How do you know that your product or service is compliant with government requirements? As a product manager, I’ve had to investigate legal requirements for my products. I’ve had to comply with ADA disability requirements, financial law, and transportation law. I highly recommend building a relationship with people who work for the government. Here are some tips for making sure you know the government’s requirements as the law – and your products – inevitably change.
- Attend industry events. This is how you can hear about current and future regulations that will impact your market.
- Make government connections. You can make these connections at industry events, but sometimes it’s much trickier. Sometimes you need an introduction from someone else.
- When you have a list of a few things you want to confirm, ask to have a meeting with them. I’m in favor of scheduling a phone call, and including people who won’t take over the call.
- For the meeting, make a list of things you believe are the requirements of the law. Go in prepared and let them correct you. instead of making them explain what could be dozens of pages of legal policy.
- Send a script to them of things you are going to ask. Let them come to the meeting prepared, too.
- Include what you think their answers are going to be in your script. I like to say, “my understanding of x is…” They’ll correct you when you’re wrong, possibly before the meeting.
- When communicating with your government connections, respect their time. Stick to your script. Avoid tangents. Don’t invite colleagues who will make the meeting longer than it needs to be.
- When communicating with your government connections, don’t tattle on your competitors or their clients. It’s tempting, but your focus is on your client and your product.
- When communicating with your government connections, don’t ask how to cheat the system. Again…tempting, but even a hypothetical cheating question will make you sound like you’re trying to cheat the system.
- Document what you discussed in your meeting for internal stakeholders. This is where that script comes in handy, because you’ll be able to use it to communicate with your stakeholders.
- Don’t give your government connections’ contact information to your clients. You should want your clients to trust you as the expert, and not bypass you to talk to your connection.
- When clients question your interpretation of the law, insist that you’re right. Be the expert that they need you to be.
- Treat the government like another one of your clients. They have requirements you have to fulfill, and sometimes you need to talk to them to clarify. It can be a very similar relationship. And you’ll want to treat them with the same respect.
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