How to Develop a Change Management Project Plan

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Organizational changes can affect all company employees.
Organizational changes can affect all company employees. (Image: handsome managers image by Andrey Kiselev from Fotolia.com)

Change management focuses on the changes that members of an organization face during a business-related transition. For change management to be completed smoothly, tools, processes and plans must be in place to mitigate potential concerns and anticipated problems. A change management project plan is essential. Without a plan to help employees transition to their new roles, employees will feel confused and unprepared, and the overall business potentially could be affected.

Appoint a change management team. This may include members of your organization or outside consultants who are familiar with the process of change management. At minimum, this team should include a person familiar with all areas of your organization, as well as a change management expert. This team must be prepared to explain the intended changes to the organization, mitigate issues that arise during the transition and determine the success of the transition when the change is complete.

Analyze the plan your company has defined to go from the current organizational structure to the planned organizational structure. Decide how many steps are required. Often, a company cannot go directly from one organizational structure to another; the plan must be implemented step by step.

For example, your company wants to transition from an organization that is divided by region to an organization that is divided by department. At this time, each local office manages its own marketing, sales and manufacturing. The company's goal is to divide the company into three complete, integrated departments: marketing, sales and manufacturing. The company may begin by integrating marketing, followed by sales and manufacturing. This gradual transition is less risky, and less overwhelming, than transitioning all three departments at one time.

Create a comprehensive communication plan. Determine how all company employees can be notified of upcoming changes. Without proper communication, employees may not be aware of change and may not properly transition as necessary.

Create a timeline of the key changes that will occur during the change management process. This must be detailed and include large and small details. The timeline should include items such as:

  1. Communicate the intended changes with the organization
  2. Meet with members of the marketing team to explain how their responsibilities will change
  3. Design and install the new office layout for marketing employees
  4. Transition marketing employees to their new job locations (3 day period)
  5. Meet with marketing employees to field any questions
  6. Hold weekly teleconferences to discuss any concerns that arise

List potential concerns and problems that may arise during the change process. This includes employee dissatisfaction, employee confusion and stoppage of everyday work processes. Create a contingency plan for each potential setback.

Compile all change management information into a report to present to your company's senior management team. Prepare for questions or suggested changes from the management team. Be prepared to defend your suggestions, and accept the fact that all of your change management plans may not be accepted by senior management. When changes are required, edit the change management project plan to incorporate all revisions.

Discuss the upcoming changes with each local management team within the organization after senior management approval is acquired, but before changes are officially implemented. Present each manager with a report of changes that will affect his department so he can explain the changes to his team. Ask each manager to report back any potential concerns that may have been overlooked so they can be addressed, and the change management plan can be adjusted or changed as necessary.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be prepared to make edits to your change management plan. Especially when making a major organizational change, problems are likely to occur. Ensure that you have a contingency plan for all high risk changes.
  • Do not rush a change. While the change may highly benefit the organization, making a change too quickly may intimidate and confuse employees and other stakeholders.

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