How to build a project change management plan [+template]

A comprehensive change management plan template to execute the next transformational change at your company
This template was built with Coda, the all-in-one doc that brings words, data, and teams together. Play with the template below or copy the doc to save your edits.

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Finally sees the truth about me
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Whether it's adopting new software or merging with another company, people are generally averse to change and prefer the status quo. Change management is an important topic, particularly for large companies. While you may be able to help change and guide a few individuals at a time, change management has to do with change at the organizational level.
How do you ensure employees at all levels understand the change? How do you involve key stakeholders in the process so they may become ambassadors for the organizational change? These are all questions a change management plan template should solve.
What is a change management plan template?
A change management plan is simply a document that details the strategy and business processes for adopting organizational change. It should not only contain the necessary information for individuals, but for different business units as well. You may find a change management plan within a broader template.
This post will tell you what goes into a change management plan template, but it's important to understand different change management methodologies and models before going off and writing your change management plan. Your organization may already have a set of standards or templates for conducting the change management process, so you should talk to your project management officers about internal standards.
Some popular methodologies (along with a quick summary) include:
- Change management model that stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement
- Developed by Dr. Kotter and the model involves steps like "create a sense of urgency" and "build a guiding coalition"
- A McKinsey change management model that focuses on coordination rather than structure within your organization
You could utilize any of these change management models and create a plan that helps you implement a successfull change. The change management plan template you use should be easily customizable and fit the needs of your project. Again, ask yourself a few questions when deciding which change management plan and template to use:
What are my organization's existing frameworks or standards for change management?
Should I utilize an industry-specific template for change management?
What change management models meet the needs of my project?
What are the benefits of a change management plan template and why is it important?
The main benefit of a change management template is that it increases the return on investment for the proposed change. Without a change management plan template in place, you will have a half-baked plan that doesn't lay out a , timeline, and job roles. The result? Miscommunication about the change, increasing risks, and more disruption to the day-to-day work of your employees.
A change management plan template is important because there can be a lot at stake for your organization. This depends on whether the change management is incremental or transformational.
Incremental change management
This type of change management is typically easier to implement because it involves fewer people and the change is relatively small in size. It may be something as simple as the internal dashboard name change or the change of a shared password for a SaaS tool. This type of change management is based on the current state of your project or business.
Transformational change management
This is the juicy stuff and a lot is at stake. This type of change is a fundamental shift in how your organization operates and may take a few years for the change to take place. A merger with another company or company restructuring are examples of this type of change. Unlike incremental change management, this type of change is based on the future state of where the organization would like to be.
Guiding change
The goal of a change management plan template is to guide your organization into changing existing behaviors. In the book Switch, Chip and Dan Heath describes the two sides of the brain that guides people's behavior. The rational side (analytical) is the Rider and the emotional side (instincts) is the Elephant. To guide people to change their behaviors, you must guide the Rider:
Direct the Rider. What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity. So provide crystal-clear direction. (Think 1% milk.) Motivate the Elephant. What looks like laziness is often exhaustion. The Rider can’t get his way by force for very long. So it’s critical that you engage people’s emotional side. - Switch
switch.jpg
Source: LSE
Key elements of the organizational change management plan template.
As the project manager who is shepherding the change management plan at your organization, understanding what goes into the change management plan template will ensure everything goes smoothly. This Coda template is meant to be shared with your project team, project sponsor, and project stakeholders so that they understand your change management strategy. We also advised using it along with our . Here are some of the key elements in a change management plan template that you will need to write:
Definition of proposed change
The first step in any change management plan template is defining what will actually be changed. What software is being replaced? What internal process is being altered? While it's tempting to go straight to the action plan to fix some problem in the organization, defining the proposed change gives outside stakeholders who may not be as familiar with the business on what the change entails. If your organization uses change request forms, the definition of the proposed change is one of the first things listed on this form as well.
Reasons for a change
The reasons for the proposed change are almost like the "business case" for the change. This usually involves analyzing the current state of your business or organization. Some event in the current state of the business triggered the need for this change to occur. On your change management plan template, the reasons could be a structured table or a bullet list. This Coda template uses simple bullets to list out the reasons for the change.
Intended & expected outcomes
Your project stakeholders will have their own expectations on what this change means for their teams and business units. As the project manager, you should be meeting with people in finance, marketing, customer support, or whichever team will feel the impact of the change. This way you get different perspectives on what they think the outcome of the change will be.
When listing out the intended and expected outcomes, it may be helpful to list out the baselines or current state of each stakeholder or business unit. This way, you can show that the change has a positive impact on their business. Effective change management involves communicating with all stakeholders the expected outcomes before the change happens.
Change management roles
This is a simple list of all your team members who will be assisting with the change management process. In large organizations where there is a formal change management process, there may be a change control board. These team members are part of the change management team that decides when the change will occur and approve the change management plan overall. The change control board may have their own internal processes and templates for managing change as well.
Change control process
