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Creating the Change Management Communications Plan

It has been a while since my last blog. A combination of heavy travel and recovering from surgery on a torn Achilles tendon has caused me to re-adjust my schedule. It’s good to be back. In this week’s entry we will discuss developing the change management (CM) communications plan.

As discussed in previous blogs, communication is a critical success factor for the success of any project. It is imperative that the communication not be only be frequent, but targeted at the appropriate constituency. When developing a CM Communications Plan, a plain vanilla, one size fits all approach is doomed to failure. It simply will not work. The plan must address the unique needs of your target audience. In addition to varying the message across different constituencies, the tactical channel utilized should differ. For example, some people prefer to digest their content in a digital or electronic format, while others prefer in-person communications. The Change Management Champions (CMC) will need to determine the stakeholder’s preferred channel and then develop the content, as the content could vary based on the channel selected.

The Communication Plan should provide the public sector organization a plan of action to inform and empower key stakeholders to garner their support for the initiative. The plan should be utilized during all phases of the project, including the post-project phase. Oftentimes, municipalities stop implementing the plan after the project is launched because they are too busy congratulating each other. However, it is essential to continue the deployment of plan on a post-launch basis. It is critical to share the successes and keep stakeholders informed of updates, potential roadblocks, etc. When developing the plan, the key components should include:

  1. Date – Specific time period(s) when the communication tactic will be deployed
  2. Topic – Identifies the name/title of the strategy, task, or activity.
  3. Message – Details the messages that should be expressed via the strategy or activity
  4. Audience – Categorizes the targeted segments/audiences that the communication activity intends to reach
  5. Channel/Medium – Indicates the means by which the communication activity is being delivered (in-person meeting, website, town hall meeting, etc.) This topic will be addressed in greater detail in future blogs.
  6. Frequency/Timing – Specifies how often the communication activity should occur
  7. Owner – Lists the project stakeholder or CMC who has the responsibility for creating and deploying the communication task/activity.
  8. Status – Specifies the phase at which the communication activity/task is currently at

I would suggest creating a template in Excel or Word to track your Communications Plan. Nothing fancy, but it is important to continually ensure that you are reaching the key stakeholders on a consistent basis and connecting with your team members who are helping to drive the plan’s implementation.

Tune in for our next blog, where we will continue our discussion on the communications plan and discuss different tactics/channels to utilize during the communications process.

Check out my previous 11 Change Management Blogs at:

Change Happens—How Do You Manage It?


The Impact of Ignoring Change


Getting it Right: Critical Success Factors for Change Management Initiatives, Part 1


Getting it Right: Critical Success Factors for Change Management Initiatives, Part 2


Creating the Secret Sauce – Selecting Change Management Champions


Why Do We Resist? Categorizing the Different Types of Resistance


“People don’t Resist Change. They Resist Being Changed!”


“Whosoever Desires Constant Success must Change his Conduct with the Times.”


“The Greatest Danger in Times of Turbulence is not the Turbulence; it is to Act with Yesterday’s Logic.”


Converting the Dissenter: Part Two


Converting the Dissenter: Part Three


Spencer Stern specializes in assessing the business and process impact of new technology-based solutions, ranging from enterprise-wide software systems to wireless communications networks. In 2008 he launched Stern Consulting where he continues to focus on assessing the financial impact of large-scale municipal strategic implementations. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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Preston G. Baker

Your insight on the importance of a communications plan tailored to meet the needs of your audience and the need to continue the process echos what I have been discussing with our LSS team. An on-line survey is fine but the addition of face to face discussions especially with our biggest customers will help us to fully understand their needs and the best ways to service our customers.

Spencer Stern

Hi Preston,

Great feedback. Thanks. In-person communications is typically more effective than digital. I always recommend a mix, with the percentages determined by the individual’s unique needs. However, I would suggest not to be 100% reliant on either type. For example, digital/electronic communications is a useful tool to verify/confirm information shared via in-person meetings.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Hey Spencer – Great to have you back! Do you happen to have a template you could share?

P.S. Up to 11 blogs now, eh? What a terrific series! 🙂

Melissa McKinley

Hi Spencer, I didn’t see it mentioned in any of your posts (but could have missed it) but your posts sound very much like the PROSCI methodology. We are using their approach in my organization but find a lack of fit sometimes between the methodology and the public sector environment. Just wondering if there are any other major methodologies or approaches you have incorporated into your practice as well to help deal with some of these gaps? We are looking at AI and some models out of the healthcare industry to try and supplement.

Spencer Stern

Hi Melissa,

Thanks for your comment. A power outage at our house has delayed my repsone. I would be happy to chat with you about your issues. Please email me at [email protected] so we can set up a time to chat.