Make Sure Your GRC Program Goes Out with a Bang, Not a Fizzle

The 4th of July has to be one of my favorite holidays. Looking back on past Independence Day celebrations, I realize they’re about more than family fun and great fireworks. They’re also a lesson in the importance of spectacular endings. Consider these two scenarios:

Experience #1: The Fizzle

My favorite uncle put on his own fireworks show, utilizing (questionably) legal fireworks and a self-cut PVC pipe launcher. With the family watching from the lakeside, the show started off with two successful launches resulting in an impressive display of light, sound and smoke. Unfortunately, the third launch resulted in the mortar barely floating out of the PVC pipe and into the lake where it exploded and sent a geyser of water into the night sky. While memorable, it wasn’t exactly a success and it didn’t inspire much confidence.

Experience #2: The Bang

After piling into a pontoon boat and heading out across a lake in northeastern Arkansas, my family and I arrived at the site of the fireworks show just before dark. Soon after we arrived, the show began. Sharing the lake with hundreds of boats, we looked on in silent awe, watching color explode across the sky. It was perfect, a sharp contrast to the first experience and definitely one for the record books.

Lesson learned: Execution makes all the difference. So whether you’re planning an unforgettable 4th of July fireworks show or (in my case) a massive GRC software implementation, here are three things you need to keep mind to make sure your project ends with a bang…not a fizzle.

1. PLAN FOR THE UNEXPECTED

Similar to a fireworks show, a GRC project can be put on a successful track only when proper time and resources are utilized in the planning stages. That being said, even though GRC projects don’t typically involve gunpowder, an unexpected flare up (whether tech or stakeholder related) can result in part or all of the project going up in smoke.

When planning for the unexpected, communication between the stakeholder and the GRC consultant (or consulting team) is key.

As a consultant, your job is to facilitate conversation with stakeholders to flush out potential issues or pitfalls that may occur. Once identified, work with the stakeholders to develop contingency plans to keep the GRC project moving in the right direction.

2. MAKE THE GRAND FINALE GREAT

GRC consulting projects, just like fireworks shows, inevitably come to an end. To make sure your project is closed out in a positive and memorable way, fully transition the project over to your client stakeholders, and make sure they’re equipped to run with the solution when you’re no longer on call.

By transferring knowledge to the right stakeholders at the right time, you will set your project up for a brilliant grand finale.

3. KEEP THE MEMORIES ALIVE

The smoke will clear, your ears will stop ringing and your eyesight will return to normal, but the memories of a great ending are never quick to fade. As your project is coming to a close, do your part and make sure your hard work is also not quickly forgotten. Take a step back and assess the long-term outlook for the solutions you’ve implemented and ask:

Are end users and administrators set up for success?

Will future users be able to get up to speed quickly?

Is a solution review process in place to account for environment/process changes?

Projects are often focused on the here and now—the immediate wins. But be sure to engage your stakeholders as the project draws to a close to determine the long-term success plan.

This may be outside the scope of the SOW or seem like extra work, but remember that you have the ability to leave stakeholders with a high quality solution and positive memories of a smooth project, both of which can result in repeat business.

Let’s face it: no one remembers the fizzle of a sparkler. We only remember the big bangs. So don’t let your projects fade into the night sky. Give your clients a great show.

— Michael Blumreich

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