The Business-Technology Weave

Oct 31 2010   12:54PM GMT

Plans: Planning and Managing Change, Pt. III – the One-Year and Individual Action Plans

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott


The One-Year Plan


A properly maintained Five-Year Plan means that your One-Year Plan is being worked on and readied not only in a “near-term” advance; you’ve been working on it to one degree or another for five years!  That’s powerful.  Again, this plan drops into place from the front of your Five-Year Plan.  It outlines all of your major objectives for the year with just enough detail so as to present an efficient, informative overview of each objective.  Items on the One-Year Plan are broken out and assigned to individuals and, as necessary, groups, to manage as projects for the larger endeavors and as tasks for the smaller initiatives.  Hence each item on the One-Year Plan is on at least one person’s Individual Action Plan; some items on the One-Year Plan will be on several individuals’ action plans, since they will require a team, or project, effort.  Group initiatives will show on the Individual Action Plans as a specified role and set of responsibilities for that individual.   


The Individual Action Plan


Each IT staff member’s Individual Action Plan is a roll down from the department’s One-Year Plan.  Each item on the One-Year Plan is on various Individual Action Plans, with expanded detail and specific expectations.  Here are the actual projects, tasks, duties, and ownerships – indeed this plan is one of the most effective levers for getting things done.  Sure, you’ve got goals listed in each of your employee’s appraisals, and you may have a professional development document somewhere – these are generally filed away until a mandated annual review.  But the Individual Action Plan is drafted and maintained by the individual IT staff member, and approved by the manager.  It has projected dates for completion of items.  It is reviewed quarterly at a minimum, and on an ad hoc basis as necessary.  Items are marked as completed or pending as appropriate. 


If an item is not to be undertaken – for example if something cannot be funded as anticipated – it is removed.  Initiatives that were not originally planned, but which have been added to the year’s objectives, are assigned and added to an appropriate person’s action plan as necessary.  A well maintained Individual Action Plan is a ready reference come review time, and makes the preparation of each employee’s appraisal much easier – it also makes for great supporting documentation. 


A current year’s Individual Action Plan can also include items from any year of the Five-Year Plan.  For example, a somewhat distant future initiative may need researching now.  However, the Individual Action Plan is primarily a “get it done” document for achieving the near-term objectives of the coming year.


The “Who” of Getting Us There:  Further, as we consider the importance of ‘where we are,’ ‘where we’re going,’ and ‘how we’re getting there,’ consider the ‘who’ of getting there.  Who exactly is doing what?  Within the organization, the Individual Action Plan is the ultimate setting, documenting, and control as to who is doing what.


Leveraging your plans


Toward the middle and end of each year, a major focus shifts to year-one of the Five-Year Plan.  It is now the upcoming One-Year Plan, and it should be on the agenda in the BIT meetings.  It should be raised in budget meetings, all-staff meetings, and IT staff meetings:  anywhere futures discussion and planning is happening.  The IT leader must be sure to do a final survey of Business regarding all of their needs, real and imagined, and the various Business teams must vet and justify each.  It is also very important for Business to make their own effort:  to make needs known to IT on a timely basis, particularly as regards changing needs that evolve between formalized meetings or understandings.  The fourth quarter of the year is a good time for IT’s sponsor(s) to attend a BIT meeting or two.  Getting everything on the table and identified as a “need,” “want,” and “wish-list” type of item is very important. 


Once the year starts, remember that the current One-Year Plan is a living document.  As the BIT team meets, and issues are raised or fine-tuned, relevant items add to the plan and get tracked.  Some items may drop.  There should be very few “surprises” in a properly maintained plan environment.  IT works within its supervision to make sure the BIT-developed and other work is on track with the organization’s goals and expectations. 



The One-Year Plan’s Support to Projects


As a One-Year Plan approaches actualization, specific items take shape as separate, defined, and detailed plans in support of managed projects.  As the bulk of the work is viewed from a requirements standpoint and a budget perspective, and as work is discussed and balanced in terms of load to departments and individuals, it starts to become apparent what can be supported – and perhaps what cannot. 


In other words, the overarching One-Year Plan becomes fairly steadfast, and becomes a catalog of sanctioned projects and initiatives – pointing to detailed plans that are under development or ready for execution.  As importantly, any delayed or disapproved work will be known to all participants – expectations and requirements are now being satisfied according to the organization’s authority and sanction, with everyone’s full knowledge.



Remember ~


Any specific IT plan should have a match to a business plan or objective in the organization.  The Five-Year, One-Year, and Individual Action Plans must support sanctioned business initiatives.  IT’s plans help to establish where you are, where you’re going, and the route for how you’re getting there. 


As importantly, direct responsibility is assigned through the plans; the specific “who” of getting you there. 


Remember to leverage BIT and its agenda in support of managed change according to plan. 


October 31st:  It’s Halloween.   :^ )

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