What are project management action items? (Answered)

To complete the entire project, the project manager needs to produce all action items within the timeline. Thus, they need to delegate each item to its task owner properly. Next, they can track the progress by observing the due date for all the tasks in the queue.

Therefore, the project planning phase should group the tasks by a given priority level. Then, the project manager should start creating action items. For best results, they can reserve complex tasks for a specific person or certain team members.

Key takeaways

  • Task Delegation and Tracking: Action items should be delegated properly to the respective task owners and tracked against due dates to ensure project tasks are completed within the timeline​​.
  • Clear Purpose and Descriptions: Each action item should have a clear purpose and a detailed description to avoid confusion, allowing the assignee to begin work immediately. Supporting documents should be attached for easy reference​​.
  • Feasible Due Dates and Prioritization: Assigning achievable deadlines and prioritizing tasks based on importance and urgency helps maintain a steady workflow and ensures timely completion of project milestones​​.
  • Best Practices for Management: Utilizing project management software, highlighting time-sensitive tasks, using simple terms for clarity, creating intuitive communication channels, and carefully inspecting completed work are best practices for managing action items effectively​​.

Basic Overview and Definitions

The project management action item list comprises activities and assignees. So, project progress depends on how well the team is at tracking action items. If all goes well, team members will always know what to do next and how much time they have to do it.

Therefore, each action item revolves around a target goal. Together, they form the “to-do list” needed to complete the project. However, a specific task can play a more pivotal role and comprise a key milestone. Therefore, the team must have a complete understanding of all tasks and sub-tasks.

On the other hand, some action items should produce a deliverable. A team meeting can necessitate such a move to ensure a smooth workflow afterward. Yet, some action items may be much simpler, like sending a follow-up email.

Regardless, each link in the chain should have its own action item. That way, the team won’t forget to present the current status in a Gantt chart, for example. So, even if they seem easy, action items hold a lot of value. Failing to cross them off the list in the desired order might lead to project failure.

Main Benefits and Insightful Tips

Overseeing progress warrants following a few best practices to save valuable time. Here are a few pointers for ensuring the entire team is on the same page:

Keep a Tight Schedule

You should never allow due dates to fly under the radar. Instead, the team members should keep a firm grasp on how to clear certain tasks and when. To aid them, try putting the project management action items in detailed meeting notes. At the same time, this will allow even newcomers to follow along.

Set Up Priorities to Direct the Workflow

To ensure your team can deal with roadblocks as soon as they appear, tag each action item by relevance. To do so, you’ll need the know-how to estimate where a bottleneck may arise. Thus, reserve a longer buffer period for the team to find their footing in between.

Demand Accuracy and Responsibility

Project managers should set an example with their work but also expect a lot from their teams. So, once you hone in on the essential to-do items, find the best person for the job. If necessary, make an action items template to divide the sub-tasks quickly.

Develop Momentum When Writing Action Items

As you create action items, ensure to provide clear descriptions as well. This will allow even third-party members to know how to track progress. Also, the rest of your team will have an accurate notion of the items’ due dates. That means they could orient better and avoid unnecessary work.

Estimate the Optimal Completion Time

A number of pitfalls may stay in the way of a project path. However, having a clear action plan may allow you to deduce where things will start slowing down. Then, you can track the status reports and re-adjust a deadline to create more space for your team. Similarly, you can track how long the team took to deal with a particular task.

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Important Elements and Key Takeaways

In general, an action item has several recognizable aspects. For instance, the task owner, due date, and description.

The Task Owner

The action item’s task owner is the person who needs to perform that part of the project. This also puts them in a position where they’ll need to ensure its timely completion. Knowing that you’ll need to be careful when assigning action items. Otherwise, one failed task may inflict the successor activity as well.

On this note, consider reviewing the team members’ calendars. If you’re dealing with a complex task, look for someone with enough time on their hands. So, don’t rush when putting together a project management action items list.

The Action Item’s Description

Start by ensuring each action item has a clear purpose and justified initial costs. Next, aim for punchy description manuals that leave no room for error. For example, use something like “build resource management plans and send them for review.” This clearly communicates the core of the activity, and the assignee can start as soon as they get the task.

