How to Make a Change Management Communication Plan


Change is inevitable, but successful change requires management, communication and planning. Change management communication is a key process to ensure that change is implemented properly by making sure everyone understands that change.

The change management communication plan facilitates change management communication. Learn how to write a change management communication plan and get a free template to ensure it’s thorough to successfully deliver change.

What Is Change Management Communication?

Change management communication is a process used to get buy-in from stakeholders and have them support organizational change. It’s part of the larger change management strategy, which seeks the timely delivery of relevant and consistent information. The goal is moving the organization and those in it from the current state to the future desired state, which can be based on technology, business practices or leadership.

When properly employed, change management communication helps to reduce resistance to change, builds a network of support and provides the information that people in the organization need to make changes effectively. This is done through clear and concise messaging, which includes key information and relevant details and aligns with project milestones. There should also be opportunities for feedback from stakeholders.

Change management communication builds awareness and gathers support for organizational change. It isn’t solely directed at stakeholders, but employees of the organization must understand the change and be on board with it. Of course, that’s only the beginning. Once awareness and support have been established, then the change management communication plan has to be developed.

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Communications Plan Template

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What Is a Change Management Communication Plan?

The change management communication plan is a document that outlines how the strategy for an organizational change will be implemented. It communicates the necessary changes to the organization’s employees, managers and stakeholders, but also includes the details as to the goals of the change, how it will impact roles in the organization and when it will take place. The change management communication plan helps educate, guide and support stakeholders during the change.

At this point, project management software needs to be employed to manage the process and implement the plan. ProjectManager is award-winning project and portfolio management software that has robust Gantt charts that can make timelines for change implementation plans. Our Gantt charts do more than organize tasks, make assignments and add milestones. Managers can link all four types of task dependencies to avoid costly delays, filter for the critical path to identify essential tasks and set a baseline to track planned effort against actual effort in real time. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart
ProjectManager has Gantt charts to implement change communication plans. Learn more

How to Make a Change Management Communication Plan

Again, whether the change is technology, a business practice, leadership or even a combination of those things, a change management communication plan will help that transition occur smoothly. A change management plan is a multi-phase process that professional services and professional change managers use. Following these steps will align the change management communication plan with business goals and inform stakeholders and everyone involved about their roles, responsibilities and what’s expected of them.

Set Communication Objectives & Guidelines

The first part of any plan is understanding its objectives and setting guidelines by which the plan must follow to be successfully implemented. This is true with a change management communication plan as well. What is the objective of the plan? That is, define what the communication should accomplish.

Guidelines can include key messages, such as the communication being clear, concise and easy to understand. The tone should be friendly, explain what’s happening, what it means and the actions everyone needs to take. There should also be a point person assigned for any questions or feedback.

Identify Stakeholders & Their Communication Requirements

Next, the stakeholders need to be identified. Stakeholders can be internal, in the organization, or external, outside the organization. Internal stakeholders can include members of the project team, project managers, members of other departments and senior leaders in the organization. External stakeholders can be clients, customers, suppliers and partners.

Each stakeholder has a different communication requirement. Some need daily communication, others less so and some perhaps none at all. These communication requirements in terms of frequency must be defined to better manage stakeholders over the life cycle of the change. The stakeholders must stay updated, but again, this isn’t the same for all of them.

Establish Communication Delivery Channels

Communication requirements are more than frequency, though that’s important. Other things to consider are the communication channels that each stakeholder prefers. For example, project managers will likely meet in person with their teams. But if those teams are distributed, communications will likely take place over Slack, Teams or another business messaging system. Some stakeholders might prefer email, text or other channels. Find out which one is best for each.

Define a Communication Schedule

Finally, the communication schedule must be set. This, too, will depend on the stakeholders and their relationship with the change management project. Again, some stakeholders must be communicated with daily, others weekly or monthly. It depends on their influence and impact on the project.

