Do you need to start a project and don’t know how to organize it?
Are you having difficulty creating an efficient action plan, integrates the team, establishes the necessary tasks, and achieves excellent results?
Have you heard of the 5W2H method? Do you know what it is?
The 5W2H method is one of the most efficient management tools that exist and, incredible as it seems, one of the most simple and easy to use.
Do you know what 5W2H is? This combination of letters and numbers is nothing more than a qualified action plan structured in practical and well-defined stages.
In a dynamic and extremely competitive universe such as business, both activities and internal communications need to be fast and agile. And errors in the transmission of certain information can generate countless losses.
It’s precisely for this reason that the 5W2H method was created because it completely clarifies any possible questions that may arise about any business processes implemented in a company.
In this post, you will find out exactly how to do the 5W2H, and you will have access to some 5W2H templates and even a few examples of 5W2H to inspire you.
Are you ready?
So, let’s go!
See also: Process-based organization: the best way to generate value!
Why is it called the 5W2H method?
At first glance, it may seem complicated, but it’s really the exact opposite.
The 5W2H method is thus called to simplify the guidelines involved in each phase of the action plan to which it proposes.
Do you know what 5W2H is?
It’s easy! These are the seven questions it represents. Five start with W and 2 with H.
Check out these questions:
- How much?
Check out a simplified 5W2H table below. This is a brief explanation of each of the questions, in the order in which they should be analyzed:
|What?||What will be done?||action, steps, description|
|Why?||Why will it be done?||justification, reason|
|Where?||Where will it be done?||location|
|When?||When will it be done?||time, dates, deadlines|
|Who?||By whom will it be done?||responsibility for action|
|How?||How will it be done?||method, process|
|How much?||How much will it cost to make?||cost or expenses involved|
As you may have noticed, each step of the 5W2H matrix refers to a different question, and the answer to every question is the trigger for the next question.
Great, right? A practical and efficient way of organizing your action plans.
In short, it is an effective administrative tool. And because of its simplicity, it can be used by small, medium, and large companies that wish to record in an orderly and systematic manner their actions and workflows, from the simple scheduling of meetings to the most complex project executions.
And do you know who created the 5W2H tool? It was Japanese! Always looking for practical and intuitive ways to organize things …
The 5W2H is a well-used tool for the creation of action plans, although it’s not the only way to do it. Check out this video that gives other tips on how to create an action plan for a company project:
Read more: Process Mapping Techniques – The 7 steps in a project
Here’s how to use the 5W2H method correctly
For the correct application of the 5W2H method, before starting the worksheet, managers must indicate through strategic planning, previously prepared answers to problems they want to solve.
If necessary, they can ask employees directly or indirectly involved in the work team, through activities such as brainstorming, for example. But it is necessary to keep in mind three essential topics:
- Always keep focused on the cause of the problems, not the eventual effects they have caused. That is, try to create definitive solutions instead of palliative ones.
- The solutions implemented through the 5W2H method should be as objective as possible, avoiding side effects that may require further action to suppress them.
- Never settle for the first good idea: propose several approaches to the different situations analyzed, thus increasing your options and scope.
See also: Understand what the RACI matrix is and how to assemble this matrix of responsibilities
Check out how to answer each question on a 5W2H form
Answering the questions in a 5W2H action plan may be simple, but it does require some care.
If the answers are too vague, it will be difficult for the staff to understand what is really expected of each of them.
So here are some tips on how to fill out the questions on a 5W2H diagram.
The answer to this question corresponds to the project scope and the specific task of each team member.
That’s because you can create your 5W2H form by reserving a line for the project as a whole, helping members understand its context.
Then create a line for each employee and complete it with what they should do.
So if the project scope is to develop a new layout for the meeting room, the members’ obligations – what they should do – can be:
- Measure and draw the floor plan.
- Quote the new furniture.
- Design the electric network, with the places for lamps, lights, power outlets, etc.
This is one of the most important answers.
