Implementing a compliance project within an organisation is always challenging.

This is the word from Sandi Hager, senior change management consultant at Bizmod, who adds: “The primary reason for this is that the leadership team often fails to realise the significant impact on people in a policy driven project and the importance of change management for the success of any project.”

Hager outlines five key elements for an organisation and a change manager to consider for a successful compliance project.

* Conduct a thorough impact analysis: Start the project with an analysis of the varying sub-cultures across the organisation, across departments and teams. Start with the departments and where stakeholders are likely to be impacted the most. In addition, review what processes might be impacted and then interact with the business units to understand how best to support each unit. Avoid a general approach to all departments, especially for compliance projects. This is a key element in defining the project – identifying what needs to be set up and what will need to be done.

* Focus on real collaboration: There are a lot of people with different skills and knowledge within the organisation. The change manager will need to work very closely with the project managers, business analysts and key employees that constitute the collective company intelligence. The bulk of organisational intelligence is within the people in the business, not documentation and hence collaboration with this valuable stakeholder group is critical.

* Keep business interests at the core: To be able to take ownership of the project you need to understand the intricacies of the business and ultimately know what will work best for the business. The business also needs to take full ownership of the project to ensure engagement and sustainability.

* Handover starts at the beginning: It is critical that the change manager’s role is not just seen as a supportive or advisory role at the end of a project. It is imperative that change managers are involved from the very beginning of the project and that change initiatives begin at the start.

* Put the time in: Employees need time to understand and process the messaging. They need to be able to form their own understanding. It is therefore important to continually reinforce messaging to give people time to connect and engage. Very few people get excited about compliance so a once-off messaging approach will never work. This is necessary from a change perspective and a project team as a whole. Engage and re-engage.

“We need to understand and consider the time that people need to process concepts and processes, and we need to reiterate the same message in different formats,” says Hager. “An organisation is a complex environment that is made up of different kinds of people, on different levels, and from different sub-cultures – and all of these elements affect understanding.” If people don’t understand they won’t engage.