Work plans are often associated with project management, but you don't have to be a certified project manager to benefit from the efficiency work plans can bring to your business. Any job that you need to do, from mopping floors to installing a new computer network, can be described as a project. A work plan describes any project from beginning to end, detailing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and, when appropriate, how much should be spent. A work plan can be designed for one employee or a team working on the same project.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Work plan definition: A strategy designed to solve problems and boost employee productivity by listing the goal, strategy, tasks, objectives and tactics for any project.
Importance of Work Plans
If employees don't know exactly what's expected of them, it would unreasonable to expect them to excel at their jobs. A small business owner may know every facet of a project, but to employees — especially when they're new — the process may look like a labyrinth.
A work plan is much like a road map, detailing the project from beginning to end. It serves two purposes. First, it's a way of planning the project as you're writing it. Secondly, it serves as a guide to employees to ensure nothing has been missed.
Components of a Work Plan
In most cases, a work plan describes the purpose or goal of the project, what strategies and tactics you want to be used, the specific tasks that are required to complete the project and its objectives.
- Goal: This is the purpose of the project and, in most cases, identifies the project completion.
- Strategy: This is a brief statement explaining how the project should be accomplished.
- Tasks: Specific tasks that need to be accomplished to reach the goal.
Objectives: These are measurable or quantifiable
steps that lead toward the project goal. Often described as deliverables, these may be important tasks or the results of some tasks.
* Tactics: These are specific ways in which a task should be done.
In some cases, strategies and tactics may be very detailed or just give brief instructions on the methods you want to be used in the project. In all cases, however, the tasks and objectives should be as specific as possible. In other words, it may not always be important to describe how something should be done, but it's always important to specify what must be done.
Work Plan Examples for Employees
Depending on the size and scope of a project, a work plan could consist of just a few tasks or several dozen. For a basic work plan, suppose you need someone to qualify sales leads for your business that you gathered at a recent trade show. A simple work plan may read as follows:
- Goal: To qualify 100 sales leads.
- Objective: To book 35 sales appointments.
- Strategy: To speak to each person who provided a phone number and book an appointment for the sales team.
- Task 1: Call each person, introduce yourself and explain why you're calling.
- Task 2: Read the sales script and book a sales appointment.
- Task 3: Confirm the prospect's name, email address and physical address.
- Task 4: Enter the appointment date in the calendar.
- Tactics: Speak in a pleasant, professional manner. Stand while speaking and smile. People can hear the difference in your voice when you smile.
As another example, suppose you own a small retail shop and it's time to do inventory. You've recently purchased a barcode reader and want everything scanned and entered into a spreadsheet. In this example, the tactics represent what-if scenarios to help the employees should they encounter problems completing the tasks.
- Goal: To count all items for sale in the store.
- Objective: To have all items for sale entered in an Excel spreadsheet.
- Strategy: Having a new barcode reader should make the process much faster this quarter. If an item can't be scanned, the manager will count it manually.
- Task 1: Connect the barcode reader to the laptop and open the Inventory spreadsheet.
- Task 2: Scan each item. If the barcode reader doesn't beep, try again.
- Task 3: Replace each item where it was on the shelf.
- Task 4: Save the spreadsheet and close the laptop.
- Tactic 1: Begin with the top shelf at the front of the room, count each item to the bottom of the shelf, then continue to the next shelf.
- Tactic 2: If an item doesn't have a barcode or can't be scanned, write down the count and a description of the item on paper. Place a yellow sticker on the shelf below the item.
A published author, David Weedmark has advised businesses on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years and used to teach computer science at Algonquin College. He is currently the owner of Mad Hat Labs, a web design and media consultancy business. David has written hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines and websites including American Express, Samsung, Re/Max and the New York Times' About.com.