In relation to the project, it gives meaning to it. So in the example above, the reason for redoing the meeting room layout can be to accommodate more people and have adequate facilities for new multimedia equipment.
In the same way, for each project collaborator, it defines the reason for executing their tasks.
For example: Why draw the layout of the meeting room? So we can better size the furniture selection.
The place where things will happen and also where the project “will take effect”.
Thus, a virtual environment can be indicated as the place where the discussions and debates about the project will occur, as in a channel of the corporate communication software Slack, for example.
In the case of a project involving several departments or even companies, defining where the working meetings will take place is critical.
Finally, the place where the actions will take effect also helps the employees to understand the consequences of their activities.
So in our example, the floor of the meeting room will be shared on Google’s enterprise drive but will be implemented in the very room it represents.
Simply setting a start and end date for the project may not be enough.
Ideally, a timeline should be created, which can be attached to the 5W2H table.
Thus, for each employee, indicate when they should start and deliver their task, or more than one task, in fact.
If necessary, define milestones with intermediate deliveries to avoid accumulating activities at the end of the delivery period.
Obviously, it refers to those who are responsible for carrying out each task. In some cases, it may be that some of the employees work together in some activity. This should be clearly signaled to prevent two people from doing the same thing, rather than helping one to do the task in a collaborative way.
Explaining the “how” involves several possibilities.
It can be a detailed description of how you want tasks to be done, for example: Measure the room using a tape measure.
But most of the time, it’s about defining which software, methodologies, and even notations will be used.
See more examples:
- Make the diagram using “graphic” software. I suggest BPMN as a good notation, and you can see a free modeling tool here.
- Develop the project plan using the 5W2H methodology.
- Draw the process diagrams using BPMN notation.
In this way, everyone will “speak the same language” and avoid a mix-up when it comes to integrating tasks resulting in it being meaningless or useless.
Imagine, in our meeting room layout example, that the person in charge of deciding where the furniture is going to be placed receives the floor plan in a program that they can’t open on their computer.
If things are made clear, this kind of problem won’t happen.
We finally get to the project budget.
Thus, in addition to an estimate of how much it will cost, it is important to define the amount that each participant will be entitled individually.
Ideally, dates of accountability should be set to see if the budget is being followed.
This post may also interest you: 10 productivity tips from successful managers.
Do you want to use the 5W2H method in a business process mapping project? Use this template we have prepared for you:
5W2H method examples
To make things even easier to understand, take a look at this 5W2H model. This is an already completed 5W2H report:
Source: Applying the PDCA cycle for continuous improvement in a bovine confinement system: a case study
Let’s make our own 5W2H action plan example?
Imagine that you want to buy new computers for the sales team. Let’s make a plan of action so that the person in charge knows exactly what to do:
- What?: Get quotes for 10 new computers from at least 5 different sellers.
- Why?: The current computers are at the end of their useful life, slow and obsolete.
- Where?: Sales department.
- When?: By the end of the month.
- Who?: Peter Smith.
- How?: Search the internet and then call to negotiate in person.
- How much?: A maximum of 5% of the annual IT budget.
Can you see how it should be clear to Peter Smith of what he needs to do? Deadlines, scope, reasons and everything else?
So when doing your action plan, ideally you should use a table, a 5W2H form where the responsibilities and the answers to the questions for each team member are very clear to everyone.
In this case, if one employee depends on another completing one task so they can start theirs, it can drain that employee’s efficiency.
In the same way, if someone notices that they can help others to do their tasks, a certain synergy may arise in the group.
Is it still not very clear to you how to do a 5W2H analysis or how to use the 5W2H method when creating your action plan? If so, check out this video:
Have you heard about BPM technology? Business Process Management tools like HEFLO facilitate the application of the 5W2H method as an approach to improving business processes.
How do you make action plans in your company? Do you use the 5W2H method, for example? Or other methodologies? Answer these questions in the comments and also participate in our poll: