Ignorance of the law is no excuse!

The legal principle “ignorantia legis neminem excusat” (Latin for ignorance of law excuses no one) has never been more apt than it is today. In some sectors – like financial services – companies have had to take entire teams on board to navigate the quagmire of the ever changing legislative landscape.

IT project managers (PMs) will know better than anyone the value and power of data and the importance of securing and using the data appropriately. PMs carry a double burden, ensuring that their project stays both within the legal frameworks of the industry that the business operates and the company’s own IT security plan.

Risk management is one of the ten knowledge areas in the Project Management Institute’s PMBOK in which a project manager must be competent and effective risk management is key to any project’s success. PMs are expected to keep up to date with the legislative landscape to ensure that the organization does not flout any laws in pursuit of the project in hand. This includes legislation that is on the horizon and which may be enacted by the time, or shortly after, the project goes live.

Legislation like the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) and anti-corruption legislation, to name but two examples, need careful analysis and consideration to ensure that all aspects of the projects – both in terms of the execution and outcome of the project – are within the law.

The PM is also responsible for keeping the project team up to date on legislation that impacts on the project every step of the way. This means providing regular feedback and information sessions to the project team on relevant legislative requirements as the project unfolds.

A useful resource for any PM is ongoing dialogue with the internal compliance team, which is ideally equipped to provide guidance on legislation affecting the business.

Sometimes even the most diligently reviewed projects can transgress the rules and then it is important that the PM has protected himself by conducting due diligence in terms of securing information and having communicated all the relevant information regarding legislation requirements and policies to the project team.

© Tony McManus, McManus Consulting.
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