Anyone looking for an effective management tool cannot give up a 5W2H spreadsheet.
Despite its somewhat strange name, this instrument is very simple to understand and easy to apply.
And the best: no matter what the size of your business, making a 5W2H action plan brings you closer to your goals.
As you will see in this article, the methodology offers one of the most complete approaches in terms of strategic planning.
Just identify a problem and build a 5W2H table to get closer to the solution.
Do you want a little help to achieve better results and project a more profitable future for the company?
So, follow the reading and know reasons to bet on 5W2H.
What is 5W2H?
5W2H is a management tool used in the strategic planning of companies. It starts from a goal to organize the actions and determine what will be done to achieve it, for what reason, by whom, how, when and where it will be done, besides estimating how much it will cost.
Generally proposed in the form of a spreadsheet or table, the methodology is often used in projects to assess, monitor and ensure that activities are carried out with clarity and excellence by all involved.
It works as a kind of guide, allowing you to list step by step the strategy to be adopted.
Not by chance, it is an excellent alternative to develop an action plan, whatever the need or problem.
Due to its characteristics, it can be a solution applicable in all types of companies, in the most varied areas.
What does 5W2H mean?
As already mentioned, the name may be scary at first, but the 5W2H tool process is quite simple.
Basically, it starts from a problem and performs the analysis on its coping from seven questions – which is what gives the methodology its name.
The five “Ws” represent (in English): what (what), why (why), where (where), when (when) and who (who).
The two “Hs” indicate: how (how) and how much it costs (how much).
Now everything makes more sense, doesn’t it?
But the meaning can be made even clearer with an example.
Let’s imagine that your company has an X problem.
Here is an explanation of the 5W2H method that can help you solve this specific problem efficiently:
• What ?: what will be done?
First of all, it is time to identify and describe the problem properly. Does the severity of this problem vary during the year? Are the operational definitions clear? Is the results measurement system accurate and repeatable?
Then determine what will be accomplished, that is, what the goal is to achieve.
• Why ?: why will it be done?
Any known explanation that contributes to the solution of the problem must be declared.
It is necessary to delimit reasons that justify why the goal was proposed.
• Where ?: Where will it be done?
If a defect occurs in one part of the process, where is it located? A location verification sheet can help.
From this diagnosis, it is easier to determine in which sector of the company the problem in question will be faced.
• When ?: when will it be done?
You have a goal to achieve, so you need to determine when each of the proposed tasks will be accomplished and also the duration of each one.
A support tool here is a schedule of actions.
• Who ?: by whom will it be done?
First, see who the individuals associated with the problem are. Which customers are complaining? Which operators are having difficulties?
Then, define who will be responsible for each action planned to achieve the goal you set.
• How ?: how will it be done?
In the previous steps, you have defined almost everything. But there is no way to put the strategy into practice without going into details about how it will be done.
It is necessary to establish a specific plan for each necessary action so that the goal determined at the beginning is achieved.
• How much ?: How much will it cost?
It is useless to create a crazy plan if it is not adjusted to the company’s financial reality.
It is time to look at the cash register and set a viable budget to pursue the proposed goal.
Depending on your ability to do so, it may be necessary to make adjustments to deadlines and the actions themselves.
The importance of the 5W2H spreadsheet
The 5W2H method can be a great ally for companies that want to grow and remain active for a long period.
Above all, it is an instrument that allows us to project a better future.
Given the current economic scenario with a highly competitive market, not having a strategic plan can have negative impacts on your actions and processes.
As a consequence, this causes losses that could be anticipated, in addition to a reduction in the ability to compete with the competition .
The 5W2H analysis stands out from other management methodologies as it is a simple, complete tool that optimizes your time.
In addition, it is very dynamic and allows for timely adjustments and modifications even after the implementation of its action plan.
The problem solving provided by 5W2H can be used by anyone with a focus on business or even personal interests.
In a way, we can allude to the structure of the spreadsheet to the saying “divide and conquer”, since planning is thoroughly subdivided into several stages.
Then, it is given a more comprehensive understanding and, therefore, greatly facilitating the systematization and implementation of ideas.
My company is small. Is it worth using the 5W2H method?
The great asset of this methodology is the practicality with which it can be applied.
This allows small, medium and large companies to adopt the method to solve a problem or perform some other type of action.
This is because it does not require an entire specialized technical team behind the planning.
It is enough to have someone who knows how it works and how to execute the whole process and structure it in order to guarantee the success of the actions.
Even in individual ventures, even when the manager acts alone, it is perfectly feasible to put the 5W2H into practice.
At what point can I consider applying the tool?
As already mentioned, an interesting point is that the 5W2H can be used in several situations, including not only with regard to business.
Do you want to understand how the tool can change your personal life?
Suppose you and your group of friends decided to travel on any holiday.
Anyone who has done an adventure like this knows how complicated it can be to organize everything, especially in relation to expenses, right?
But if you decide to set up a simple table using this method, you will see how you will have more control over the situation.
So you can avoid unnecessary worries and problems.
If 5W2H can help you take a trip with your friends, imagine what the methodology is capable of doing for the benefit of a company.
The tool can be useful for putting together an action plan for different situations within the business.
