What to Include in a Change Management Policy Template

A change management policy template can serve as the basis for one’s own change management policy.

That policy will dictate best practices and procedures that should be implemented during any organizational change program. 

Standardizing best practices in this way can improve an organization’s change management maturity level and, as a consequence:

  • Project success rates
  • Project outcomes
  • Employee productivity, performance, and engagement
  • The profitability of projects

In short, change management policies can raise competency and performance across the organization.

Below, we’ll look at some of the key elements to include in a change management policy.

What to Include in a Change Management Policy Template

Here are a few of the most critical categories to add to a change management policy. 

(Note that this change management policy refers to organizational change management, not to be confused with IT services change management.)

Policy Scope and Purpose

The very first section of a policy or set of guidelines should define its scope. This tells the reader what the policy is for, what it is not for, and how it should be applied.

In the case of a change management policy, it should include:

  • The goal of the policy
  • Why the policy exists
  • When and how the policy is to be used

This section should be short and to the point. It should be an “executive summary” of sorts, which tells the reader whether or not this document is relevant and how it should be applied.

Overview

A more detailed overview can introduce key concepts and definitions.

Here are a few points to consider covering:

This section, in short, introduces the contents of the policy, whereas the first section acts as a preface that describes its aim. 

Change Management Guidelines

The next section is the longest and will contain the actual best practices to follow.

It should include:

  • Best practices
  • Guidelines
  • Expectations and requirements

If change managers within the organization already have a standardized change management process that they follow, then that should be outlined here. 

If not, then change models can serve as a good framework to follow. 

Prosci’s change management framework, the ADKAR model, is one example. 

This framework consists of five stages:

  • Raise awareness of the need for change
  • Cultivate a desire for change
  • Provide employees with the knowledge they need to enact change
  • Demonstrate the ability to implement change
  • Reinforce change so that it sticks

Naturally, there are many other frameworks and models that can be useful, such as ACMP’s change model and John Kotter’s 8-step model.

Ultimately, deciding which model to use will be up to the change manager and business leadership. 

Forms and Templates

Every change management initiative is unique, but they all follow the same general steps. In consequence, the same set of forms and templates can be used in each one.

Here are a few examples of forms that can be useful:

It is worth adding instructions that these forms can and should be customized to suit the project at hand – and if a project requires a form that is not included, that form should be utilized if necessary.

Documentation and Resources

This section of the policy can point readers to more in-depth resources that can offer insight, knowledge, and further information about change management.

The following can be helpful for those utilizing the policy:

  • Deeper descriptions of the change model outlined in the main policy
  • Information about additional change models, frameworks, and theories
  • Links to other change management resources, questionnaires, articles, guides, and so forth
  • Case studies of prior in-house projects

This type of information, while useful, may not be necessary for every change practitioner, so they can included as an appendix, rather than as part of the main policy.

Tips on Policy Creation

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when developing a policy:

  • Adhere to the organizations “policy on policies” if necessary. Since many organizations have a framework for designing policies, a change management policy should naturally adhere to those guidelines.
  • Date the policy and maintain it regularly. Policies should be updated regularly, and it is important to date each version and each section or resource. That information can ensure readers know how recently the policy was addressed, and it can ensure that they have a paper trail if need be.
  • Clarify who is responsible for maintaining the document. If the maintenance of the policy remains unassigned, then it will likely go unmaintained.
  • Collaborate with senior leaders and stakeholders when creating the policy. Policies should be reviewed by all major stakeholders to ensure that there is nothing left out and that they meet the organization’s governance requirements.

Policies should be developed with care and oversight from key stakeholders, and, most importantly, they should be designed so that they raise competence and help managers execute change programs effectively.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.