Our literature schoolteacher repeated, ‘Do not start to write your composition before planning it’. And it worked! Then professor in University insisted that ‘planning is the key function in project management’. Now, as a mentor, I confirm their words. Preparing RAP action plan takes some time, but this time is spent productively. You write, read it several times, analyse and plan, assess the tasks and remember everything. By the time you complete the action plan with timetable, you will have a clear vision of the RAP process. This can make your writing a real masterpiece.
There are lot of talk about usefulness of RAP action plan and timetable, but I did not find example or detailed step by step instruction how to prepare them. Here I would try to fill this gap with an example of simple action plan prepared for topic 6 “A critical review of key factors or indicators in the motivation of employees in an organisation”. But please be flexible and creative, do not try to follow rigidly my recommendations. Remember that RAP is a creative work and your way of thinking and approach to managing this project could move you in a different direction.
Step 1. Set RAP main goal.
Try to deduce main goal from the topic name. For our example of topic 6, we would formulate it as ‘to critically review key factors in the motivation of employees in ABC Co’.
Step 2. Analyse current concepts and standards.
After you understand your main goal, it is time to identify and comprehend current standards and concepts related to your topic area. For our example, you can search ‘motivation theories’ in internet and find that they are usually subdivided between content (needs) and process theories. For topic 8 (An analysis and evaluation of the business and financial performance of an organisation over a three year period), you can find that financial analysis is often split between horizontal, vertical and ratios analyses; and business analysis could be SWOT, value chain, BCG matrix, etc. For topics on corporate governance, suitable standards could be SOX or Turnbull Report. For some topics on accounting, basic standards could be IFRS or management accounting principles.
Step 3. Identify overall research approach, specific objectives and methods to achieve them.
There is a requirement to ‘explain your overall research approach’ in the published guidance on the RAP that causes some confusion among students. I have prepared a special article about research approaches most suitable for social sciences that you could find here. If you feel confident about overall approach, then you could identify specific objectives and relevant methodology to achieve them. For our topic 6 example, suppose that after studying process theories of motivation you decide to try process approach as an overall research approach. Maybe this would mean that your first objective it to study work processes, second is to identify some internal factors (like desires, necessities) influencing employees’ needs to participate in those processes, third is to identify external factors or instruments (like bonuses, praises, etc.) that manager could apply to influence employees’ work processes, etc.
Step 4. Identify specific actions needed for achievement of your objectives by means of chosen methodology.
Each action should have some result. Think about results required for each specific objective when you elaborate separate actions.
Step 5. Add time-table and comments for your planned actions.
Final version of simple RAP action plan could be like this:
Simple example of RAP action plan prepared for topic 6 “A critical review of key factors or indicators in the motivation of employees in an organisation”.