Implementation Month: The Implementation Plan

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This January Rural Resurrection is celebrating the third annual National Implementation Month! So let the festivities begin! But where do you start? Of course, the writer with a planning background is going to suggest laying out a plan of action, an Implementation Plan.

What is an Implementation Plan?

Simply put, an implementation plan facilitates the path necessary to accomplish a goal or objective of your community’s plans.

Detractors of implementation planning look at the word “plan” and get disheartened by the need to do more planning to make something happen from one of your community’s plans. But it should be differentiated by the fact that the community’s plans discuss what the community should do to reach its goals and objectives, whereas implementation plans set forth the actions that will be done to get to those goals and objectives.

It is not so much a conceptual plan, but a layout of the steps to turn your plans into reality.

What are the Benefits of an Implementation Plan?

The benefits of implementation planning are numerous. Here are a few:

  • Creates an actionable roadmap from project inception to completion
  • Provides clarity on the project and how it will be completed
  • Organizes all resources in one manageable place
  • Builds trust among those involved
  • Keeps everyone on track
  • Improves the likelihood of buy-in

How do you make an implementation plan?

Every implementation plan comprises some key elements that make it workable. Here is a breakdown of those elements:

1. Goals/Objectives: Like most community plans, implementation needs clear and definable goals and/or objectives. Bringing everyone together to strive toward the main goal and to clarify what objectives need to be met is key to buy-in. Setting goals and objectives early on reduces confusion and stirs interest.

2. Assign Responsibilities: Assigning roles and responsibilities is key for everyone to understand their part in making the project a reality. With the assignment of clear and concise responsibilities, you are able to accomplish better understanding and buy-in from those involved. This in turn makes it easier to keep them accountable.

3. Implementation Schedule: Schedules are important to keeping everyone on track. Without time-related goals effort can stagnate and confusion can reign. A schedule is an easy way to communicate the timeline and the expectation of stakeholders.

4. Resources: Resources are of course key to the success of almost any project. Knowing exactly what resources and how much you need is important. This isn’t just about funding for the project, but material, in-kind assistance, and other inputs that are needed to make it happen.

5. Metrics: How will you determine success of your project? Clarifying the metrics by which you judge success clarifies what success will look like. By setting milestones along the way, you can create a sense of accomplishment for team members, keeping them interested and involved.

6.¬†Contingency Plan: There’s always going to be hiccups along the way. Anticipating problems ahead of when they may happen will help the project’s survivability and ensure delays are limited.

Get Started!

Implementation planning may be a little overwhelming in concept, but it can only be as overwhelming as you make it. Depending on the scope of the project, implementation plans can be as short as one page. In fact that may be the best point to start from. You can extrapolate the details from there to refine the plan as necessary. The key is getting started.