How To Successfully Implement Changes After An Audit

The 10 million dollar question in today’s essay, how to get everyone onboard when changes must be applied to company’s processes to stay in compliance?
How do you convey the message for successfully implementing the changes that are required?

My first answer “a nice bottle of ibuprofen, a miracle, a lot of prayers and hope.”

In regulated industries changes are constant.
The regulation can be vague at times to the point that most individuals reading it, will have a different view of how this should be implemented.

How this plays out? When the regulator interprets the regulation during the inspection, the view of the regulator can differ from the view of the audited. If this is the case than you are in for a bumpy ride.

The day of the audit has arrived, the regulator is doing the inspection. While going through the audit several findings arise. On top of that, some of the audited go on a “freestyle”,  answering the regulator in ambiguous ways that triggers extra findings.

On the last day of the audit you have been called in to assist during the recap meeting. Your company now needs to have a key expert to step in to review, with the regulator, the entire audit, including all the findings. From that meeting the regulator gives you the preliminary report. You are now having the daunting task, to spend your time to write a response. This  will encompass the changes required, to prove to the regulator you have made sufficient effort that should offsets the findings. You are now in the front line, to do “damage control”.  At this point you are crossing your fingers hoping you did enough to keep the company out of trouble.

The day has arrived, the final report is ready, you are going to meet with the regulator. While the fine is still pending you have their final report, after reviewing the report you must integrate changes into the company’s processes.

How do you present the new processes across the company? How do you gain the support from management?

Introducing changes in existing processes can be a “joyful” adventure or a “nightmare”. You need the full support of corporate to successfully implement them.
You start by scheduling an initial meeting with management to reveal the new processes. During the meeting everyone seemed open to the changes. While it seemed, management is on board, you are now presenting to the site that was impacted by the findings. Your changes are not very well received, in fact you are finding yourself in a middle of a battle ground. It is YOU versus THEM, as much as you try to convey the message. You feel a wall building, and  communication breaking down. Now you are faced with angry individuals who are not going to accept any changes. You have become public enemy number one!

By the time you are back at your desk. The site has raised their voices to corporate. The support you thought you had is now being questioned. You must figure it out, how can you respond to everyone. At this point you are wearing your favorite lime bulletproof jacket.

How can you be heard in the middle of the chaos?
The site under audit and found to be out of compliance now needs to implement the changes resulting from the audit. How can you get through to the site to start the new processes? How can you avoid future audit’s recurring findings that will translate into expensive fines? How to keep the site off the regulator’s radar, You do not want them to come back for inspection every other month!

You need to think outside of the “box”! Align yourself with some of the key managers, discuss the ramifications of that audit. I found one of the soft spot is cost, yes money! If you combine how much money the company is wasting with findings, adding your hours spent on fixing the situation. A nice graph showing the potential cost savings will speak thousands of words. I have seen managers changing their tune when they realized how much money was wasted. Especially looking at the site overall spending. By showing how much cost savings  a company can do, it will be well received. After all you are looking at the best interest of the company.

When the time comes to meet again with corporate the focus of the meeting has changed from questioning your process to appease the concerns they have heard from the site. You finally got through to them! Now it is time to face the site again. This time instead of meeting with everyone you are going to start at the top. A meeting with the key managers of the site combined with one person from corporate. This should gain the support and traction you need for the changes to become effective.

While you have gained traction and supporters on your side you still need to deal with the individuals that are directly impacted by those changes.

The day has come to meet with them. While a few of them are starting to see the light of day, the rest of them are not pleased about the new processes. At this point they have no choice but to apply the changes in their daily work.

You are going to hear complaints from the site for a long time, you are still going to be viewed as “public enemy number one” each time you are going to the site. Even by doing your best to help the company to stay compliant, you are never going to make everyone happy no matter what you say or do.

Being a “fixer” is not an easy job, most often you are the “least popular person”, your best friend is your favorite lime bulletproof jacket.

The hardest part for you is to be heard, in addition to have the support from corporate and the site management. If neither one of them is on board, they are now becoming part of the problem, not the solution. You have done your best to prevent further unnecessary “bleeding” from that audit. If the company chooses not to support you than they are the one’s to put themselves in the hot seat. You will be called sooner or later to fix that never ending nightmare.