How long does it take to set up a compliance training program?

Employees are bored. The company is expanding internationally or entering a new market. Your training materials were created in 2003...

No matter the reason, you will outgrow your current compliance training program at some point. Unfortunately, once you see the need for new compliance training, your work is just starting.There seems to be a million training options and there’s no “one way” to do things. How long is this going to take? Where do you even start?

Fortunately, help is here. We’ve detailed a compliance training plan which helps you understand how long it will take to take to get your organization from start to finish. 

Here is a quick summary of the compliance training program creation process: 

  1. Planning - 4-9 weeks
    • Gather Information - 1-3 weeks
    • Choosing Compliance Training Content - 1-2 weeks
    • Final Planning - 2-4 weeks
  2. Acquiring or Creating Training - 4-16+ weeks
    • Choose a content deployment method - 0-1 week(s)
    • Choose a content creation method - 3-5 weeks
    • Create training modules - 1-10+ weeks
  3. Implementation - 2-6 weeks

TOTAL: 10-25+ weeks

(assuming you require at least 3+ compliance topics covered and depending on a number of factors discussed in detail below)

First Step – Planning

“Measure twice, cut once” is great advice for DIY carpenters (I learned this the hard way), and it’s no different for compliance training. You must understand the risks your company faces and plan to mitigate them through training before you jump into content creation. Otherwise, you will end up with training that doesn’t engage employees and won’t help your company avoid trouble. 

  • Gather information: 1-3 weeks

You should start the planning process by gathering all the information you’ll need to make informed decisions. What information does this include? 

Well, for starters you’ll need to understand your audience. Is this training meant for company-wide roll-out to all employees? Or are you targeting a specific group who are exposed to high levels of risk? If the training pertains to a particular group, you should interview people who are involved with that group to understand what risks they actually face so the training is engaging and you don’t waste time. If the training is generalized, you still may need to gather information about risks faced in your particular industry. Does your company have a high market share? Do employees deal often with government officials? These are critical data points to gather before you plan out training topics. 

During this information gathering stage, you will also need to determine:

  • Your budget (amount, capital expense versus operating expense, etc.)
  • Your internal resources (personnel, time, etc.)
  • Current training content resources (internal or external; custom or template)
  • Current training delivery resources (e.g., learning management system for online training)
  • Any training formatting restrictions
  • Any issues with buy-in from executive management

Once you’ve gathered all this information, you’re ready to move onto stage 2 – choosing content. 

  • Choosing compliance training content  – 1-2 weeks

Once you have gathered all of the information discussed in the planning section, it’s time to create a compliance training curriculum for the group of employees (or all employees) you’re targeting.

What exactly does this mean?

To start, you should use content that is relevant to your employees.

Compliance training cannot waste employees’ time. If the perception is that the training is a waste of time, then it won’t matter how “cool” your training looks. It must tell employees how to avoid risk in their daily jobs and no more.

Employees don’t care about the origin of the law. They don’t care about topics that don’t pertain to them - why would an employee who answers phones need to know about government contracting requirements? So get understand their needs and get specific!

Let’s start with the basics. If you’re creating new compliance training for all employees, you’ll want to consider at least some of these topics: 

  • Ethical decision-making
  • Code of conduct
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Reporting misconduct
  • Harassment/discrimination
  • Fraud
  • Anti-retaliation
  • Information security
  • Anti-corruption/anti-bribery
  • Insider trading

Some other topics you may want to consider for targeted groups (e.g., sales, supply chain, etc.), but could also be used for all employees (depending on your industry) are:

  • Data privacy
  • Records retention
  • Antitrust and unfair competition
  • Social media use
  • Export compliance
  • Anti-money laundering
  • Government contracting
  • Intellectual property
  • Contracts
  • Employment laws (ADA, FMLA, ADEA, etc.)
  • Labor laws (Protected concerted activity, etc.)
  • Other (industry-specific topics)

Now that you’ve chosen topics, you’re ready to move on to finalizing the details of your plan.

  • Final planning details - 2-4 weeks

Assuming you’ve gathered all the information you need, it’s time to put pen to paper. Some questions you’ll want to answer in your final plan include:

  • What’s your budget and how should it be spent? 
  • Is it a yearly budget or a one-time expense? 
  • When do you need to roll-out the compliance training?
  • Are you going to develop your own content, license it from someone else or have it made custom for you (custom training is less costly than you think!)?
  • What internal resources do you have and how should they be used?
  • Will training be done in-person, online or in another format?
  • If the training will be done online, what are the formatting requirements for your learning management system?
  • Will you use PowerPoint, animated videos, live-action videos, e-learning (Articulate, etc.) or another format?
  • Will you have assessments?
  • How often will training be given?
  • What groups will receive training?
  • Other

These plans are truly unique to your organization.

The key to successfully launching a compliance training program is to make sure you answer all these questions in advance. This way you’ll minimize unexpected roadblocks which always come up during any large program implementation.