Also, if there are any supporting elements that will aid the task’s completion, remember to attach files. Next, the team member will be able to access all relevant data in one place.

A Step-by-Step Guide

Some action items will refer to a series of activities instead of one. For such cases, it’s best to go more in-depth when summarizing how to complete them. So, the better you explain the optimal path, the better for the whole team.

Assign Feasible Due Dates

Pinpoint the average time needed to complete an action item. Compare it to the related tasks when setting up a timeline. Lastly, assign an achievable deadline for a given task to set the work underway.

For an error-free method, consider using project management software. This will also allow the other departments a full view of the entire timeline. As a result, they’ll deduce how their individual inputs contribute towards project completion.

Best Practices and Optimal Principles

To manage action items, you’ll need a reliable system in place at all times. This doesn’t refer only to the date assigned for each of the project’s legs. Here’s how to help yourself with the project management action items:

Highlight the Time-Sensitive Tasks

Ensure that your team members are aware of which task they should address first. If possible, check their lists of daily tasks to confirm they prioritized them correctly.

Use Simple Terms

To ensure no team member will spend time wondering where to move next, set up clear goals. So, utilize to-the-point description and describe the expected outcome of a given action item.

Create Intuitive Communication Channels

Be prudent when communicating with your team over their usual pain points. If you feel they’re about to face a roadblock, try to resolve the issue beforehand. Providing such a level of support is a great way to push the progress forward.

Carefully Inspect the Completed Work

Once the team finalizes a complex action item, take the time to review their work. Then, try to identify where they performed exceptionally well. Later, use this data to prepare better instructions and replicate the success.

Common Examples of Action Items

After any corporate meeting, the company will have a list of vague goals. This list will soon move into the project manager’s hands. Then, they’ll have to group the tasks and create action items out of them.

This will pave the way for the rest of the team to get busy. Having a clear set of goals leads to the execution phase more naturally. Here’s how to allow for such a development:

  • Carefully set a timetable that your team can follow
  • Contact any third-party vendors and contractors you can use
  • Notify a key stakeholder on when the work will commence
  • Optimize the new members’ boarding process
  • Regularly issue work orders
  • Put the timeline in an intuitive graphic

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Having an easy-to-follow plan is necessary to complete all action item lists. However, the item’s individual descriptions are equally important for that. Here’s how to ensure your team starts on the right foot:

Thoroughly Explain Each Action Item

Your action plan must devote enough space for each entry. Both your team and the stakeholders will benefit from this. Otherwise, the project’s start will suffer delays, and the higher-ups will often demand explanations.

Do Not Use Approximations

Instead of creating a task that lasts for “two to four weeks,” try to set the deadlines in stone. Being punctual with the due dates is what you’d expect of a team member, after all. Therefore, funnel their attention into a limited timeframe. This will allow you to gauge their progress levels, too.

Properly Utilize the Available Manpower

Not all team members can excel at a given task. Some action items will require a very specific set of skills that you’ll rarely find. So, if there are no volunteers, get to know your team to divide the list of tasks better.

Conclusion on Project Management Action Items

Most projects have multiple moving parts that are hard to follow on their own. However, failing to complete one part at a time will affect the rest of the work. To escape a downward slope, work with your team when creating the sub-tasks

Segmenting the work into bite-sized action items is an excellent way to build momentum. As soon as the first item gets crossed off of the list, the team will gain confidence. Plus, you’ll get to evaluate how they’ve reached a certain milestone easily. This also simplifies the task of keeping the stakeholders up to date with the project.

If you liked this article about project management action items, you should check out this article about challenges in project management.

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By Bogdan Sandu

Bogdan is a seasoned web designer and tech strategist, with a keen eye on emerging industry trends. With over a decade in the tech field, Bogdan blends technical expertise with insights on business innovation in technology. A regular contributor to TMS Outsource's blog, where you'll find sharp analyses on software development, tech business strategies, and global tech dynamics.

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