It’s easy to forget how little a new compliance client knows. Not because they’re willfully ignorant or flaky, but simply because they don’t know what they’re venturing into. They vastly underestimate the complexity of what they’re walking into. You’ve been around the block more times than you can count—but for your client, compliance is a foreign language. They simply don’t know what they’re in for.

Your clients are far from prepared for the compliance journey. They don’t know about the jagged terrain or the storm of chaos that waits ahead. You’ve been there, and you know the pitfalls they won’t see.

You can make the compliance engagement easier on your client—and on you—by advising them what they should expect along the path of the compliance engagement. The key is to lay out the entire engagement, from start to finish—not just explaining the scope of the work, but mapping out the journey, pointing out the pitfalls, setting expectations for the challenges and difficulties that are hiding around the corner. When chaos hits and the challenges mount, your client won’t be taken by surprise and you’ll be able to lead them more effectively.

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Let’s look at four ways you can prepare your client for the compliance journey ahead of them.

Your Process

Every assessment firm has their own process, and it’s easy to forget that what makes sense to you might be clear as mud to your client. And if they’ve worked with other assessors in the past, they may expect to do things the same way as before.

Walk through your process before you start the engagement. Make sure everyone you’ll be working with understands how you intend to run the project. Put it in writing, and reiterate it with your point of contact throughout the engagement. People are forgetful, and it often takes a lot of repetition for it to sink in.

Be sure to communicate:

  • The timeline—including all milestones and deliverables
  • How to use your templates
  • Everyone’s role—on your team, and on your client’s team
  • How, when and where to submit evidence (and what NOT to do)
  • Cadence of status meetings across the engagement
  • Best ways to contact you
  • What you’re willing (and not willing) to help them with

Infographic: 5 Ways Compliance Software Makes Assessments Easy

Their Investment

Many organizations expect the compliance assessment to be quick and easy, because they think of compliance as a check-the-box formality. When they get hit with the reality of the work that’s involved, they suddenly find themselves racing to complete tasks without the internal resources they need. The rest of the engagement is now thrown into turmoil as the project is behind schedule and the client is frantically throwing all kinds of evidence your way.

You can avoid that mess by making it clear up front what kind of investment they’re going to be putting into the engagement.

  • How much time will be required of the key players?
  • What will they be responsible for?
  • What kind of effort should they expect to put into the engagement?
  • What other internal resources will need to be allocated to the effort?
  • What are the consequences of not taking compliance seriously?

Potential Disappointments

No compliance engagement is all sunshine and rainbows. Invariably, you will find issues that your client needs to address, or you’ll reject evidence and send your client back to the drawing board, several times.

That can be frustrating to people who expect too much out of their own efforts, especially if they’re inexperienced with compliance requirements. Many clients have an unspoken belief that they shouldn’t have any issues, and that finding problems is always bad news.

You’ll deal with less drama if you set proper expectations early on. Give your client permission to stumble along the way, warn them that stumbling will indeed happen, and clarify what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

Upcoming Challenges

The point of contact at your client’s organization is in for a long ride. They’ll be the go-between for you and all of their internal resources, which puts them smack-dab in the center of the compliance hurricane with you. Prepare them for this journey, which will involve:

  • Badgering employees to deliver evidence
  • Keeping track of the evidence that gets dumped on their lap, from every direction
  • Serving as point-person for executives, vendors, assessors and the internal compliance team
  • Maintaining the tracking tool you’ve provided
  • Spearheading changes to policies and procedures to be in compliance
  • Juggling the engagement on top of their normal work priorities
  • Engaging new vendors or swapping some out

You’ve probably seen some clients handle these challenges better than other clients. That means you’ve got a repertoire of best practices you can pass on to help them succeed in their role.

Lead Your Clients Successfully Through Compliance

Compliance can be a cluster of a journey, and your client probably won’t be ready for it. But if you map out the engagement ahead and set their expectations, you can avoid a lot of the drama and chaos that may otherwise ensue.

This is just the beginning of your client’s compliance journey. Stay with us, and we’ll help you equip your clients every step of the way. Subscribe to the blog below for more content on leading a successful engagement.


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