This article, the fourth in a series providing a guide to delivering a compliance program, describes execution of the plan.

Compliance is the launchpad that can propel IT into a higher orbit of enterprise contribution, leadership and visibility. Compliance deadlines are not optional, neither is profitability. Let us execute the plan with an eye on the prize, delivering compliance with competitive advantage.

Senior executives confirm that IT expertise is an essential requirement for functional (enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, customer relationship management, etc.) excellence. Conversations with CIOs and IT managers validate that deeper IT integration with intense focus on enterprise competitive advantage can and does earn IT a prominent role to influence strategic choices.

For 90 days, you have led the initiative to build an integrated IT compliance plan which integrates enterprise compliance strategy and an operations plan to deliver ongoing competitive advantage. Integration is an essential anchor point. Without it, not just compliance but also business results will falter. Executing for strategic competitive advantage is the objective of this 30-day action plan.

Mission and Scope

Objective: The mission and scope are clear. IT's objective must be to execute a compliance plan to support the enterprise strategy, which embodies compliance requirements.

Vision: Should an enterprise attack compliance like allied forces braved the Normandy beaches that won the war, train like Lance Armstrong who overcame cancer to win six consecutive Tour de France races or make the total commitment like Michael Jordan became a pro basketball sensation after failing to make his high school varsity team?

Unlike the crowned athlete whose financial needs are met, the enterprise must sustain its competitive edge for profitability every day. Like the human body, which replaces 50 million dying cells every second, the enterprise must grow profits to ward off competitive chisels striking at its most profitable global businesses.

Can IT set such inspiring goals and achieve them? Is anything less an option? The final outcome is not just compliance, but competitive advantage. The opportunity is tremendous for the executives to fix breakage, win competitive advantage and set a new course; yet many CIOs change jobs every 18 months.

Status After 90 Days: The alternatives that best provide competitive advantage have been prioritized and endorsed by senior managers.

Next Steps:

  • Ensure continued support from the executive team.
  • Reinforce the need for the enterprise strategy as the anchor for compliance deliverables.
  • Provide quarterly status to senior team
  • Provide monthly updates to functional executives (share successes -- % completed tasks, seek support for escalations promptly, reward key contributors)
  • Use quality tools and project management processes of your enterprise.

Figure 1: Compliance Program

Cross-Functional Teamwork

Objective: Collaborate to deliver compliance requirements and enterprise competitive advantage.

Vision: A marvelous demonstration of teamwork is the systems of the human body. The lungs take in oxygen and clean the blood, and then the heart pumps the blood to the cells to give them nutrients. The five senses of the body feed data to the brain, which generates cognitive or motor responses. The cardiovascular system, the circulatory system, the nervous system and the musculoskeletal systems work as one to not just preserve life, but also to shine as stars.

Can IT serve as the integrated nervous system of the body? Can IT bring stimuli to the board (the brain) and deliver responses back to the functional areas (the organs): accounting, finance, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, sales and customer care? Is there a choice?

Status After 90 Days: The cross-functional team has determined:

  • Current and three-year compliance requirements.
  • Gaps and alternatives for compliance and opportunities for competitive advantage.

Next Steps: Grow cross-functional collaboration beyond compliance.

  • As compliance actions are deployed, refocus into competitive initiatives.
  • Continue trust-building activities: clear communications, recognition, appropriately managed escalations.
  • Follow quality steps and project management discipline to measure milestones/progress.

Management and Funding Sponsorship

Objectives: Secure management and funding support for crystal-clear deliverables, expectations and laser-sharp implementation schedules and cost.

  1. Build the compliance and competitive-edge plan and get it classified as company confidential.
  2. Limit circulation by authorized access.

Vision: Management is like both the brain and the heart of an athlete. It determines what to do and then regulates resources to match the energy. Like the athlete who knows when to pick up the pace and when to preserve energy, management should allocate resources for compliance and continuous competitive advantage. It is naive to believe this can happen smoothly in an enterprise. However, compliance regulations have placed the senior executives on notice. Non-compliance means jail time and stiff fines.

Status After 90 Days: The executives have debated alternatives and picked the path to solve compliance issues.

  • The resources and skills are budgeted and committed.
  • Escalation and recognition processes are in place.
  • Consequences of choices, strategic and tactical, are fully comprehended.
  • Current and three-year compliance requirements are articulated and understood.

Next Steps: Maintain a flexible posture.

  • Adjust to new funding boundaries, present options for management.
  • Always communicate to maintain clear expectations. Don't be afraid to over-communicate.
  • Provide quarterly updates: As compliance actions are deployed, refocus into competitive initiatives.
  • Share the good news and challenges.
  • Recognize team contributions.
  • Continue trust-building activities.
  • Communicate in executive language: quality measurement terms, project management process, preplanned agenda.

Validation and Process Management

Objective: Test process and outputs multiple times with multiple experts to verify that requirements are met 100 percent each time.

Vision: Drug companies run clinical trials to predict reaction of the medicines. Athletes practice their skills thousands of times so the results of competition are predictable. IT must validate that results are fully compliant.

Status After 90 Days: Requirements are fully comprehended:

  • Specific processes and validation of data.
  • Specific elements of reporting. Subject-matter experts and cross-functional teams are collaborating in developing and deploying the plan for compliance and leverage for competitive edge.

Next Steps: Ensure that all validation steps for compliance are flow-charted and documented.Get signatures of responsible departments and subject-matter experts to verify that:

  • The plan is error free.
  • The data they are supplying is error free.
  • The plan is effective to deliver 100 percent compliance.

Figure 2: Enterprise and IT's Compliance Vision

Retool IT Competencies for Compliance


  1. Create competencies on IT staff that can articulate three years of compliance initiatives in support of the enterprise strategic plan, which includes compliance requirements.
  2. Enable IT team architects and project leaders to understand functional deliverables and processes for compliance and competitive advantage.
  3. Secure support of technology partners and vendors to test deliverables and continuous improvement.

Vision: Run IT with leadership competencies beyond technical excellence. Reach for not just excellence of a mathematical mind, fuel your quest with the power of intense focus and dedication to stretch limits of understanding. Build with knowledge, speed, flexibility and communications to lead.

Status After 90 Days: Requirements are fully comprehended:

  • IT compliance project manager/executive has listed current and three-year compliance requirements and status of initiatives.
  • Systems architects have identified hardware/software bottlenecks and alternatives to enable compliance.
  • Skills and resources as well as compatibility options have been assessed.
  • Partners and vendors are engaged and aware of compliance initiatives in progress.
  • Estimates of cost and performance have been provided (but not validated).
  • Subject-matter experts are integrated into the validation plan.

Next Steps:

  1. Get the cross-functional team leaders to initial the compliance plan and IT deliverables.
    • List dependencies, contingencies and escalation paths, as well as recognition.
    • Define specific deliverables for: experts and users in development, refining, testing and implementation phases.
    • Ensure that all validation steps for compliance are flow-charted and documented.
  2. Support IT project managers and team leaders to attend functional training.
  3. Include deliverables and leadership skills as part of performance feedback criteria.
  4. IT staff is participating in functional team (CRM, ERP, SCM, BPM) plans to integrate compliance requirements.

In closing this series on compliance, use the chart in Figure 1 as your the vision. Embrace the enterprise strategic plan. Integrate IT staff deeper into business functional areas. Build trust and strengthen teamwork by recognition. Excel in core technology skills. Create a confidential IT and compliance plan and guard distribution. Let compliance launch IT into a higher orbit for contribution, leadership and rewards.
All four articles in this series may be accessed at and at

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