How to Implement an Operational Action Plan
By CHRIS HOTHAM
An Operational Action Plan (OAP) is a straightforward blueprint that details how an organization will achieve long-term strategic goals. It specifies how finances, employees, and other resources will be utilized on a day-to-day basis, while also mapping interim target objectives. The OAP is designed to support the organization’s strategic plan, providing actionable items that are carried out daily, weekly, or monthly. It is typically developed for use over a one-year time frame, and the OAP for one year may differ significantly from another year. To be clear, the OAP supports the company’s strategic plan, which defines goals generally set for 3-5 years or longer.
When creating an OAP, choose measurable objectives. For example, you may have a goal of cross-training 100 percent of your office staff cross-trained to handle both reservations and dispatch. If you have 10 employees total, with five each working in their respective departments, you may decide that each month of the next year one employee will be cross-trained. During their training months, individual employees should be assigned specific tasks to increase their knowledge as well as test their skills. In addition, time should be scheduled for employee feedback. In this particular example, the 10-month timeline would allow for any scheduling challenges and additional training, if necessary. Document all steps of the process, and use real-time feedback to improve your outcomes as you progress. To easily organize this method, think about:
WHAT – the goal, and the tasks that must be completed to achieve it
WHO – the employees who will be involved in completing said tasks
WHEN – schedule dates that individual tasks are to be completed
HOW MUCH – amount of time and/or financial resources to be used
In addition, you should always consider the “WHY” as it applies to each of the four questions, and discuss the reasons for implementing change with your entire team.
So, expanding on the example above, now ask:
WHY do we want office staff to be cross-trained?
WHY are these specific people involved? And what are their roles?
WHY are we scheduling this weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.?
WHY is this change worth the time and/or financial investment?
By answering these questions and discussing the rationale with your staff, you will not only gain insight and engagement from within your organization, but you will also be better prepared to carry out your new OAP.
|WHAT [TASK]||WHO||WHEN||HOW MUCH||NOTES|
|Shadowing in dispatch||John||6/3 – 5pm||90 minutes||With Elaine during rush hour|
|Building a schedule||John||6/10 – 2pm||2 hours||Working with Jason|
|Tablet/app functions||John||6/15 – 9am||15 minutes||Jen will review and give tips|
|Dispatch review quiz||John||6/19 – 9am||20 minutes||Complete in office|
|Feedback session||John||6/24 – 1pm||15 minutes||Meet with Denise in office|
|Entereing a reservation||Elaine||7/1 – 9am||30 minutes||Working with John|
|Special accounts||Elaine||7/7 – 9am||30 minutes||Working with John|
|Specials events/promos||Elaine||7/10 – 9am||20 minutes||Working with Eliza|
When you are ready, creating a simple table will help you to organize your OAP:
Be as specific as possible when listing out tasks that are to be completed. Schedule precise times when possible and set expectations clearly in the notes section.
Once the OAP is complete, review with team members and save to a shared location where everyone involved will have access. You may also want to include columns to check off when tasks are completed and a separate “Feedback” section for employees to share their ongoing insights. Set up calendar reminders for each task and adhere to the schedule. Although on occasion the OAP may have to be altered, it is critical that the plan is not set aside. Remember that the purpose of the OAP is to implement changes aligned with your organization’s strategic goals. [CD0320]
Chris Hotham is director of LMC OPS, a division of the LMC groups. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.