What Is a Change Management Plan?

Published: December 7, 2020
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Change management as a concept has gained a great deal of interest in recent years. With the rate of evolution seen in business, IT, and general client expectations, organizations need to be capable of structured transformation. By taking a calculated approach to initiatives designed to change or transform management practices, software usage, support processes, or anything else, businesses can optimize the benefits while simultaneously minimizing disruption to value-producing projects and daily tasks.

An essential tool used to create and implement change management initiatives is the ‘change management plan’. Also known as a ‘change plan’, this is essentially a roadmap that outlines the various elements of a proposed change, such as the activities and roles that will be essential for carrying it out. At the same time, change management plans also specify how different people, teams, departments, and stakeholders will be impacted by the project, as well as how to alleviate their worries and reduce resistance. 

One final aspect of change plans worth bringing up is their focus on measuring the impact of change. A change management plan will define the metrics for assessing the success of the transformation initiative. This helps to outline how the initiative will create value, a key element of winning over stakeholders and other potential detractors.

Although change management plans are just a single part of larger business transformation projects and programs, they nonetheless have an important role to play. So, what else do you need to know about change management plans?

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What does a change management plan include?

The contents of a change management plan will usually depend on the exact nature of the initiative in question. It can also vary depending on what kind of methodology change teams are applying. That said, most change plans will include:

  • The reasons for the proposed changes
  • Scope of the recommended changes
  • What issues the changes will create
  • What job roles will be affected
  • What policy or organizational changes will be required
  • The KPIs and metrics that will be used to measure success and progress
  • Stakeholders linked to the project who will need to be won over
  • Members of the change management team

When is having a change management plan necessary?

It is important to realize that any kind of project or program will inevitably create changes to a business. Whether these changes are large or small, an organization must be capable of responding to them in advance.

A useful rule to remember is that a change management plan will most likely be required for any change or transformation initiatives that need a strategic approach. Failing to plan out such large-scale changes will inevitably lead to disruption as well as resistance from employees and managers worried about their own targets. This is true even for temporary changes.

Ask yourself…

  • Will my project cause disruption to daily processes?
  • How much of my organization will be affected?
  • Will the change impact how my organization deals with clients or customers?

How to create a change management plan

Structured approaches such as the APMG’s Change Management framework typically outline processes for creating a change management plan. These are based on years of hands-on experience, as well as contemporary knowledge about change management best practices. It is usually best for a change manager to familiarize themself with at least one demonstrably effective methodology, especially if they are going to be dealing with large-scale transformation initiatives.

The change management plan creation process generally involves:

  1. Starting with a clear goal – The plan must outline the nature and implications of the change 
  2. How to reach the goal – While a change plan should list the tasks required to carry out the project, these should not be finalized too quickly. This is because there will likely be feedback from stakeholders and managers set to be affected
  3. Outlining who will be affected – Knowing this in advance will enable the change team to raise awareness of the benefits of the change and win support from those who might otherwise try to block it. Knowing how to frame the initiative in terms that resonate will stakeholders will be particularly important
  4. Deciding on KPIs – The success of the project must be quantifiable and understandable to stakeholders and high-level managers. This means being able to align the results with metrics relating to business goals
  5. Deciding on how to alleviate resistance – A change management plan should outline what resources are required, where to procure them, and what kind of resistance the team might meet. Raising awareness of the initiative’s benefits will go a long way in reducing the number of issues others have, though they should also have a chance to deliver their own feedback before the initiative gets underway
  6. Outlining any required education/ training – Some employees may need upskilling in order to accommodate the changes. If so, a change management plan will ideally lay out a training plan that includes online training providers, subject matter experts, and so on
  7. Choosing communication channels – How will stakeholders and those affected by the initiatives contact the team or ask questions? Adopting team management software like Monday can be a big help in enabling efficient communication
  8. Staffing the change team – For a transformation initiative to proceed, it needs to have the right expertise. This can include those in leadership roles, technical specialists, and so on
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