Change Management Plan, Process and Templates : Excel Downloads


Change Management Plan

Most people don’t like changes, regardless if it’s in their personal or professional life. The goal of the CM (Change Management) is to manage the changes to the organization, team or individuals in respects to their business processes, SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) or IT systems.

Change Management Plan Excel Template
Change Management Plan Excel Template

Steps involved in creating a change management plan

When putting together a CM plan, the team must employ a structured approach which goal is to ensure that all the changes are successfully implemented. In order for this goal to be met, the following steps need to be followed –

  • Change Assessment: This step is twofold, and includes characterizing the current situation, and then assessing the required change in order to align the recipient with the new situation. This is basically the stage of putting together the plan for the CM.
  • Change Impacts: This step is done more or less in parallel with the previous step (Change Assessment), and its goal is to estimate how the organization will benefit from the change, who will be affected and how. This step should present the business justification of the change to the company’s management.

  • Stakeholder Engagement: Any change requires the full support and commitment of one or many key stakeholders of the organization. This steps’ goal is to get their full support for the change, and make sure that they are kept in the loop regarding its progress.
  • Communication Plan: Keeping all those affected by the changes up to date regarding the change and its impact is crucial to its success. This step requires the CM team to plan how the changes will be communicated throughout the team / organization.
  • Change Readiness: In this step the CM team assess whether the team / organization are ready to make the necessary changes. This is basically a go / no-go gate.
  • Role Mapping: In this step the CM team map out the users of the new system / process / procedure, and what they will be expected to do in their new roles. If any of the users require permissions to the new system, this step outlines them.
  • Writing Documents & SOP’s: This step documents all of the changes that were made to the organization, and also Training / KT (Knowledge Transfer): This step may be under the responsibility of a separate training team (depends on the organization). In this step the CM team train the new users on how to operate the new system, or use the new process.

Change Management Process

When a project manager drafts a project plan he or she hopes that the project will run as per the plan. In reality, projects seldom run to plans. Change is the only constant. As a project manager you need to make sure that the decision to proceed with the change request is not made in an unilateral fashion.

Change Management Process
Change Management Process
When you put the project plan together you would have assumed somethings. Those assumptions may not always be correct. You will have some or the other issues like resourcing, technical hurdles, budget issues and one of them which is very common is scope creeps.

As a project manager you do not have control over lot of situations but you can definitely control scope creeps. There are two challenges when it comes to managing scope creeps - : identifying scope creeps or changes and handling the change request(change request and change log).

Identifying the scope creep or change request

  • This is the most difficult task. Most of the times the project team members will be so focused on their individual tasks that they fail to identify scope changes. 
  • As a project manager it is your responsibility to identify scope changes. 
  • To be able to identify scope changes the project manager should be aware of the details of the project deliverable.
  • It also important the project manager participates in scrum meetings, project meetings, technical workshops etc as the scope changes can come from different sources. 
  • The changes could come as part of internal team discussions, senior management feedback and from the system users.
  • Internal changes or changes which arise from team discussions could come as a result of design reviews, code reviews or team demos. 
  • Senior management can also provide feedback to make sure the deliverable is inline with the company's strategic goals. 
  • The system users may ask for changes after seeing a demo or prototype. 
  • Most of the times the requester of the change is unaware of the impact of the change on the project schedule and this is were a change management process is useful.
  • The change could be required or optional. All the stakeholders of the project should be aware of any changes to the project. 
  • In the next step we will see how a project manger can handle a change request.
Sample Change request Template
Sample Change request Template

Handling the change request

There are two parts to handling change requests - first, document and then socialize the change request with the team and stakeholders.

  • When documenting the change request the document type can be an XLSX or Word or any other format. The key to any change request is the different details that you capture. 
  • It is important that a project manager documents the change well and then publishes(or socialize) the document. But before publishing it is important that the requester reviews the change. 
  • As mentioned before people often ignore the impact of change requested and asking the requester to review the change request is a good way of confirming the change is actually required. 
  • Please see the images on the top for template and sample based on Microsoft Power Point. You can use any document format you wish - XSLX, Word etc. 
  • I have also shown a word based template at the beginning. The change request should be reviewed by the project manager, project team and the requester before it is published for approval. 

Change Request Template
Change Request Template

Generally, the change requests are approved by senior executives or project sponsors or investors but never the project manager. It may happen the change request may be shot down by the project team which will mean that the project manager need not go the project stakeholders for approval.

Re-baseline the project plan

  • One of the things that a project manager has to do when a change occurs is to re-baseline the project plan. 
  • I recommend that when presenting the change request to the project stakeholders for approvals (and you are reasonably confident that the change will be approved) a project manager should also present the re-baselined project plan for approval.
  • The advantage of doing this will be that the project manager will get a real assessment of the impact of the change as he or she are forced to re-baseline the project plan.

Maintaining the change log

  • A change is the list of changes that are logged for the project. 
  • The change log should contain all the changes logged approved or not.  Having a change log is key as being the project manager you should always know what change requests have affected the project. It can be a simple spreadsheet like below.
  • It comes in handy when at the end of the project everyone wants to know how and why certain project decisions were made.

Sample Change Log
Sample Project Change Log
Is also a good idea to mention the change requests details(open if any, closed, approved) in the summary section of the your project status reports so that everyone knows what are the change requests affecting the project.

Change Management Plan Best Practices 

  • Any change, even the smallest one, has an effect on the employees and should be carried out with sensitivity. A small token is often a good idea to minimize the stress associated with changes. This can be a new piece of equipment (chair, desk, etc.), a plant or thumb drive.
  • A change should be treated as any other project, and should have a high level timeline, a detailed work plan and risk matrix.
  • If the company has a union, they should be considered a key stakeholder in the change management.
  • Most people associate changes with firing of employees. If none are planned, this should be made very clearly at the start of the project.
  • And always remember that you will face resistance when you are following the change management process because people want to get things done without going through the documentation or without making it public. 
  • As a project manager it is your responsibility to make sure that any decision regarding the changes is taken by appropriate people in the most transparent fashion.