A 5-Step Organizational Change Checklist (For Any Project)

An organizational change checklist can help you with any change project, large or small.

Naturally, not all projects are created equal.

Some are straightforward, some are complex. 

Some are short, others are long and drawn out.

Some involve cultural changes, some involve digital transformation.

However, regardless of the type of change, the checklist below includes steps that can be applied to virtually any project.

If your project is small, simply cross out the steps that you don’t need.

For more complicated projects, consider including each step – and add additional steps if necessary.

An Easy, 5-Step Organizational Change Checklist

Each of the phases below includes a number of items that can be included in your checklist.

1. Analysis and planning.

The first stage of your change management plan should include analysis and planning. 

During this stage, you will:

  • Identify problems – In many cases, problems manifest on their own. However, it is important to identify and articulate those problems clearly.
  • Pinpoint causes – It is also important to identify the underlying cause of a problem. Otherwise, you will simply be treating the symptoms.
  • Brainstorm solutions – Every solution will have benefits, drawbacks, risks, and rewards. Brainstorm and compare the most reasonable solutions.
  • Assess risks – Risk assessment and mitigation should be a part of every change project. This can help you choose the right solution and course of action.
  • Assess change readiness – How sophisticated is your change management function? How ready are employees? What tools do you need to succeed? 
  • Set goals – Every change plan must have goals that are clear, achievable, and measurable. 
  • Create an action plan – Your action plan can be based on this checklist. It should have specific dates, goals, responsible team members, and so on.

Once your planning is complete, it is time to build your teams.

2. Teams.

Here is a useful way to structure change management teams:

  • Implementation team – The team that will put the plan into action.
  • Managers – Managers of departments and frontline employees.
  • Change team – The change management team that designs and executes the project.
  • Senior managers – Upper-level executives and business leaders.
  • Specialists – Experts and specialists who will assist with the project, such as outside vendors.

It is important to assign these teams early on and be clear about roles.

3. Communication.

A communication strategy is one of the core elements of a change program.

Effective communication is necessary to provide direction, mobilize support, and reduce resistance.

This checklist will help you develop an effective communication strategy:

  • The vision for change – A future vision of success is the end state that you are aiming for … what things will look like when the project is complete.
  • The strategy – Your strategy is the “why” and “how” of your plan. Communicating this is critical for gaining support from everyone involved.
  • The action plan – This is the “what” of the change project. Explain what steps you’ll take to achieve the project’s aims, as well as goals, responsibilities, and roles.
  • The timeline – Clearly define the project start date, deadlines, and the project completion date.

Be sure to keep open lines of communication throughout the project. 

4. Implement.

Here are some of the most common execution steps to include on your roadmap:

  • Perform a test run – One option for larger projects is to perform a pilot project with a test group. An experiment such as this can help you make adjustments prior to the main rollout.
  • Mark the beginning – Clearly demarcate the start of the project. This helps to set a boundary between the previous state and the beginning of “the new way” of doing things.
  • Roll out across the organization – This stage is the main phase of the change plan. As with other stages, it should have clear timelines, goals, and responsibilities should be clearly delegated.
  • Reward short-term wins – Make a point of rewarding successful accomplishments. These early wins can help build and maintain motivation.
  • Collect feedback – At specific intervals, collect and analyze data and feedback. This can include software analytics, employee feedback, and so forth.
  • Adjust as necessary Continually adjust your program. Don’t be afraid to add or remove items from the checklist when new information becomes available.

After your goals are met, you can move on to the final phase of the checklist.

5. Finalize.

Finalize your project with steps such as these:

  • Mark the completion date – Clearly set and communicate the final day of the project. 
  • Document and present new policies and procedures – Now that the project is complete, it is important to clarify the new rules.
  • Reinforce – After the project is complete, it is often important to institute change. Additional employee training, rewards, and communications are effective reinforcement strategies.
  • Evaluate your project – A post-project evaluation will help you learn from your wins and losses. This information can improve subsequent change initiatives.

As mentioned, your checklist can and should be modified as necessary.

If you need to make further adjustments to your project, feel free to add more items to this list.

Also, note that this checklist is just a general outline – for best results, adapt it to your specific needs and situation.

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.