Change Management Plan: Essential for Your Business?

change management plan

What is a change management plan?

In order to succeed, businesses must constantly evolve. Companies must constantly reassess and readjust what they’re offering to customers, how they carry out key processes, who’s responsible for what tasks and how they could be improving.

Running a business is a constant game of trial and error, and so companies have got to be nimble and be able to adjust to big changes if they want to survive.

Unfortunately, change isn’t always well received. When a business owner decides to bring about a big shift at his or her company, individual stakeholders don’t always react with enthusiasm — and sometimes, these changes don’t work well for the company as a collective.

That’s why businesses should always draft a Change Management Plan to help guide staff members and stakeholders through those rocky transition periods.

What is a Change Management Plan?

change management plan

Simply put, a Change Management Plan is a working document that spells out activities or roles that will need additional focus during the execute and control stage of a project or noticeable institutional change.

For example, if you’re introducing a new middle manager into your workforce, planning to make staff redundancies, or are preparing to add new steps into a manufacturing process, you are going to cause tremors across your company’s workforce.

By drafting a Change Management Plan, you should be able to measure and mitigate any potential resistance or unintentional drawbacks of implementing said changes.

Key Components of a Change Management Plan

  • Reason for Change: Before implementing any change, it’s crucial to understand and articulate why the change is necessary. This could be driven by factors such as market demands, technological advancements, or internal strategic shifts.
  • Impact Analysis: This involves assessing the potential impacts the proposed change might have on different areas of the organization. It’s essential to foresee any potential challenges or disruptions that might arise as a result of the change.
  • Stakeholder Communication: Ensuring all relevant stakeholders, from employees to suppliers, are informed about the changes. This includes why the change is occurring, how it will be implemented, and the expected outcomes. Effective communication can alleviate concerns and reduce resistance.
  • Training & Support: If the change involves new tools, processes, or behaviors, employees may need training or resources to adapt. This could range from formal training sessions to informational materials or even one-on-one mentoring.
  • Feedback Mechanisms: Establishing channels for employees and other stakeholders to provide feedback on the changes. This can be invaluable for making necessary adjustments in real-time and for identifying unforeseen challenges.

How To Write a Change Management Plan?

change management plan

Change Management Plans come in two varieties. The first type is designed to measure the impact of an institutional change with a view to ease any necessary transitions.

The second type of Change Management Plan is put in place to track progress on particular projects. This type of plan sees change measured against a project baseline — which is generally going to be a detailed outline of a project’s scope, schedule and its budget.

Both types of Change Management Plans have a few basic things in common.

First and foremost, all Change Management Plans must start by demonstrating the reasons for a change — such as addressing performance gaps, emerging technologies or waning consumer activity.

Then, a plan must define the scope of recommended changes. You’ll need to outline how you’re reacting to issues, which job roles it could affect or any potential policy or organizational changes. After that, you must identify a series of KPIs that can be used to measure progress and success.

change management plan

A Change Management Plan must also provide a description of stakeholder support, and will ideally elect a change management team that will be responsible for maintaining constant communication with stakeholders throughout the implementation period of any given change.

This list must include all employees, as well as any partner organizations such as suppliers, contractors or major clients.

change management plan

Assessing Organizational Readiness for Change

Before launching any change initiative, it is essential to thoroughly evaluate the organization’s current systems and processes. This assessment should aim to understand how prepared the company is for change. It involves looking at existing workflows, employee skill sets, technology infrastructure, and other resources.

  • Evaluating Current Systems: Analyzing how current processes and systems might be affected by the proposed changes.
  • Employee Readiness Assessment: Conducting surveys, interviews, or meetings to gauge the staff’s readiness for change. This includes understanding their adaptability, concerns, and potential resistance.

Change Capacity Analysis

This involves a careful examination of the organization’s capacity to handle change. It’s about understanding whether the necessary resources are available and how the change might impact current operations.

  • Resource Allocation Review: Checking if there are sufficient resources, including financial, human, and technological, to support the change.
  • Workload Impact Analysis: Determining how the change will affect existing workloads and whether there is a need for hiring, training, or redistributing tasks among current staff.

Developing a Risk Management Strategy in Change Plans

Identifying Potential Risks

Every change initiative comes with its set of risks. It is crucial to identify these risks early in the process to develop effective mitigation strategies.

  • Risk Identification Process: Identifying potential operational, financial, and HR risks associated with the change.
  • Risk Impact Assessment: Evaluating how these risks might impact various aspects of the organization, including employee morale, customer satisfaction, and financial health.

Risk Mitigation Plans

Developing robust risk mitigation strategies is key to ensuring the smooth implementation of change.

  • Formulating Contingency Plans: Creating specific plans for the most significant identified risks to minimize disruption.
  • Regular Review and Adaptation: Continuously monitoring risks and updating mitigation strategies as the change process evolves and new challenges emerge.

Integrating Change Management with Project Management

Effective change management should be in sync with the broader goals of the organization’s ongoing projects. This alignment ensures that change initiatives complement rather than conflict with other efforts.

  • Synchronizing Objectives: Ensuring that the change management plan’s goals align with the organization’s strategic objectives and ongoing projects.
  • Coordinated Planning and Execution: Facilitating collaboration between the change management team and project managers to ensure a united approach.

Leveraging Project Management Tools

Project management methodologies and tools can be invaluable in structuring and monitoring the change process.

  • Applying Project Management Methodologies: Utilizing Agile, Scrum, or Waterfall methodologies to bring structure and clarity to the change management process.
  • Change Tracking and Reporting: Employing project management software and tools for tracking the progress of change initiatives, documenting milestones, and communicating outcomes to relevant stakeholders.

By extensively understanding organizational readiness, developing a comprehensive risk management strategy, and integrating change management within the broader context of project management, businesses can enhance their ability to adapt and thrive in a constantly evolving business environment.

If you need help writing your first Change Management Plan, there are plenty of templates out there that can help get you started. But at the end of the day, this is a task that all business owners should make a habit of carrying out.

Change is good — but being able to get everybody on the same page and carry out a major transition can make or break even the best company.

Change Management Plan Summary

Need for ChangeBusinesses must adapt and be flexible to remain successful. Change is essential but can often meet resistance.
Change Management Plan (CMP)A strategy that defines activities, roles, and focus areas during significant changes. Helps guide stakeholders through transitions and mitigate potential issues.
Purpose of CMPProject-Based: Measures change against a project's baseline (scope, schedule, budget). Institutional: Assesses the impact of organizational change.
Components of CMPJustification for change, scope of proposed changes, KPIs for progress, stakeholder support, change management team for communication.
StakeholdersEssential to keep everyone informed. Involves all employees and partner organizations such as suppliers, contractors, or major clients.

Change Management Photo via Shutterstock

Nash Riggins Nash Riggins is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and an American journalist based in central Scotland. Nash covers industry studies, emerging trends and general business developments. His writing background includes The Huffington Post, World Finance and GuruFocus. His website is