Change Management Communication Plan Template

That’s a lot of information to collect and a change management communication plan can be even more thorough. It can include communication events, strengths and weaknesses and even threats to the project. A lessons learned section is also helpful for a post-mortem after the change management plan has been completed and the team looks back at what worked and what didn’t work to apply those lessons to the next project.

ProjectManager's communication plan

To get a head start on the change management communication plan, download this free change management communication plan template for Word. This free template can capture communication objectives, the plan to achieve those objectives, the timeframe in which it will take place and metrics that can measure the project’s success. Use this free change management communication plan template, which is fully customizable, to begin the process of controlling change and delivering it successfully within an organization.

More Free Change Management Templates

A change management communication plan is and important yet small part of the larger change management process. The free change management communication plan template is only a small part of the over 100 free project management templates for Excel and Word that can be downloaded from our site. They cover every aspect of managing a project and address multiple industries. Below are a few of the free templates related to change management.

Change Readiness Assessment Template

A change readiness assessment is a process by which organizations prepare for a specific change in their future. It allows organizations to understand their ability to initiate, follow through and maintain lasting change. This free change readiness assessment template for Word list categories, such as sponsorship, stakeholder management, readiness and training, etc., and allows users to rate them from strongly disagree to strongly agree to assess an organization’s readiness to change.

Change Impact Assessment Template

A change impact assessment is another process, but this one is used to understand how the change will impact the people, processes and projects within the organization. By doing this, managers can help to mitigate the negative impacts of the change. It leads to better decision-making. The free change impact assessment template for Excel does this by defining the current state and the desired future state and then asking a series of weighted questions to gauge the change’s impact on the organization.

Change Log Template

A change log is a document that lets users capture change as it happens and track it throughout the project or the life cycle of the change. Using this free change log template for Excel gives one greater visibility into this process. Managers have a place to identify change but also assign team members to respond to it and a timeline by which the change must be completed.

How to Manage Change Implementation With ProjectManager

Templates can help identify and track change or its impact on an organization or project. However, they’re less effective than using project management software. That’s because templates are static documents that don’t track change in real time. They must be manually updated and don’t help facilitate the collaborative effort required to successfully implement change. Not to mention, they’re poor planning tools.

ProjectManager is award-winning project and portfolio management software that can create timelines to create change management communication plans and change implementation plans. It can also give teams the tools they need to execute change and managers visibility into that process to ensure it meets deadlines and budgets.

Manage Tasks With Multiple Work Management Tools

Managers might plan on Gantt charts, but they’re not the tools that most teams use to execute the tasks assigned to them. That’s why multiple project views allow plans to be shared and updated at the same time to keep everyone working on the same page. Team members can choose between the visual workflow of kanban boards or robust task lists to manage their work. Stakeholders can use the calendar view for a monthly project overview to help them stay updated.

ProjectManager's list view
Track Progress and Costs in Real Time

Managers need to monitor the change to control it and ensure that it follows the schedule and there aren’t any cost overruns. They can get a high-level project overview by toggling to the real-time project or portfolio dashboards. They’re constantly updated with live data and display key performance indicators (KPIs) on easy-to-read graphs and charts that show time, cost, workload and more. For more detail, use customizable reports for a status or portfolio report, variance, workload or timesheet report. Filter reports to show only the data one is concerned with and easily share them with stakeholders to keep them updated.

ProjectManager's dashboard that tracks six key project metrics
Related Change Management Content

Change management is a large subject. Our site is an online hub for all things project management. There are weekly blogs, tutorial videos, guides, eBooks, and, of course, free templates. For those who wish to learn more about change management, below are a handful of links that cover the subject, change control boards, change requests and more.

ProjectManager is online project and portfolio management software that connects teams whether they’re in the office, out in the field or anywhere else. Share files, comment at the task level and stay updated with email and in-app notifications. Join teams at Avis, Nestle and Siemens who use our software to deliver successful projects. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.