The change control process is the overall logistics for how change requests get submitted to the change management plan for the change control board to review. Filling out the change management plan template may be considered part of the change control process. By writing out this process, project stakeholders and new employees can see the standardized process your organization uses for change management. The change control process usually starts with a change request form that someone in the organization fills out. The change control process will also detail the approval and communication process for a given change.
Analysis of resources
Before you can start on your project, you must analyze the resources available to you. Resources can come in many forms. This could be human resources, technology resources, and even natural resources. By doing an analysis of your current resources, you can better plan for the change that will occur from the change management plan.
In addition to listing out the current resources you have at your disposal, the change management plan template can also show how those resources will be deployed during the change management process. Perhaps you will need extra integration engineers or product trainers to ensure employees are fully trained on the new software.
Milestones
Setting milestones in the change management plan template is allows your project team and stakeholders to view the progress of the change management. You can add real metrics to the milestones so it's clear for everyone in your organization to see. This is the day-to-day tracking of how the change management is going once the change management has been approved.
In most change management plan templates, milestones are visualized in a table format. This is why some organizations use Microsoft Excel to show their change management milestones. This change management plan template in Coda utilizes a structured table as well to show which milestones have been achieved.
Projected costs
No change management plan template would be complete without the hard costs for the change. Your change management plan template will most likely have multiple line items for the major costs involved in the change. When the costs involve FTEs (full-time employees), you may want to get the average salary of an FTE to back into the dollar cost of the FTE.
During the lifecycle of the change, the project scope might change and new project costs will come up that were not planned for in the budget. You should try your best to predict these unexpected costs when doing a of the change management plan.
👉 Get started with this change management plan template.
Copy this template
After you copy this change management plan template, you can store multiple change management plan documents for all of your different projects (see the “folder”). This page contains sub-pages of change management plan docs which anyone can see as long as they are shared this Coda doc.
How to navigate through changes with Coda's change management plan template.
Step 1: Add a list of your projects.
Before you start writing your first change management plan, you need to have a project you want to start the change management or change control process for. On the page, you’ll see a table. Add your list of unique projects here that your team is working on. If you only have one project, then just write the project name and description in the first row and delete the rest. You will be able to reference this list of projects in each change management plan document you write.
Step 2: Duplicate the template for the change management plan.
The page contains all the headers and tables you need to fill out for a change management plan. At the top of this page, you will see a gray Duplicate this page button. After clicking that button, you’ll see a copy of the page show up in the “folder.” The page is just another page in this Coda template, but you can nest pages within this page. All your individual change management plans will be nested within the so you can quickly click on each change management plan.
Step 3: Select the project and fill out change management plan
Once you have duplicated the page in the previous step, select the appropriate project at the top of the newly duplicated page. The list of projects that show up in that first dropdown come from the projects you entered in Step 1. Once you have selected the project, go through each heading one by one and fill out the change management plan. Some of the headings may not apply to your organization or project, so you can delete those headings.
Most change management and change control processes require approvers to approve the plan. At the bottom of each change management plan in this template, you’ll see a single row that contains people who need to approve the plan. In the dropdown, select the people who are required to approve the plan. As your teammates read and approve the plan, they can click on the button in the Who has approved column to show their approval for the change management plan.
Step 4 (Optional): Customize the projects table and lists
On the page, you’ll see all the underlying tables that make up this template. When you add stakeholders or milestones in each change management plan, they will show up on this page. Each stakeholder, milestone, and approvers are associated with a project (what you do in Step 3). You can customize these lists to have additional columns that matter for your projects and organization. After you share this template with your team, you can add them to the so that people know the key people involved in your projects.
Change management plan templates FAQs
How do you write a change management plan?
The easiest way to write a change management plan is to use a template (like this one). The plan should have an existing structure so that you can start filling out the plan like you would fill out any other form. In order to write a change management plan, you should use existing standards that your organization has for change management. If your organization doesn't have any existing standards, you can utilize well-known change management models like ADKAR, the 8-step process, and the 7-S framework.
Which documents should be included in a change management plan?
The change management plan should include multiple documents to support the various parts of the plan. For instance, a financial analysis should be included as supporting documentation for the projected costs of the change management plan. Previous documents or meeting notes should be included as supporting evidence for the reason for the change management. One of the benefits of this change management plan template in Coda is that you don't need to create a separate Excel or Word file for these documents. They can all be created in Coda since Coda supports both tables for deeper analysis and long-form documents for writing.
What is the purpose of a change management plan?
The purpose of a change management plan is to list out the step-by-step process for an organization wishing to make a change. By creating this document and sharing it with relevant stakeholders, the change management plan serves as the single source of truth for how a specific change will be implemented in the organization.
What is the difference between a change management plan and a project plan?
The main difference between a change management plan and a traditional project plan is the people. A transformational change in an organization can impact many business units and people. The change can also impact intangible aspects of a company like company culture and morale. These risks should all be taken into account in the change management plan.A project plan usually focuses on the individual tasks needed to execute a project, and may not have a large focus on the people or human capital side of an organization.
Another difference is that the practice of change management doesn't have as many formal standards compared to project management. There are numerous organizations and accreditations in the project management world.

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