What is an action items list?
An action item refers to a task or work that’s a follow-up to a meeting. Typically, it’s an action which arises out of a conversation but it’s not core to the accomplishment of the meeting’s objectives. With an action item tracker, project managers can formally schedule the tasks to make sure that he assigns and notes all of the necessary activity.
An action items list template allows you to add a list of action items which require corrective actions. You can list the items in the action register to ensure that they’re executed according to how important they are. The action items template also contains all of the information and important documents related to the action items.
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Common types of action items templates
In an action items template, you list all of the items which need corrective actions. You can create the template from scratch or download an action items list template and start using it. Either way, you should know the type of template you need for your own project or company. Some of the most common types of action item lists include:
- Corrective Action
This type of template shows you all of the details of the issues of the action items. Make sure to include the name of your company and the audit date. Also, include the log number of the document, the issues related to the action items, and the corresponding corrective actions.
To complete the template, include the deadline for the correction and a field for the date of completion. This enables accountability for those in charge of taking corrective measures for the given action items.
- Decisive Action
This type of template provides a description of the decisions you must take in relation to the corrective actions. Here, include the meeting date and the names of all the attendees of the said meeting. Make sure that the decision of the decisive action is in full detail.
Also, include the name of the person in charge of making the decision, the priority levels of the action items, and the people to inform about the status and progress of the decisive or corrective actions.
- Project Management Action
This type of template provides a description of the action items in your project, the priority levels of each action item, when you need to report these, and who should take care of the action items. Also, include the status of the corrective actions to ensure the smooth flow of the project.
- Priority Action
In this type of template, you make a list of the action items according to priority. Then include the description of the problem that needs resolution, the person in charge, the area, and the status of the issue. Also, include a field for the resolution of each of the action items and their completion dates.
Tips for writing a better action items
An action item tracker is extremely important, especially when you have a lot of tasks to oversee throughout a specific project or event. Composing a well-written and organized action register template provides you with all of the information you need to know and when you need to take care of everything.
Consider these tips for writing a better action items template:
- Keep in mind that the “capture phase” varies from the “process phase”
No matter what type of template you use to list your action items, the whole process involves two phases namely the capture phase and the process phase. During the capture phase, you simply list down all of the action items you can think of. During the process phase, you start analyzing these action items. You think about their priority level, who should take care of them, the deadlines to set for their completion, and so on. Therefore, this phase is a lot more important than the first one.
- When you write the action items, word them as if someone else will read them
Most of the time, when you create action item lists, you only write the action items as short codes to remind you of everything. Although this may work if the template is only for your reference, it won’t be too effective for when other people need to use the list as a reference too.
Therefore, as you write down the action items, word them as if other people will read them. This makes everything in your template easy to understand which, in turn, makes it clear for everybody concerned.
- Make use of verb-noun constructs from the start
Verb-noun constructs are extremely useful as they tell you what you need to do for each of the action items. These types of statements automatically initiate action which is something that you want. This is because the people who read the action items don’t have to figure out what they need to do.
Another great thing about verb-noun constructs is that using them makes it apparent when there’s a need to breakdown a specific action item into smaller, doable parts. Also, the verbs indicate how much work you need to complete the task in question.
- Include fields for important dates in your template
Action items are very important otherwise, you won’t even make them part of your action item tracker. Someone needs to take care of or resolve each of the action items for the project to move forward. Because of this, it’s important to include fields for important dates in your template too.
From the beginning, include the deadline of each action item. Then add a field for the completion date of the action items which the person in charge must fill in. This way, you can see which of the action items are already completed and which of them need following up.
- Assign someone to take charge of each action item
Sometimes, this part can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re working with a big team with a lot of members. However, this is a very important step which you must do. Unless you assign a person to take care of the action item, how will it get completed?
Assigning a person, a department or a committee to perform each of the action items gives them accountability. As long as they know the deadline, they will push to meet it, especially if there are any consequences if they don’t.
- Clarify relay items
The main purpose of action items is to initiate the action of the people in charge of them. These spur the actions of each person in the whole chain of the project. You can think of this like a relay race. The first person takes his turn and the next person can only begin after that person finishes his task.
A lot of projects may contain relay items. When you handle such action items, you can either divide them into smaller tasks or explain to your team members that after they finish a task, they automatically inform or send the action item to the next one in the relay.
- Provide context to the action items as notes or comments
Always make sure to provide context to each of the action items in your list. Provide background information or description which emphasizes the importance of the items. This will help the readers complete the tasks more effectively because they understand the tasks fully.
Without these notes, the tasks might not make a lot of sense to the people reading your action items list template. Adding these context clues makes it easier for everyone so don’t forget to include them.
Using your action items template
An action items list is a very important document which allows you to log all of the messages, issues or actions which you’ve identified during your meetings. They contain all of the details about the issues and when they’ve occurred. They also contain all other relevant information pertaining to these action items.
Creating this template allows you to manage all of the action items easily. Of course, you should also know how to use the template effectively to make the most out of it. To help out, here are some tips for you:
- Make sure to include all the details when making modifications, notes or updates to your template.
- Check to ensure that each of the action items has a specific person or entity assigned to completing them. Also, make sure to include their deadlines, especially those which are high-priority.
- If you cannot think about the deadline for an action item but you know that it’s a priority, use the word ASAP as an indication of its urgency.
- Create the template using a format and software you’re very comfortable with. That way, you can manipulate it easily each time you need to make changes.
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