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A SMARTER business plan of action: the major steps you’re missing 9 min read
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You’re probably familiar with the S.M.A.R.T. goals framework. It’s all about making sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-related (or Time-bound).

And it’s a common framework to use when crafting a new plan of action.

But is it the best way?

The short answer is: no.

It’s not enough to be S.M.A.R.T. anymore.

By adding 2 simple steps to the end of your business plan of action analysis, you can drive stronger results from a happier team.

In this article we’ll walk you through what a plan of action is and how to make one using the SMARTER framework.

It’s time to take your S.M.A.R.T. approach, and make it SMARTER.

Let’s dive in.

What is a plan of action (and why does every business need one)?

Have you ever stood in front of the refrigerator half-asleep in the middle of the night, knowing you’re hungry but not sure what to do about it? That’s your business without a plan of action.

An action plan is a series of steps to get you from where you are to where you want to go. It’s a detailed plan that will help you achieve your goal.

If you’re operating without a defined plan of action for each business goal, you’re fumbling in the dark. If you have a plan of action that’s not clear — well, now it’s like you have a flashlight with almost-dead batteries.

To create a detailed action plan you need the following details:

  • Goal to achieve — what you want to accomplish (I.e., stop being hungry)
  • Related objective — what you’ll do to reach your goal (make and eat a sandwich)
  • List of detailed actions or tasks to complete the objective (get ingredients out of fridge, get knife and plate, etc.)
  • Responsible personnel for each action (who’s going to get the ingredients, who will assemble the sandwich)
  • Status of each step (how far into making this sandwich are we?)
  • Timeline for each action and the overall plan (when you’re going to eat)
  • Constraints — anything stopping you from meeting your goal (you’re almost out of mayo)

Not quite sure what the difference is between a goal and objective? Check out this post which breaks it down.

The biggest challenge when crafting a plan of action is making sure it’s actually, you know, actionable.

If you’re too high-level, vague, or generic, the plan falls apart.

How do you prevent that?

Make sure your plan is S.M.A.R.T. Then make it SMARTER.

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How to determine if your action plan is S.M.A.R.T.

Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-related. Those are the 5 measurable components of S.M.A.R.T. business plans of action.

Here are the simple questions to ask yourself (and your team) when evaluating your action plan to make sure it hits all these key points:

  • Specific: can you define every step of your goal process (and the goal itself) in clear detail or is it open to interpretation?
  • Measurable: is the success of each task in your action plan measurable? What data must you consider?
  • Attainable: on a broad scale, is your goal attainable? On a smaller scale, is each step of your plan of action achievable?
  • Relevant: is every step of your plan truly relevant to achieving your goal? Why is the goal important to you?
  • Time-Related: have you attached a concrete time frame to your plan? Will the steps take a reasonable amount of time to complete?

The S.M.A.R.T. method of analyzing your business action plan.

The S.M.A.R.T. framework for evaluating your action plan is crucial to providing structure and tracking outcomes for you and your team.

Leslie Riopel, MSc.(Northwood University) states to Positive Psychology that setting a specific and timely goal “motivates us into action and holds us accountable”.

Riopel goes on to say that setting group goals “helps create a sense of community, as well as a deeper sense of meaning, and a greater feeling of belonging and satisfaction”.

If S.M.A.R.T. is the benchmark for evaluating a plan of action, why mess with a good thing? The answer is simple.

Why is the S.M.A.R.T. approach not enough?

Make no mistake: S.M.A.R.T. is a great start for action plan cultivation, but it’s time to add a forecast of results into the equation to drive performance.

Giving your team an Endgame — where you’re headed — to look towards , and providing Rewards — why they should care — for getting there are 2 simple, actionable steps to make your S.M.A.R.T. approach even SMARTER.

SMARTER business plans of action also analyze endgame and rewards

It’s time to add results-based focus into the S.M.A.R.T. goals framework for your business plan of action.

