Keeping on track
The success of any action plan is reflected in the action rather than the plan. It is therefore important that you are able to keep on track of what’s happening with the plan, what is being achieved (and what isn’t), and the impact for your community.
To help you to do this you should have a clear plan with SMART outcomes, clear allocated actions and responsibilities, and timescales for carrying these out.
Monitoring and reviewing
Community-led action plan progress meetings should take place on a regular basis. This will vary depending on the scope and scale of the plan but it is useful to hold them at least once every three months. The key questions for monitoring (see monitoring template) are:
- Are we doing what we said we would do, when we said we would do it?
- Is anything not going according to plan, and if so, what are we doing about it?
Alternatively, you may wish to appoint a plan implementation sub-group whose role is to keep an eye on progress and to alert the wider group to any issues and/or further opportunities arising from the implementation of the plan.
Feeding back on progress
It’s absolutely vital that the wider community are kept informed on progress with the plan and have a chance to feed in their comments/views on progress. As previously recommended it is important that a variety of methods are used to ensure that information gets out (in an appropriate format) to the widest possible audience and that they have the opportunity to feed in their views, comments and ideas.
Some useful ways of doing this include:
- A community-led action plan newsletter (6 monthly)
- A community-led action plan Facebook page
- Community-led action plan update session(s) on a 6 monthly basis
- Presentations to key local groups on request
Whatever methods are used to keep the community informed of progress it is useful to follow a standard template in order to ensure consistency of the kind of information that is presented. The feeding back fact sheet should assist you here.
Reviewing and sustaining the community-led action plan
In addition to this it is important to take time to review overall progress on a regular basis – it is recommended that this takes place at least once a year - and, in addition to considering the progress being made against outcomes, this review should consider the process that is being followed and what is being learned. The key questions for this session are:
- What progress are we making towards our outcomes, and what evidence
- Are we working well together?
- What are we learning?
You may want to consider enlisting outside help with this as often people who are not directly involved with the process are more likely to be able to take an objective view on how things are going. This may be someone from another area who may be involved in community-led action planning themselves, or it may be someone from the local area who is not directly involved in delivering the action plan. Either way their role will be that of a ‘critical friend’ – offering constructive feedback and assisting the group to learn from what’s working well and what’s not working so well. An outline plan for a review session is included as a fact sheet.
No long-term plan will ever be implemented exactly the way it was written. Communities, and their needs and aspirations, change over time so there is a need to be able to respond flexibly to these changing circumstances. A useful way of ensuring that the community-led action plan continues to develop and be responsive is to hold an annual review of the plan which involves as many people as possible from the local community.
A celebration event can be a useful way of doing this which you may want to organise along the same lines as the community visioning event you held at the start of the process.