Avoid these five change management pitfalls in your compliance projects


Bizmod's Sandi Hager explains what change management challenges you need to overcome to ensure success.

Change Management is one of the core elements of any compliance project, as it creates a cohesive approach for the implementation of the project. It is vital for the organisation to ensure that there is commitment not only at an executive level but also with the actual users.  

A compliance project has many layers and can be very complex, and therefore the success of any project relies on all the gaps being closed and approached in a systematic way. Individuals or designated teams need to ensure that all the parts are working together. Training and communication are a given, however, if it’s not done in a change management framework there will not be sustainability.

Sustainability comes from managing the complexity of the environment and the business needs to have an understanding of when and how to measure and reinforce the change. Many businesses forgo this element and assume that they can wait until the end to review the project; however, by this time, the sustainability of the project will have been jeopardised.  

Implementing change, especially in compliance, is high-risk, and the business needs to continuously dip back in to see if it is working and ask themselves what they are measuring, what the issues are and what they need to go back and reinforce. 

Avoid these pitfalls to ensure the success of your compliance project: 

  1. The business typically misunderstands change. When referring to change the leadership team tends to view communication and training as the only requirements.  We know that it is much more than this, especially when handling a compliance project. There are not only process issues to deal with, but also behavioural concerns. It doesn’t matter how many policies and procedures are put in place, it will never be sustainable if the employees don’t understand the reasons for the changes and that their behaviour towards how they work and how they apply themselves need to change.
  2. You’ve failed to achieve executive and management buy-in and ownership. It is imperative that leadership realises that change managers are there to support them. The leadership team, themselves, are the actual change agents. They need to be seen as a team that views the project with the utmost importance and are totally on board.  
  3. People think that the change project is just a box-ticking exercise. They need to move beyond this and understand the benefits and opportunities of the compliance project for the business and themselves.
  4. There is no clear understanding of what exactly is going to be implemented and what maturity level is necessary. It is important from a project management and change management perspective for everyone to understand what will be delivered. People need to understand how long it takes to change behaviour. It is a reiterative process to get to full behaviour change. Change managers are there to assist the team with change and not just manage the change. The change happens with the way that you implement it. It’s a hand-in-hand approach.
  5. Regulations and signoffs increase delays. If the leadership team has not bought into the project the timelines will inevitably be prolonged.

Related articles

Why social impact is a critical issue for CFOs

With South Africa among the bottom 20 percent of countries when it comes to social impact effectiveness, Kearney experts unpack how CFOs can align purpose with profit to improve the “S” in their ESG impact.

CFOs should be Road Runners, not a Wile E. Coyote, says Ray de Villiers

Future of work guru Ray de Villiers says that, as the role of finance teams changes due to generative AI taking over their number-crunching responsibilities, it’s up to CFOs to make sure their people understand what the new future will look like, and the power they have to impact it.

How to be an optimistic CFO in 2024

The CFO Centre’s Rowan de Klerk reveals how CFOs can remain optimistic in the new year despite the challenging business environment South Africa is in.