This article, the third in a series providing a guide to delivering a compliance program, describes presentation of the plan to your senior staff.

Are you ready to scale the summit - illuminate required compliance fixes and potential for gains in enterprise competitive advantage? Ready your gear to lead your troop up the steepest three-part climb of the terrain: 1) selecting alternatives to fix compliance, 2) prioritizing what yields maximum competitive advantage, and 3) determining the fixes to implement first.

In the executive suite, you will be greeted with mixed reception. Ideally, you have newfound support from managers expecting new tools, functionality and efficiency. Yet, skepticism may reign high about the team's assumptions on budgets, functionality, feasibility, schedule or optimism. In fact, you may even face some opposition for priorities dictated by compliance dates that put demands on specific teams or delay projects in progress. You have deployed a systematic plan. You are in the lead. Execute. It is your time to shine.

At the IT team level, your project managers and solutions architects have spearheaded advancement. The cross-functional team has been functioning for 45 days. You have provided a cover of executive sponsorship and motivation by recognition. The troops are pumped up; they share a common vision for enterprise progress. Charge ahead.

This installment of my series covers the presentation to your senior staff. Prepare, preview and execute. Implement guidelines (of the 2nd 30-day action plan, September issue of DM Review, p. 14-18) to ensure you build trust, strengthen teamwork and recognize contribution. The seven slides presented in the figures of this article and an hour-long session will earn your place at the top.

Cast a Solid Foundation as Your Anchor

Be brief and concise, and provide concrete and specific examples. How will the compliance initiative sharpen focus on enterprise competitiveness? How well is the cross-functional team collaborating in defining actionable objectives and implementation plans? How well integrated is this initiative with your company's equivalents of lean Six Sigma and project management processes? How realistically is your work founded in facts, analysis, assessment, prioritization, evaluation and validation? Let progress demonstrate that you rightfully deserve the charge to lead this task.

Strike a New Bold Vision for Your Enterprise

Consider Figure 1 a blueprint. Establish that the compliance initiative can change the enterprise effectiveness and competitiveness paradigm. Build your message to articulate the before and after impact on your business-critical success factors. What is the value of delivering the right information in real time for rapid response? Quantify the following in tangible terms: customers saved, waste reduced, incremental earnings. Which current bottlenecks will be streamlined or eliminated?

Figure 1: A Bold New Vision for Enterprise Effectiveness

Having delivered a hard-hitting punch, you have established a new vision. Now move rapidly into progress tests and measurements.

1. Progress Test: Shared Mission

Provide solid evidence that the cross-functional compliance team is executing the shared vision: project managers, firm deliverables, proof of deliverables completed and percentage of action items delivered on time. Show that executives are engaged and monitoring progress. List the deliverables that are proving to be a challenge to complete. Highlight positive teamwork accomplishments. Describe where the gaps still exist and all that is being done to bridge them. Be candid, comprehensive and credible. Ask for executive assistance where you need it.

Figure 2 provides the basis upon which to build your message.

Figure 2: Collaborative Deliverables

2. Progress Test: Sponsorship

Show how each function has the potential to gain from the compliance initiative. Describe tangible progress and potential competitive gains for critical subsystems (CRM, ERP, SCM) as you deploy compliance changes. Specifically, link the mission of each functional area and show how the managers are helping drive improvements through the cross-functional team. Where sponsorship is weak, enlist help prior to the session, in one-on-one meetings.

Figure 3 provides a framework to build your message.

Figure 3: Sponsorship for Compliance

3. Progress Test: Airtight Compliance Validation Process

Neither teamwork nor sponsorship is of any value if you don't get the compliance validation process right (see Figure 4). However, without teamwork and sponsorship, IT cannot deliver compliance. Show that there is a sponsor for each compliance functional area and that the sponsor has generated a list of compliance deliverables that have been validated with qualified resources and double-checked.

