Work Plan 101: Getting Started

Work Plan

"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail"

— An age old truth for managers and team leaders everywhere

The quote above proves a need for a solid work plan. By failing to have something guiding you – you and your team will likely have a hard time setting and accomplishing goals. Whether you’re in a weekly planning meeting or an annual review session; you need a template for clarity.  

Not sure what a "good" work plan entails? Don’t know how to create one for your team? This article will explain everything you need to know to get started!

What is a work plan?

In simple terms, a work plan is a document that outlines a series of goals and breaks down the processes a team or individual will use to accomplish those goals and measure success. It also provides everyone on the team with a clearer understanding of the scope of specific projects.

Work plans help team members stay organized while working on various projects. Acting a bit like a team task management software – it breaks down big undertakings into smaller, more manageable, and more achievable tasks, ultimately keeping everyone motivated and focused.

How to use a work plan

Work plans can be used in a variety of situations. From weekly, quarterly, and yearly planning team meetings – to individual project planning. Let's introduce some of the most common use cases for work plans:

Yearly planning

A yearly work plan will help your team to set clear goals for the year and stay on track(or reassess) month after month to accomplish them.

Yearly work plans can also be used to assess the team’s performance during the previous year. This includes evaluating how well expectations were met last year and what can be done this year to improve.

Quarterly planning

A quarterly plan is used to help teams set goals for a 3-month period (a quarter of a year).

Quarterly planning provides an opportunity for team members to check in and evaluate the progress they’re making toward accomplishing their yearly goals. It also creates space for goals and performance metrics to be reevaluated and adjusted as needed.

Project planning

Work plans are often used for specific project planning, too.

A project plan contains all the information that a team needs about a particular project, including details regarding:

  • financing
  • resources
  • risks
  • procurement
  • quality control

Project plans also include information on the timeframe of the project and identify specific milestones that will need to be reached along the way to completing it.

Weekly planning

In addition to helping teams stay organized throughout the year or the quarter, work plans can also be used for weekly planning sessions. Weekly planning helps team members to stay focused on:

  • short-term goals
  • individual tasks
  • collaboration with team members

Weekly planning helps individuals work together to take action, and progress toward meeting larger objectives and long term goals for the quarter, or year.

What makes a GOOD work plan?

No matter if you’re using it to guide a weekly planning meeting or a series of yearly planning sessions, your plan should include certain elements.

The following are some examples of features that make a work plan effective for everyone on your team.

Measurable Goals and Objectives

The first step to creating an effective work plan is identifying specific, measurable goals for your team to work toward accomplishing. There are two goal-setting frameworks that work well for work plans: SMART goals and OKRs.

SMART Goals

SMART is an acronym that stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.

Starting your work plan with a SMART goal helps you and your team to get clear on what you want to accomplish, how you’re going to measure progress, and when you’re going to meet specific milestones. Be sure to download our SMART goals worksheet to get started.

OKRs

OKR is an acronym that stands for Objectives and Key Results. Objectives are the specific "out-worldly" goals that a team aims to accomplish. Therefore, Key Results are the metrics used to measure progress and evaluate the team’s performance.

To read more about the comparison between these two goal setting techniques; check out our blog post about OKR vs. SMART goals.

Finalized as a team

Good work plans should always be discussed with a team.

Work plans are collaborative in nature. All goals, as well as everyone’s unique roles and responsibilities, should be decided during team meetings. This gives everyone a chance to provide input and identify how they will contribute to completing the project, or meeting a specific objective.

Transparency

Once you and your team have identified clear goals and broken down the metrics you’ll use to monitor progress, it’s important to make sure all information related to the work plan is readily available to all team members.

The documents needed to complete to project or accomplish the goal should be stored in a specific folder, for example, and everything should be easily shareable between team members. No one should be out of the loop.

Progress tracking

It’s great for teams to identify specific metrics or key results to monitor when setting goals and creating a work plan. However, the work plan must also include regular check-ins for progress tracking.

Regular weekly check-ins and progress tracking allow for re-evaluation and adjustments to goals or performance metrics if needed. They also ensure that all team members are moving in the right direction.

Effective reporting of blockers and issues

Another key component is regular and quick reporting of blockers. A blocker is any kind of bug or issue that prevents a team member from continuing to make progress.

For teams to succeed and use their work plans effectively, members need to be able to quickly report blockers and other issues to their supervisors. This allows them to address the problem right away and prevent it from slowing down the workflow for everyone else on the team.

Get started today!

We've covered the different use cases and elements that make a good work plan. Are you ready to get your team on board?

Keep the tips outlined above in mind so you can create a work plan that keeps your team on track and helps you monitor and achieve your goals.

If you're looking for a single software that incorporates: goal-setting and weekly planning, look no further than Weekdone Team Compass.

You can try it free today! Teams of 3 or less use Team Compass for free. For larger teams, all features are included for just $99/month 😮