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Action Item: What, Why, and How?

What is an action item? Why is it crucial? How to create? Is there good example? And what are tips to create one perfect action? We get all covered here.

When you come up with the action item for the first time, you may feel very confused about it. Even if you are those who ever heard about the action item many times, you may not have an overall understanding. 

However, it is impossible to implement action items on the project with high efficiency, if it is unclear to you. And the project may not succeed to finish without a great action item. 

That is why we will help you understand all about the action item here. 

Action item
Action item

Part 1. What is The Action Item Meaning?

The action item is the actionable task with detailed descriptions including task contents, deadline, timeline, assignees, and more. Some of you may regard it as the to-do list. It is completely wrong. It is more than a to-do list. 

In the action item, you should consider all elements that will be involved in the specific task from the beginning to the end. 

In general, it should contain the following details:

  1. Who is responsible for the work?
  2. What the work is and what details does it contain?
  3. How to complete the work?
  4. When the work should be started and finished?

When you have all answers to these four questions, your action item can be accomplished.

Part 2. Why Do You Need An Action Item?

We mentioned before that the action item would influence your project in many aspects. Here are the major effects it will bring to your work, task or project. 

  1. The Clarity of Roles and Responsibility

The action item explains everything about the work to your team members and it will assign the tasks to each member. They know what they are responsible for, what they should do, what is the goal of the task, is the timeline and deadline, and sometimes, how to complete it. Only when they understand all, can they work better. 

  1. Improve Productivity

When you implement action items for your project, you can make sure every team member knows what they should do and track the process. Also, the action items are broken down from the project goal which can help the whole team understand how to complete the project together. All these can help you improve the productivity of your team and make sure the project can be finished without delay. 

  1. Better Team Work and Collaboration

The action item is an effective way to communicate with your team members and help your team collaborate efficiently. As we all know, the most difficult thing in team work and collaboration is to understand each other. Your team members will go in the wrong direction without understanding correctly what you mean by the work. It can be fixed with an action item with detailed information. It can eliminate misleading. 

  1. Enhance Members Positivity

Understanding the tasks, working efficiently, and great team collaboration means successful tasks, then, successful tasks build a successful project. This can motivate your members and keep them positive with small success in the whole project. 

The benefit of the action item - enhance members' positivity.
The benefit of the action item – enhance members’ positivity.

Part 3. How to Create an Action Item?

After knowing it importance, you may want to know how to create one. It is very simple, just follow the below steps. 

Step One. Analyze the Project

When you have one project in your hand, you should make some research and analyze how to complete the project. At this stage, you may need to analyze the competitors, the previous projects, and more and list all subtasks for the projects. 

Step Two. Collect Information

The project cannot be done only by you. You need to assign the tasks to those who are capable to complete them. It is necessary to know their skills and workload at the hand. You should talk with the specific person when you decide to let him or her to task one specific task as you need to set the timeline for each task. 

Step Three. Create Action Item

To create the action item, you need to follow the below structure. 

Title: The tile allows team members to identify it. 

Task: The work that team members need to complete.

Task details: Describe the work in detail and make everything clear.

Files: If needed, you can add images, videos, and files to help team members have a better understanding. 

Assignee: The member who is responsible for this work.

Start time: When to start the work. 

End time: The deadline. 

Status: Scheduled, in process, completed.

Priority: The urgency of the task. 

It is a better way to use task management tools like ClickUp, Monday.com, and NTask to help you create the action item with ease. 

Monday.com task management tools
Monday.com task management tools

Step Four. Discuss With Your Team Members

You need to discuss and confirm with your team members about the work and make sure there is no misunderstanding of it. And if there is anything that needs to be updated, you can adjust it at this stage. 

Step Five. Update and Carry it Out

Update based on the feedback. And now all things are OK. You can carry it out and track it. 

Part 4. A Good Action Items Example

If you still do not have a clear understanding of the action item, you can check this great action item example. 

Your company boss lets your team increase the sales from $100K to $300K in this year. As a manager of a team or a project, you cannot convey this goal to your members directly. If you do so, your team members will be very upset and do not know how to do it. You need to translate it into action items like the below table. 

Action ItemsDetailsAssignees Start TimeDeadlineStatusPriority
Have a meeting to discuss a new SEO content strategyEach member who is responsible for SEO content needs to analyze the website and give your strategy to discuss in the meeting. Get the final strategy for this year. Bella, Emma, Heidi27th Jun 202210th Jul 2022In ProcessHigh
Create the strategy for the YouTube channel for the following 6 monthsThe goal is the increase the views each month from 10K to 50K. Daniel1st Jul 202215th Jul 2022ScheduledHigh
Increase the ads costs from $5K to $10K each monthNeed to make sure the sales can increase from $10K to 30K each month. Julie1st Jul 20221st Jan 2023ScheduledMedium

This table is some for the action item. You can have a look and follow this template to create your own. 

Part 5. Tips to Create an Effective Action Item

It is not enough to know the guide and sample if you want to create an effective action item. There are many things you should consider. Here are some tips for you to follow. 

  1. Shot and Clear

The content and description should be accurate and short. Do not write sentences that are not related to the action as it may mislead your team members. 

  1. With the Help of Images, Videos, or Gifs

Sometimes, it is not easy to describe one action with words. In this case, you can use images, videos, and gifs to help you understand it. 

  1. Use Assignee’s Language

Different people will have different ways to express something. To help your assignee understand the action, you should stand by their side and use the language they can understand easily. 

  1. Consider Assignee’s Skill

If you do not take the assignee’s skill into consideration, you may assign the work to the one that can not work for it. Also, when you set the deadline, you need to evaluate based on their skills. 

  1. Instructions

Do not describe the action, instruct it. You need to give the direction of the work and tell the team members how to finish it. 

  1. Actual Due Date

The deadline should be the actual date that will not let anyone interpret it in other ways. 

  1. Templates

Following the templates can make everything easier. You can search around to find the action item template and create yours. 

  1. Use Task Management Tool

There are many great task management tools that can help you create action items easily. It can help you track the process and get notifications for any updates. Here are several task management tools you can choose:

  1. Monday.com
  2. ClickUp
  3. NTask
  4. Asana
  5. Trello

Final Words

Whatever businesses you are working for, action item plays an important role. It can help you transform projects or tasks into actionable work. Follow this complete guide and create your effective action item now. 

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