We know that teams will deliver higher-quality output and feel more positive about the journey if the endgame and rewards are outlined.

The objective is to make your organization’s main goal feel like a personal goal to each team member. Implementation of endgame and rewards to your action planning achieves that.

SMARTER analysis chart for business plan of action

Why does your plan of action’s endgame matter?

A fully realized business plan of action needs to keep an eye on results, not just the process.

At, we realize that accomplishing planning activities starts by working backwards from the final goal.

Keeping the endgame for success in the front of your team’s minds is so valuable in keeping productivity up and morale high.

There’s empirical data that employees with high self-efficacy commit to bigger goals.

In other words, if your team knows it is heading in a confident direction, it’ll naturally commit to greater production and bigger goals.

The more specific a goal is, the more likely a person is to try to achieve it. It’s crucial that your goal — and the plan of action attached to it — is fully laid out for your team in advance.

Give your team a concrete endgame — not just where you’re going, but why, with forward-looking checkpoints along the way.

Once you do that, step forward to the last piece of your SMARTER action plan analysis. Give your team a tantalizing treat for their performance.

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Tying rewards into goal-setting drives stronger results.

Focusing on rewards-based analysis of your plan of action directly leads to enhanced performance and stronger results.

If your team knows how a plan of action will benefit everyone, they are more likely to deliver higher effort and stronger results.

82% of workers consider recognition a key component of their workplace happiness, and 68% of workers believe recognition directly impacts their ability to advance and earn promotions.

82% of workers directly tie recognition to happiness at work.

In short — setting up rewards will motivate employees to commit to your action plan.

If you think including rewards in your SMARTER business plan of action is going to cost you money, you’re wrong. Rewards create higher employee retention. Employee retention saves you money.

58% of employees stay at their jobs because they work for a “great boss”. More workers leave jobs because of poor workplace culture than because of poor pay.

The average cost to replace an employee is 6 to 9 months of her/his salary. The average American salary in business operations was $78,130 in 2019.

It costs a lot less to retain team members with strong rewards than it does to spend $39,000 or more on a new employee.

Your rewards are set up, your team is happy and engaged — now it’s time to create your plan of action.

Make your plans smarter with’s work plan template

So now that you’re all in, it’s time to create your plan of action, analyze it with S.M.A.R.T. measurable tools, and then boost it to a SMARTER action plan.

And we’re here to help you do just that. Welcome to the work plan template.

The Work Plan Template drives a SMARTER business plan of action.

It’s a fully itemized breakdown of every step in your action plan. You can easily populate everything in the work plan template, and customize it to fit your business needs.

It’s the perfect way to guarantee you’re working with a SMARTER business action plan template.

  • Create specific tactics with itemized task lists.
  • Add measurable related goals.
  • Set attainable targets for assigned personnel and teams.
  • Show relevancy by highlighting objectives within your board.
  • And make it all time-related with the use of statuses and deadline trackers.

But what about the endgame and rewards we added to your SMARTER action plan?

The work plan template highlights the overall endgame and engages your team with big-picture focus. Updating individual tasks on one board allows you and your team to track where those tasks are leading and how they fit into the overall plan.

Rewards are easy to assign with the work plan template as well. Color-coded objectives and status updates allow you to identify your most productive, action-oriented team members, so you can reward them accordingly. You can also easily tie team-based rewards to hitting milestones or progress goals. .

If it feels like we created this template with your business in mind, that’s because we did. We’re here to make sure your action items drive you to one end goal that rewards team success.

Work SMARTER, reach your goals and celebrate cares about how your business creates its goals, but also where those goals are going.

It’s important to foster an environment where all the members of your team not only know where they’re going, but why.

What’s at the end of the rainbow, and does it benefit everyone involved? The work plan template nurtures your plan of action from start to finish, truly making your S.M.A.R.T. plan even SMARTER.

Got the Work Plan Template already? Great! Now, let’s take control of your goals.

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