Project Management

A New Twist on Risk: 6 Reminders for Running a Compliance Project

PMI Southwest Ohio Chapter

Paul has run a plethora of projects in multiple industries throughout his 20-year career, ranging from process improvement to agile to most recently cyber-security. Paul is also a reputable speaker, drawing practical and humorous conclusions from the "trenches" of his employers. Paul's dedication as a PM practitioner started decades ago, when he became one of the first 10,000 people to earn the PMP.

Imagine one day your boss comes to you and asks you to do a project that seems to have no value.

“Will the users like it?” you ask.

“Maybe…” says the boss.

“Okay…will it yield revenue or profit?”

Not directly,” answers your boss.

“Then it has to improve productivity, right?”


Then you remember all those articles you read about business justification and benefits realization. Before you can open your mouth to object, your boss says, “It needs to be done to reduce our company risk. This is a compliance project.”

If you work in a heavily regulated industry where the rules change frequently, you will very likely have to run compliance projects. Compliance is simply conformity or obedience to a law or standard, established externally or internally to the organization.

I’ve handled numerous projects that bring a firm into compliance in my career, and despite outcomes that don’t contribute to the bottom line or enhanced productivity, my accomplishments have been that my employer can satisfy a new law, pass an audit, and (in some high-stakes circumstances) continue eligibility to bid on multi-million-dollar contracts or avoid millions of dollars in fines.

The project results are to become obedient or stay …

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