Compliance, standards and regulations



The compliance, standards and regulations competence element describes how the individual interprets and balances the external and internal restrictions in a given area such as country, company or industry. Compliance is the process of ensuring adequate adherence to a given set of norms. Compliance requirements operate on a spectrum from voluntary and informal to mandatory and formal. Standards and regulations influence and define the way projects should be organised and managed to be feasible and successful. Standards and regulations address compliance with requirements that include legislation and regulations, contracts and agreements, intellectual property and patents, health, safety, security and environmental protection and professional standards. 



The purpose of this competence element is to enable the individual to influence and manage the alignment of the relevant standards and regulations within the permanent organisation; the relevant sources of legislation and the standards and norms of both the organisation and the wider society and to improve the organisation’s approach to these areas.



Projects face different restrictions and requirements for developing a product or service alongside the effect of the production and project management processes. These restrictions correspond to the geographical, social and professional specifics of the project and its external environment in the form of laws, standards and regulations. Before starting a project, the individual needs to analyse the scope and configuration of the project and seek out the relevant standards and regulations that will have a direct or indirect influence on it. The relevant standards and regulations should be considered as potential risks and opportunities that need management attention. Compliance with relevant standards and regulations may affect the organisational structures, processes and culture. In the domain of project management, the individual may be called upon to understand and integrate relevant standards and regulations within their project.

This competence element includes benchmarking and improving the organisational project management competences. Developing project management competence is a constant process, a part of an organisation’s continuous improvement strategy and the duty of every individual. It involves learning and improving strategies for influencing the project management culture in organisations. The individual should use this competence to demonstrate how all parts and layers of the management system might be improved. By increasing the project, programme or portfolio management competence, the organisation increases its ability to choose and perform successful projects, programmes and portfolios and thus achieve the sustainability of the organisation.


Key competence indicators

Identify and ensure that the project complies  with all relevant legislation

The individual knows the legal policies of an organisation and is able to implement them in a project. Furthermore the individual knows which parts of law regulations (e.g. civil, criminal, labour, intellectual property, etc) and common good practices are relevant to the project. The individual has to ensure that the project operates within the law and should be able to recognise or find out which activities have special legal requirements and what law principles apply to it. The individual is able to recognise the unknown legal issues that need to be considered and therefore knows the formal procedures for obtaining specialist advice and how to identify and provide the relevant project information. The individual also knows which requirements of the regulatory agencies concerned with the project scope are relevant to the project, how these requirements can be satisfied and which inspection procedures should be applied.


  • Acknowledges the legal context and its applications
  • Filters out and uses the relevant law regulation
  • Identifies risks in the regulations in relation to the project and consults the experts
  • Acknowledges and manages the regulatory agencies as stakeholders
  • Aligns procurement routes with the regulations


Identify and ensure that the project complies with all relevant health, safety, security and environmental regulations (HSSE)

The individual knows which of the health, safety, security and environmental (HSSE) regulations are relevant to the project. Further, the individual is able to recognise any potential HSSE issue that needs special attention. The individual is able to determine how project activities or project products can affect the project team members and those who will use the product and the environment and then applies HSSE protective measures when necessary. The individual balances economic, social and environmental aspects of the project to meet the requirements for sustainable development and to make the project results sustainable.


  • Identifies the relevant HSSE regulations for the project
  • Defines the HSSE context for the project
  • Identifies risks arising from implementing HSSE measures to the project
  • Provides a safe, secure and healthy environment for the project team members
  • Applies HSSE for project sustainability


Identify and ensure that the project complies with all relevant codes of conduct and professional regulation 

The individual should be able to identify relevant professional regulations for the context in which the project operates. Each context usually has specific codes of conduct (ethical norms written down in formal documents) and trading customs which sometimes are prescribed by law. Moreover they are often directly tied with procurement procedures and, if not understood, could be a high risk for a project.


  • Knows the appropriate codes of business conduct
  • Knows the appropriate professional regulation for the particular industry sector (public administration, civil engineering, information technology, telecommunication, etc)
  • Identifies ethics principles
  • Identifies and uses the tacit trading laws not set by the code
  • Aligns procurement practices with the codes of business conduct
  • Works to prevent violation of the code by the project team members


Identify and ensure that the project complies with relevant sustainability principles and objectives

The individual is able to assess the impact of the project on the environment and society. Realising his or her responsibility, the individual researches, recommends and applies measures to limit or compensate negative consequences. The individual follows (or even exceeds) guidelines and rules on sustainable development coming from within the organisation and from the wider society and is able to realise a workable balance between the demands of society, impacts to the eco-environment and the economy. The individual understands that sustainability aspects, measures and attitudes often vary in different countries and cultures.


  • Identifies the social and environmental consequences of the project
  • Defines and communicates the sustainability targets for the project and its outcomes
  • Aligns objectives with organisational strategy for sustainability
  • Balances the demands of society, the environment and the economy (people, planet, profit) with project processes and products
  • Encourages the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies


Assess, use and develop professional standards and tools for the project

The individual is able to comply with and utilise top professional standards. Those good practices in project management come from a combination of the world leading standards and personally developed tools and methods. The individual takes them into account while selecting appropriate tools, methods and concepts (e.g. project lifecycle, stakeholder management, risk management, etc). Therefore an individual always tries to find the best recipe for managing the project by utilising top professional standards (one or several) and adding and developing further improvements. 


  • Identifies and uses the relevant professional standards
  • Identifies the specifics of a standard and manages the risks arising from applying a standard to a project
  • Identifies and uses the best practice for managing a project
  • Develops and implements custom made standards for managing project team members


Assess, benchmark and improve the organisational project management competence

The benchmarking project management competence is a process of continuous improvement by comparing the organisation’s project management processes with those which are identified as good practice. The individual strives to develop project management competence. The good practices can often be identified as those that apply in world-class organisations. Usually these organisations are promoted as top project management performers and have won internationally recognised project management awards (e.g. IPMA Global Project Excellence Award). The purpose of the benchmarking process is to gain superiority in project management by acquiring the know-how of a superior organisation. Organisational benchmarks often follow a staged maturity or competence model of organisations defining what structures, processes, methods and individual skills an organisation has to fulfil in order to reach a certain maturity level or class of competence. Benchmarking can be conducted on an internal basis (against different projects within an organisation), a competitive basis (against an organisation which is a direct competitor – often hard to tackle) and a functional or generic basis (against an organisation not competing in the same market or within the same industry). The Individual always tries to improve their project management in a way that contributes to the organisation’s strategic goals. Furthermore, the individual is able to identify the governing processes and structures (e.g. a project management office) relevant to the project management process and is able and willing to do or suggest improvements on an organisational level. Finally, improvements made are disseminated throughout the organisation.


  • Identifies and assesses the relevant deficient areas of organisational competence in project management
  • Identifies and sets relevant benchmarks for the deficient areas
  • Identifies the benchmarking baseline and best practice
  • Benchmarks current performance against the best practice
  • Identifies measures for the needed improvements
  • Implements the identified measures and assesses the benefits gained
  • Disseminates the acquired know-how throughout the project organisation