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Whether you're just starting out with a new business, or you are planning a new project for an established business, creating an implementation plan is a vital first step toward your success. An implementation plan can be a part of your business plan, or it can be a stand-alone document for any project you are about to undertake.
Specify Your Objectives
The first part of your implementation should list your most important objectives with deadlines. Like any goal, these should be challenging but not impossible. For example, if you were starting a new web design company, three objectives could be:
- Launch our website and be ready for business in one month.
- Secure three clients within three months.
- Secure six clients within six months.
Notice that without these timelines, the objectives would be vague and practically meaningless. Dedicating yourself to getting your website up within a month means that if you haven't bought a domain name yet, you should be inspired to get that started as soon as possible.
Dedicate Your Team's Responsibilities
Provided that you are not working alone, the next task is to specify who will be responsible for managing each objective. If you have a partner in this web design company, for example, one of you could be responsible for the company website while the other is responsible for sales and marketing. Of course, this doesn't mean that you both couldn't help with each project, but the responsibility for completing each objective on time should fall squarely on one person's shoulders.
If you are working alone, you may want to use this section as an opportunity to divide your own time into adequate blocks. For example, if you're starting this company in your free time while you still have a day job, you might want to specify that one-third of your time will be spent on sales and marketing while two-thirds of your time will be dedicated to the website until that objective is completed.
Implementation Plan Steps
This part of your implementation plan is where you get specific about the steps you need to take to make sure each objective becomes a fulfilled goal. Think of this section as a skeleton and not a full-bodied description of everything that needs to be done. Questions to ask yourself to define each task should include:
- Whom do you need to contact?
- What decisions need to be made?
- What resources will be needed?
- How much will it cost?
- What milestones and deadlines need to be set to ensure we stay on target?
- For what setbacks should we prepare?
Delegating Tasks and Responsibilities
Depending on the size of your team and their level of expertise, you should assign tasks to specific people. In fact, you should delegate tasks whenever possible. If one of your objectives is to find a suitable office to lease, for example, finding the right space and negotiating a lease could be delegated to a real estate agent. If you need images for your new website and graphics, these could both be delegated to a graphic designer.
However, responsibility for overseeing these tasks should go to someone on your team to ensure they get done on time. If the graphics need to be done in a month, someone should be in contact with the graphic designer a week or two before that deadline to ensure that the deadline won't be missed.
Tracking Timelines and Developing Contingency Plans
A good implementation plan will usually be a work in progress as you begin putting it into action. Regardless of how well you prepare your plan, you should always expect something to go wrong. Review your plan on a weekly basis at the very least to see what has been accomplished, what's going according to your plan and what is in jeopardy of going off track.
Suppose, for example, you plan to start your business in three months, and six weeks into your plan, you still haven't found an adequate office. In this case, you will need a contingency plan. Perhaps you will need to increase your budget for a lease, or perhaps you will need to work from home for the first couple of months after launching.
Regardless of what happens, always remember that you are in control, and by keeping track of your tasks, your plan can be modified as needed to ensure your key objectives are met.
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.