Improvement tools: Action design tool

Page last updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2017 - 11:51am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

A clear goal is a good place to start in business improvement and innovation. Well-designed action makes it more likely you will successfully achieve the goal.

The action design tool helps you work out the right things to do to achieve your goal effectively and efficiently. It also helps to track and measure the success of your action along the way.

This tool can give you the confidence that you know what you need to do, when you need to do it and who will be involved.

A good action design includes:

Steps for developing an action design

  1. Develop  a goal about what you want to achieve. Try to make it SMARTT, that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, targeted and timeframed.
  2. Think about what it is essential to have in place if you are to achieve the goal. These are the Critical success factors. They are not what you are going to do. You will think about that in a later step.
  3. For each of the critical success factors, think about how you will know if it is in place. These are the Key performance indicators.
  4. For each of the critical success factors work out the key actions that will have to be implemented for the critical success factor to be in place.
  5. Work out the timing for the key actions. When does each key action need to be done? This information can be brought together into a calendar.
  6. For each of the key actions decide who will be responsible for implementing it.


The table below shows part of an action design for a beef business with a goal of increasing growth rate by 15% within three years. It gives an example of a critical success factor, key performance indicators and key actions. The key actions include when the actions should be taken and the name of the person responsible in brackets.

Table 1 Part of an action design associated with a goal of increasing growth rate by 15% within three years
Critical success factors Key performance indicators Key actions
  1. It is critical to have information on nutritional supply and demand patterns
  • Charts of nutritional supply and demand
  • Data being used to make grazing and feed management decisions
  1. Monitor feed availability and quality every week (Joe)
  2. Plot available nutrition against demand every week (Greg)
  3. Identify nutritional surpluses and deficits every week (Greg)

Other tools to use with the action design tool

The action  design tool can be used in Step 4 of the CI&I - Continuous improvement and innovation process.

The SMARTT goal tool can be used to develop the goal for the action design.

More information on critical success factors (CSFs) and key performance indicators (KPIs) is availabe in the Business improvement toolbox.

Once you have your action design you can use tools like Gantt charts, PERT diagrams, timelines and budgeting tools to add more detail.

Support to use the tool

Please contact us if you would like help to develop an action design.

A worksheet to use when you are developing your action design is available in the 'Documents' section on the far right.