It ranges from the launch of a new product on the market to the reduction of costs with internal company expenses, such as energy or water.
Nice, isn’t it?
After all, the method aims to optimize the planning of any activity and, as we all know, they can vary from business to business, according to the niche in which we operate.
And if you’re almost convinced, but still need more situations in which 5W2H can make a difference, here are just a few:
• Equipment maintenance
• Strategic planning with a focus on profitability
• In the Human Resources department to create a process for recruiting and selecting employees
• To increase team productivity, engagement and motivation
• To manage the customer portfolio well and gradually expand it.
In short: to start using the 5W2H, just identify a need. What is yours?
Is there a correct way to apply the 5W2H method?
We have just seen that the 5W2H tool can be applied in different situations, according to the needs and reality of each company.
So, there is no doubt about its relevance in the business environment.
But is there a right way to apply the method?
There is no single formula, but suggested paths to take.
For example, first of all, the manager must consider a strategic plan in which he brings the previously thought answers about the problems he wants to solve.
A good practice is to have the help of employees in this process.
Both employees directly or indirectly involved in the problem in question can participate.
Activities such as brainstorming can be excellent for interacting with your team and extracting the necessary information.
It is also worth mentioning that it is necessary to keep in mind these three main topics:
• The spectrum of actions must always be related to what causes the problems and not to their possible effects. In other words, try to create lasting, non-palliative solutions.
• The 5W2H method should implement solutions as objective as possible, as this avoids the side effects that may end up requiring a series of other corrective actions.
• Never settle for the first good idea. Try to define different approaches to the situations analyzed. This raises the options and also the scope of the action.
How to make the 5W2H worksheet
Now that you’ve made it this far, it’s time to get your hands dirty and learn how to make a 5W2H spreadsheet in practice.
First, be sure to establish what are the real causes of the problem to be solved or the goal to be achieved.
There is no rule for the ordering of the steps / columns in your spreadsheet, but ideally, the first is always “What”, since that is the description of your problem or goal.
In the end, your spreadsheet will look more or less like the chart below.
Question to be answered
What to fill?
What needs to be done?
The answer is nothing more than the definition of the problem or goal that you want to achieve.
Is it increasing sales ? Improve production?
Make sure that this definition is as clear as possible so that everyone involved can perform their duties correctly.
After all, no one will be able to read your thoughts and know what needs to be done if you don’t say so.
Why does this need to be done?
After defining step 1, you need to justify it.
Why does it need to be done? Is it to solve problems or what?
Remembering that, when you explain the real reasons behind that, employees tend to be more engaged and work so that the problem is solved or the goal achieved.
It is different from when you are simply asked to do something you don’t understand.
Where will it be done?
In the case of small businesses, with no division into departments, many tend to skip this part and define the location as the company as a whole.
But when it comes to a larger company, with several departments working together, it is necessary to further detail the exact location where the action will be carried out.
Who will be responsible?
Remember your first W on the worksheet? The fourth step, then, is to define who will help you achieve your goal.
Again, in the case of large companies, with a large flow of processes and actions, it is necessary to define who will be responsible for each of the tasks.
Just be careful not to assign an activity to someone who is not qualified enough to perform it. This can hurt your action plan later on.
In addition to defining who will be responsible for each action, it is also legal to explain who will benefit from it.
This keeps the team more engaged, as the employee knows the purpose and who is doing it for.
When will it be done?
All good planning that is worthwhile must have a stipulated deadline for the actions to be carried out and the objectives achieved.
And, in the case of 5W2H, it would be no different.
So, set these deadlines correctly and communicate to your team.
After all, no one likes to be charged for results ahead of time or to work under pressure.
How will it be done?
This is the time to detail which path will be followed so that the objective is achieved.
Ideally, you should be as specific as possible to avoid rework or failures during processes.
If those who are going to do the action already have experience in the subject and know what they are doing, less harm.
But if the person is not very knowledgeable, you need to guide him well so that everything goes according to plan.
How much will it cost?
Finally, it’s time to calculate how much your action plan will cost to come into play.
This step is very important, as it helps to analyze whether the resources you have will be able to meet the plan’s demand.
If not, adjustments will need to be made in previous steps.
So, ready to make your 5W2H spreadsheet?
To help you further on this journey, we have separated some examples of application of this method.
5W2H for social networks
Social networks are present in the daily lives of almost anyone who owns a smartphone or has access to the internet.
Therefore, a 5W2H spreadsheet can be a good way to plan your actions on these channels and thus reach your audience easily.
5W2H for cost savings
As we mentioned, the method is excellent for testing changes in the company, be it structural, financial or personnel.
5W2H for attracting personnel
Having a team with employees who know how to perform their functions well is essential for the success of any company.
Did you see how simple, uncomplicated 5W2H is and a great ally in your strategic planning?
Certainly, the acronym is much more complex than the application of the method, which can be very useful to achieve your goals.
As a final tip, remember to put in place a business diagnosis before starting to build your action plan.
After all, as obvious as it may be, it is necessary to have a clearly defined problem before thinking about the solution.
Don’t be afraid to test the methodology in your company.
You just have to win.