5W2H: Action Plan in 7 Questions
A great tool to establish an action plan and leverage results
There are several moments in a manager’s life when great ideas arise, which can be the solution to certain problems or even strategies to increase profits. In these moments, meetings, debates, discussions, and exchange of ideas are held to refine the initial idea and become it into a project. However, many of these projects end up shelved, lost somewhere on the computer’s hard drive, simply because of the lack of an action plan.
A great tool to establish an action plan and leverage results is the 5W2H, which can be defined as the seven fundamental questions to get a project off the ground. There is no consensus on who was the creator of this tool, but it can be said that it was created in Japanese automobile assemblers, which became a world model of quality and performance.
With 5W2H it is possible to draw up a strategy, delegate functions and sign sectors and people responsible for each of the stages. Therefore, so far the tool has proven to be quite useful, but how do I use it in my daily life?
Let’s now analyze how to implement each of these points.
This is the first step to be taken. Let’s get to the key question: “What are we looking for?” It is necessary to concisely and clearly define what is expected to be achieved with the action plan, in addition to the secondary tasks that can help achieve this objective.
In this phase, the phases of the project, the steps to be performed and the general and specific objectives of each of these steps are also defined. This phase is the kickoff of the project, and is therefore one of the most important phases.
A tip that we leave here is the use of the SMART method to go through this stage effectively, with its well-modeled objectives and phases. This methodology helps you set clear and objective expectations to maximize your chances of achieving them.
This method says that the objective must be SMART, that is, Specific – (Specific, well-defined), Measurable (Measurable, able to be defined in numbers and data), Achievable (Attainable, that can be achieved), Relevant (Relevant, that has real influence on the results) and Time Based (Temporal, with a realistic schedule).
Don’t worry, we’ll soon talk in detail about the SMART method here on our blog. Let’s now move on to the next steps of 5W2H.
Step two: understand and defend the motivation for your project. This is where your project justification is raised! Keeping this in mind serves both to justify the time and energy invested in the project and to motivate the team to achieve the objective.
In this phase, the cost-benefit of the project must also be calculated, that is, whether the resources spent on this action plan will have satisfactory results. All occurrences and their solutions must be considered in order to generate meaning in the action plan, even in the simplest tasks.
Third step: define where each of your actions will take place. Keeping in mind where you run tasks is useful for several reasons. The main one is knowing where to go to find out if the project is moving as expected. At this time, the project’s logistics must also be defined, whether it will be necessary to contact factors external to the company and possible displacements, in addition to the resources inherent to these operations. Here, the responsible departments and ordering of tasks are also defined, so that the project continues at a good pace without delays.
We then go to the fourth step, in which we define the dates, both the deadline for delivering the results and the schedule for carrying out each of the tasks. This schedule must be carefully thought out and documented, so that each one involved is aware of the moment to take action.
A great way to set the timeline for action is the Eisenhower Matrix, which is also a very useful tool for defining and prioritizing tasks. This matrix can be applied at all stages of the project, so as not to compromise the progress of the action plan.
This is the fifth and one of the most important steps in the entire action plan: who will carry out the tasks. It is necessary to define who will outline the strategic part of each stage of the plan and who will currently carry out the tasks, delegating the project phases to the responsible teams.
Here is also a good time to evaluate the team well and delegate functions according to the skills of the collaborators, to guarantee maximum productivity during the project.
Sixth and penultimate step, we are almost modeling your project effectively.
Here the methodology of the project must be defined, being the shape of the program. It is essential to gather accurate information about methodologies that have already been tested for the execution of the project in question. This phase will require some study time to gather as much documented information as possible to help execute the action plan.
It is indispensable that the team is clear about the chosen methodology, so even if this methodology is already defined, it is necessary that it be taught to the team, in order to have the expected result.
Finally, we come to the seventh and last one to be worked on, one of the most crucial stages of our project. This is the financial stage, that is, the stage in which the resources that will be applied for the execution of the action plan will be calculated. At that time, a budget for materials and equipment to be purchased should be made, but the calculation should go deeper than that to be effective.
The hours of work applied in the project must also be calculated, in addition to inputs, energy, equipment wear and extra expenses, gathering as much as possible of probable expenses for the program of the project. The more information gathered, the more accurate the cost calculation will be, which can be very important in making decisions during the course of the action plan.
Defined action plan, now what?
After answering all these questions, it’s time to get your hands dirty. If 5W2H has been applied correctly, teams and leaders already have in mind what they need to do and what they depend on to carry out their tasks. It is important that the answers to the questions are saved and consulted regularly, so that the progress of the project can be observed and if it proceeds as expected.