Where will you be in five years?
A recent meme on the internet went like this “In 2015, no one who answered the question, “Where will you be in 5 years?”, got the answer right”
While it is not possible to forecast everything that may occur; like a global pandemic in 2020 that creates widespread unemployment, sucks dry all consumer confidence and leads to the lock down of the state of Victoria for 6 weeks! It is however, better to have some plan than no plan at all.
The pandemic has shown us that we shouldn’t just pay lip service to risk management and that we do need to have robust strategies in place to manage risk no matter the size of our business. As to what tools we can use to support our risk management strategies?, we can always start with spreadsheets, a word document or even an A4 sheet of paper. The question though is, do we need software to support risk management?
A different ball game
Oliver Poss is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Risiko, a risk management consultancy, and has long standing experience helping businesses implement effective and efficient risk management frameworks. Oliver says that the one thing that is obvious is that as your team grows in size, manual follow-up to make sure everyone has provided you with the information you need can be inefficient, time-consuming and costly.
As your team grows in size, manual follow-up to make sure everyone has provided you with the information you need can be inefficient, time-consuming and costly.
Oliver Poss - Founder & Principal - Risiko
The geographic spread of your team also has an impact on the efficiency of manual processes. When your operation is confined to one office in Sydney, it may seem easy to manage risk with a spreadsheet. When you have ten offices around the country OR think of one hundred people working in the field or working from home. We are looking at an entirely different ball game. The need for fit for purpose tools that support the way you function are more important now than ever before.
What can software do?
Drive stakeholder confidence
In our experience, implementing our risk management software Folio over the past six years, we find that quite often the push for software to support risk management processes comes from the Board and/or the Audit Risk Committee, a regulator or a funder (in the case of Not for Profits). These stakeholders either have a duty of care or reputation to uphold or are concerned that their money may not be managed effectively. Ergo they are keen to see that there is a proper framework in place to manage risk. Manual or spreadsheet based processes tend not to fill them with confidence.
Reduce the cost of managing risk
While it may seem like you are saving by managing risk and compliance on a spreadsheet. You may find that the inefficiencies of this approach create other costs. These costs could manifest as your risk and compliance manager spending lots of time chasing team members up to collect data for reporting rather than focusing on new ways to analyse and present data to management. Or an incident reported in an email being missed because a team member was so overloaded with work that they forgot to forward the email to the incident management team.
All these issues are easily addressed in a structured software tool that is designed to apply a framework around how risk and compliance are managed and allow Managers to focus on what they have been hired to do – analysis and insight.
Risiko’s Oliver Poss has worked with our Risk & Compliance Software, Folio and he finds that workflows in Folio can be closely aligned with the organisation’s processes. The workflows automatically guide managers and their reports through the organisation’s procedures. These key advantages of software over manual processes increase compliance with policies and procedures and reduce training effort as well as costs. For Oliver, these are hard to ignore.
Software is a time saver
Risk management software can be a time saver. Time and again our clients tell us how much time they save being able to subscribe to a report and receive it in their inbox as a PDF rather than having to collate the information in spreadsheets.
By enforcing certain mandatory fields on incident reporting you are able to get all the information that you need upfront rather than having to chase people up for information gaps later.
Information standardised and centralised
Software will ensure that you have a standardised framework by which you can collect data from your team. Risks are assessed consistently by everyone involved applying the same enterprise risk framework. Evidence documents from incidents or audits whether they are from the Darwin Office or the Sydney Office are recorded on the one database and are easy to report when regulators or auditors require the information. All this is harder to achieve through a manual process and spreadsheets that can easily be copied over with no audit trail.
The ability to manage other governance processes
Folio is designed to provide a range of different governance functions. Apart from risk compliance, incidents and audit, Folio takes things even further to cover contracts, credentials, conflicts of interest and more. Ian Simpson the CIO of Junction Australia says that this flexibility is excellent as it allows them to build a system out according to their needs.
Multi-dimensional Risk Management
A significant drawback of spreadsheets is that they are typically one-dimensional while risk is not. The likelihood and consequence of risk assessments could be affected by the number of incidents reported as an example. The relationship between risk, audits and corrective actions and their status would be hard to tease out on a spreadsheet. Risk is multi-dimensional and this is best depicted in fit for purpose software.
Where will you really be in five years?
Coming back to the meme on the internet. “Where will you be in 5 years?” If you have a solid risk management plan and have made a considered decision regarding the tools to support risk management, you should be in a place of strength.
Because software can be part of the mix of tools that instill stakeholder confidence, reduce costs, ensure better utilisation of time and help understand all the related dimensions of risk, it makes a very compelling case as a choice over the spreadsheet.