Phase 4: Action Plan and Financial Implications
Development of an Action Plan
At this juncture in the planning process, you have not only identified a need and defined the desired outcome for your project, but you have also assessed the various internal and external factors which influence the problem. All of this information will play an important role as you develop a plan of action to facilitate change.
Strategic Interventions to Facilitate Outcome Achievement
Much like a nursing care plan, a plan to guide change includes a detailed work schedule of activities, tasks, and interventions which are all designed to facilitate achievement of the stated outcome. These activities, tasks, and interventions can be referred to as an action plan, and will also include target dates for completion.
The purpose of an action plan is to clarify for you (the project leader), your faculty or mentor and any other pertinent stakeholders, the specific plan of activities, tasks, and interventions which will be implemented, and when they are targeted to take place. If more than one person is involved in the implementation, the action plan can also serve as a communication tool to keep everyone on the same page, and may even denote ‘who’ is responsible for doing ‘what’, and ‘when’ those activities will be carried out.
Outputs and Deliverables
Within your action plan, you may have outputs or deliverables which are a necessary element in your planned change project (for example, the development of a new policy, staff education program, or teaching tool). You will include these outputs or deliverables within the action plan, as well as a date by which they should be attained or completed. Like other activities or interventions, outputs serve to facilitate achievement of the overarching project outcome. For example, a revised policy on catheter care and mandatory staff in-service sessions may facilitate achievement of an outcome geared toward the reduction of CAUTI on a particular unit.
As you develop your action plan, consider the resources which will be necessary to actualize the plan. These may be human resources, financial resources, and/or material resources. Making note of the necessary resources will inform the project budget.
As you develop an action plan, consider the following:
- What steps need to be taken to facilitate outcome achievement?
- What are the target dates for action steps, and who is responsible?
- What stakeholders need to be engaged in the process, and how will that engagement take place?
- What resources will be needed (human, financial, material)?
- How will these resources be secured and what expenses will be involved?
- Are there any special steps needed to assure that the necessary resources are available for use?
- Are there specific outputs that will be needed to facilitate the achievement of the overarching project outcome (such as a new policy or other deliverable)?
- If so, are they clearly incorporated into the action plan?
Consideration of Financial Resources
Managing fiscal resources is critical for efficient operations at the unit or organizational level. MSN-prepared nurse leaders are involved in managing the financial aspect of planned change projects that may involve stakeholders and resources both internal and external to the organization. Understanding the relationships between available resources, revenue, and expenses can influence efficiency of a project, and its future sustainability.
Just as with any personal budget that you might use, budgeting for planned change initiatives requires intentional planning. The advanced practice nurse must gather information in order to construct a solid budgetary plan to project the expenses that will occur.
Identifying Resources and Projecting Cost
Budgeting for the project is important as you plan for action steps and interventions. To initiate the process of budgeting for a planned change project it is important to forecast or project the expenses that will be involved. This will require you to:
- Identify the resources necessary to implement the planned change project
- Financial resources
- Material resources
- Human resources
- Project or ‘forecast’ the expense or cost for the necessary resources
Identifying Sources of Funding
As you prepare a budget for the project, consider the funding sources available. Who will pay for the necessary resources to carry out the initiative? Will costs be absorbed by the organization? Are donations of resources a possibility? Will it be necessary to reallocate funds from other revenue streams to cover the project expenses?
Addressing Variance within Budgeted and Actual Expenses
Once the planned change project is underway, the advanced practice nurse will be responsible for managing the cost of the initiative. To facilitate this process, the nurse will note the actual expenses incurred for the necessary resources. When the actual cost differs from the projected cost, a variance occurs. Any variance that occurs between the projected and actual budget must be analyzed. As revenue and expenses deviate from the projected numbers, adjustments in the budget may be required.
Think About It
While the budgeting process may seem straightforward in terms of forecasting expenses and revenue, an effective budgeting process requires the nurse leader to anticipate and address variables that impact the budget in unexpected ways. As you forecast a budget for the planned change project, consider the following:
- What human, financial, and material resources are needed for your project?
- What expenses are associated with the required resources?
- What variables might impact the cost of the project resources?
- Should a variance occur, how might you address the situation?
- In what ways might a cost-benefit analysis demonstrate the long-term value of your planned change project?
Practicum Application and Activities
To be effective, an action plan should specify the activities and interventions that will be carried out in order to facilitate achievement of the project outcome. Also included on the action plan are target dates for implementation, along with a designation of the person(s) responsible.
Budgeting for the planned change project is necessary for efficient use of resources. In the early phases of any project, it is important to forecast or project the expenses necessary to carry out the action plan. During implementation, careful monitoring of actual expenses can help the nurse leader to identify and address variance that may occur.
Review the Johns Hopkins Appendix I located in the MSN Toolbox area of the course. Proceed with the following activities. Document your practicum-related activities on the Practicum Log:
- Prepare a plan with specific talking points to meet with your faculty (and practicum mentor if available) regarding an action plan and financial considerations for the planned change project. Think about how each activity and intervention can facilitate achievement of the project outcome.
- Meet with your faculty (and practicum mentor if available) to discuss the action plan and financial considerations for the planned change project.
- As the opportunity allows, identify, communicate, and collaborate with stakeholders impacted by plan of action.
- Complete the Johns Hopkins Appendix I document.
- Validate your work on Phase 4 with your faculty (and practicum mentor if available) as needed.
- Revise your work as necessary.
- Submit the Johns Hopkins Appendix I completed with your time log, once Phase 4 completed.