Figure 4: Compliance Requirements

4. Progress Test: In-Depth Data and Information Life Cycle Analysis

This is the most in-depth analysis of compliance-related data inputs, transformation and analysis. This analysis should include how data transforms into information, how it flows through the enterprise infrastructure, where the bottlenecks are and which modifications need to be made.

It is time now to look at data quality, meta data and the system of record - the DNA of information. How must the infrastructure and data transform to meet compliance? Is it necessary to add more analysis, change validation processes, implement a security process or retain specified records for allocated time periods? (See Figure 5.)

Figure 5: In-Depth Analysis of Data Transformation

Progress Summary

90-Day Achievements ­ - Your Right to Shine

  1. Catalog of detailed enterprise compliance requirements for three years.
  2. List of compliance fixes that can also sharpen focus on competitive advantage.
  3. Cross-functional team in place to help streamline compliance initiatives.
  4. Enterprise alternatives (IT/process) for compliance and enterprise advantage.
  5. An IT team fully engaged with business effectiveness measures.
  6. A staged implementation plan that meets compliance requirements and delivers competitiveness.
  7. Sponsorship of senior management team to execute the compliance plan.

This is vital enterprise information, guard it appropriately. Your IT staff has snapshots of components. Even vendors have some valuable insights, but not the full picture. The full picture of the IT infrastructure and strategy must be guarded as the crown jewels of the enterprise.

5. Progress Test: Competitive Advantage Enabled by Compliance

At the heart of this series of articles on building a compliance program is the drive to deliver enterprise competitive advantage while building compliance. By assessment of the compliance deliverables, you can map actions to fix (see Figure 6). However, the real value is going past just the fix and reaching for increased efficiency. Leverage the compliance effort into faster customer response time, detailed analysis of customer buying patterns to offer promotions and real-time messaging to distribution centers to ship the updated items to replenish store inventory. Let the cross-functional team identify areas for competitive advantage. In fact, many of these are already on the requirements list for IT to fulfill. Take them on now.

Figure 6: Fly Past Compliance

6. Progress Test: Tough Choices

It is time for tough choices, both financially and in prioritizing implementation. Should you select the best-of-breed tool or the one most compatible with current systems? In-depth functionality for a department or faster implementation for the company? Should you choose multiple (separate vendor) tools or a single platform that integrates multiple functions? If time to deliver full automation for compliance exceeds deadlines, what percentage of work will be done manually? Is this feasible and acceptable? What level of testing/training/certification is required prior to rolling out the new system? What is the overall impact on cost, schedule, quality of compliance and on the enterprise key performance indicators?

Prepare for an excellence-in-communications demonstration at the executive level and across the enterprise. If it were just compliance you were seeking, the task would be simpler. However, reaching for competitive advantage requires leadership. The test here will be your project manager's/executive's ability to percolate consensus on improvement priorities. Apply criteria and tools (see Figure 7) your executives value and use. Showcase the disciplined approach your team uses routinely. Ensure that your corporate quality team is integrated in this critical initiative and summon your best meeting facilitators and project managers to clarify changes mandated for compliance. Cross-functional teams need to cascade implications to departments impacted in major ways.

Figure 7: Top-Level Tools Evaluation Criteria

7. Progress Test: A Compliance Data Mart?

When all is said and done, compliance deadlines are real, and meeting requirements is not optional. Therefore, even though you have support to build competitive advantage, the task to fix the system in a short window or with available resources may look like a pipe dream.

This should neither slow your momentum nor cause you to abandon the strategic plan to fix the enterprise system. You can exercise a staged implementation. Automate as much as possible, but use manual procedures where necessary. Proof of concept or validation testing may cause delay in rollout.

You may also establish a compliance data mart as an elegant stopgap measure. Extract, clean, profile and validate only the data required for compliance. If multiple projects are underway, this option may not be any easier; however, it can potentially fix time line, quality, process and reporting requirements.

The final installment in this series will cover how IT can continuously drive compliance, competitive advantage and enterprise efficiency in concert with the enterprise strategic plan. From the quality/ continuous improvement Six Sigma perspective and project management perspectives, what should be in place?

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