broken down into the steps required to achieve the result These steps need to be put in a. logical sequence and someone must take responsibility for making sure they happen The. organisation or project also needs to be sure that it has the resources or inputs it needs to. carry out the steps involved, We also include a sub section on turning an action plan or list of activities into a business. plan from Action Plan to Business Plan which can be used to bring other stakeholders on. In this section we use a basic table to help you build up your action plan The model is on. the next page, Action Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro email toolkits civicus org 14. Action Planning,BASIC MODEL FOR BUILDING UP YOUR ACTION PLAN. Result Area, Activities Time frame begin by complete Person responsible Costs inputs.
Action Planning Toolkit by Janet Shapiro email toolkits civicus org 15.


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