Second Step - Acquiring or Creating Training

The next phase of setting up a compliance training program is acquiring or creating the content and putting it in a usable format for your employees. 

  • Choose a content deployment method (in-person, online, etc.) – 0-1 weeks

There is no “right way” to provide training to your employees, but certainly the easiest way is to use online learning. Although in-person training can be extremely effective, as questions are answered immediately by the experts in the room, they’re extremely time-consuming and difficult to use in large organizations. Online learning loses some of the personal touch, but today’s learning management systems can host your content, track employee completion rates, track employee assessment results and much more. Online learning also makes it incredibly easy to train large groups of people. 

To be clear, the “right” choice depends entirely on your audience. If you’re planning on a discreet targeted training session for a small group on a yearly basis, it may be best to do in-person training. For code of conduct training, it’s probably best to use an online source. 

  • Choose a content creation method (in-house or external) – 3-5 weeks

Now we come to perhaps the hardest part of the process: choosing whether to develop internally or to use a third party vendor. Then if you choose to move forward with a third party vendor, what kind of content provider do you choose - licensed content or custom content (which again is less pricey than you think)?

Here are the pros and cons for each type of compliance training content creation:

  • Develop training in-house – Building your own training can be very rewarding. You understand your employees better than any outside content provider and will be uniquely qualified to build training specifically for them. However, you should be aware that building training consumes an enormous amount of time. How much time? Well it’s estimated that for every one hour of online training, you spend over 40+ hours (!) in development! Since you already have a day job, many companies turn to outside providers for their content. 
  • External – Licensed content - For international organizations with large budgets, you should consider licensing a multi-lingual content library from a large training services provider. These companies can be useful as you can access their content right away and sometimes choose from a large array of topics. Unfortunately, because they rely on topic libraries, the training is not purpose-built for your employees (like it would be if you had built it).
  • External – Custom content - For other organizations looking to spend their more limited budget in a targeted manner, it might make sense to hire someone to build customized training which meets the needs of your particular organization. Custom training is an excellent option as it provides all the benefits of in-house training, but with none of the work and even more of the design and training expertise! It can also be very cost effective. For example, with our custom training options, there is a one-time production fee. No annual licensing fees. Plus, the training is developed with your employees in mind. Our goal is to have your employees feel like the training was created specifically for them!

Okay, you get the picture. Once you’ve selected a training option, it’s time to create the training modules. 

  • Create training modules (8-10+ weeks for in-house training, 6-8 weeks for custom training, 1-2 weeks for licensed content)

How long will it take to finalize your compliance training content? It’s entirely dependent on which content creation method you selected. For simplicities’ sake, if you choose licensed content, it’s a matter of picking out which of the standard template modules you want employees to review.

If you choose to make the training in-house, the amount of development time is going to fluctuate vastly based on (1) what fires you have to put out during the development phase, (2) your experience with training development and (3) the resources available to you.

An FYI for anyone considering doing their own development: if you think you need 2 hours of training to cover all your compliance topics, you’ll likely need to spend 80+ hours (!) building the training.

It’s a major challenge to find that time. Trust me, I’ve been there, done that. 

But let’s say you like the idea of a one-time expense for highly targeted, engaging, customized training. What does that process look like? Well here’s the process we normally take with our custom training clients:

  • Step 1 – Engagement and ideation – During the initial phase, we talk about your training wants, needs and desires. What do you envision if we hit a “home-run” on this training? We talk through your company, your audience, the employees, the formatting, and everything else. 
  • Step 2 – Planning – Next we build you a custom training plan with materials designed to engage your employees and transfer knowledge into the workplace. Again, we want your employees to feel like the training was designed specifically for them – an employee, at your company, in their role, in this year. 
  • Step 3 – Content creation – After we agree on the plan, we create and deliver to you the first drafts of the scripts, videos, presentations we decided on.
  • Step 4 – Review and revise – You check out our work and make comments (twice).
  • Step 5 – Finalize training content – We send you the final content. Congrats!

Now that the training content has been created and delivered, how do we get it into the hands of your employees?

Third Step - Training Implementation - 2-6 weeks

By this point, you have your content and you know how your employees will access it. Let’s roll it out. 

Rolling out training is not as easy as simple as snapping your fingers. If you chose online training, the content needs to be uploaded onto the cloud or into an LMS. If you are doing training in person, you need to find time on everyone’s calendar. 

Once all the small details are taken care of, it’s time for a communication plan. Ideally, you launch your new compliance training along with a communication from the CEO or executive team relaying the importance of the training (again this is dependent on your audience – such a step is not required for training a small group). Additionally, you will need to make sure all employees understand how to access the training, take the training and take the assessment. 

Back to our summary - you should plan on at least 10+ weeks for planning, development and implementation of a compliance training program. 

If you're interested in talking in more detail about how we can streamline this process for you, please email us right away!