How to Develop a Change Management Plan, Guide + Templates

Learn how to develop a Change Management Plan with this informative guide. It’s authored by a PMP certified Project Manager, and it includes widely recognized good practices, clear steps, and well-drafted templates. This Guide provides the tools you need to do the job right, every time.

(*Note that this Guide is about managing changes to project plans, project documents, deliverables, and baselines. It is not about managing the people side of change. For information on that valuable work, see Prosci.)

What is a Change Management Plan?

A Change Management Plan is a subsidiary management plan. It is a part of the Project Management Plan. The Change Management Plan sets up the Change Control Board and it identifies members of the Board. It also specifies what constitutes change and it defines the change request processes.

Why is Change Management Important?

Managing and controlling change is essential for project success. Consider, if the number of deliverables increase without managing that change, the project will likely experience schedule and cost overruns because more work must be performed than originally estimated.

What are Effective Change Management Processes?

Effective change management processes include:

  1. establishing the Change Control Board,
  2. defining change,
  3. establishing the change request processes, and
  4. establishing the processes for disposition by the Change Control Board.

How Do You Develop a Change Management Plan?

You implement the following 9 steps to develop a Change Management Plan:

  1. Secure a well-considered Change Management Plan template
  2. Identify roles and responsibilities, as they pertain to change management
  3. Establish the change control board
  4. Define what constitutes change
  5. Establish the change request process
  6. Identify the person responsible for sizing change requests
  7. Establish the processes for disposition by the change control board
  8. Identify assumptions, issues, and risks as they pertain to change management
  9. Obtain Plan approval

Step 1. Secure a Well-Considered Change Management Plan Template.

To develop an effective Change Management Plan, begin by selecting the right tool for job. Secure a well-considered template. Specifically, secure a template that aligns with commonly recognized good practices in project management. Further, secure a template that is designed to work with your Project Management Plan template and your other subsidiary management plan templates. By working with well-considered templates that are designed to fit together, you are better positioned to avoid gaps in planning.

(At the bottom this post, you will find links to a collection of well-considered Project Management templates and a Change Management Plan template that are all designed to work together.)

Templates that are designed to work together may help you avoid gaps in planning.

Step 2. Identify Roles and Define Responsibilities

Your template should provide for identifying the roles and defining the responsibilities of those who will perform change management activities. As you begin planning, remember to involve project team members, other project stakeholders, and the project sponsor. By involving others in the planning process, you may receive additional insight and buy-in for the project.

Involve others in project planning.

Step 3. Establish the Change Control Board

The Change Control Board is responsible for controlling changes to project plans, project documents, deliverables, and baselines. The Board reviews Change Requests, then approves, delays, or rejects the requests.

An effective template will provide for establishing the Change Control Board. It will include space to identify Board member names, provide their contact information, and describe their roles and responsibilities.

An effective template will provide for establishing the Change Control Board.

Step 4. Define What Constitutes Change

Your Change Management Plan template should also define what constitutes change. For example, it should reference cost, schedule, and scope baselines, then clearly specify what deviation from the baselines constitutes change. It should also specify what constitutes change to the approved project plans and project documents.

Step 5. Establish the Change Request Process

After Change is defined, the change request process must be established. Often, this means there will be no changes to baselines, project plans, or project documents unless a Change Request is submitted. 

Identify to whom the Change Request must be submitted and specify any requirements. For example, must the Change Request be submitted on an approved form? Who may submit Change Requests? Must Change Requests be logged? If so, by whom?

Step 6. Identify the Person Responsible for Sizing Change Requests

Change Requests should be sized prior to submission to the Change Control Board. The impact to schedule, budge, risk, and quality should be evaluated so that the Change Control Board is positioned to make informed decisions. Here, you will identify the person(s) responsible for sizing Change Requests.

Change requests should be sized prior to submission to the Change Control Board.

Step 7. Establish the Processes for Disposition by the Change Control Board

Members of the Change Control Bard will evaluate Change Requests and decide whether they become approved, approved with modifications, rejected, or deferred. When you develop your Change Management Plan, prescribe the process for each decision. 

Step 8. Identify Assumptions, Issues, and Risks 

As you plan change management, you may identify assumptions, issues, and risks. Document them as you identify them. Later on, record or transfer them in the appropriate locations. (E.g., risk management plan)

Step 9. Obtain Plan Approval

Usually, the Project Sponsor formally approves the Change Management Plan. Our Change Management Plan template includes a section to obtain the Approver’s signature. 

Which Documents Should be Included in a Change Management Plan?

Once the Change Management Plan is approved, it cannot be changed without submitting to the change request process. Where project documents are included in the Plan, they too become approved. So, include those project documents that will be used while managing change. Specifically, consider including the Change Request Form and the Change Request Log.

What is the Best Change Management Plan Template?

The best Change Management Plan template is one that aligns with good practices in project management so that it supports project success. Also, it should be designed to work with your Project Management Plan and each of its subsidiary management plans.

 “The Practitioner’s Book of Project Management Templates” is an e-book that will guide you in implementing good practices in project management. It contains 86 editable templates that are designed to work together toward development of a comprehensive Project Management Plan. In it, you will find the Change Management Plan template. It also includes the Change Request Form template and the Change Request Log template mentioned above.

Start Planning Now

Ready to begin? Download our e-book and get started. It includes the Change Management Plan template, numerous other subsidiary management plan templates, project document templates, and a comprehensive Project Management Plan template. It has the templates you need do the job right, every time.