Risk Management: A Three-Step Process

Companies without a risk management strategy are vulnerable to disaster, where problems that were foreseeable deal a blow to profitability and even the organization’s existence. Proper risk management programs can help a company save time and money during internal and external audits. For companies regulated by governing bodies, risk management might be a required component of doing business by protecting things like public health records, financial statements, and consumer data.

In developing a risk management strategy, a company should follow a three-step process. The process kickoffs with working meetings that analyze business risks to discover the ones that pertain to the way the company does business. Once these risks have been identified, the company must try to quantify them by probability and extent of damage. Lastly, the company must develop a plan to manage and protect against each viable risk as well as developing a plan to mitigate consequences if the potential harm occurs.

A risk management initiative begins with an intensive look at a company because each organization is different. As important as risk management is to the success of the company, a program that is overly burdensome can negatively and needlessly hurt the bottom line. If a company is having trouble knowing what risks to focus on, they can reach out to professional consultants to guide them in the process. These consultants can help an organization create risk assessment groups of key stakeholders and business process owners.

Once these risk assessment groups have identified the specific risks to a company, they create a matrix of the probability of each risk combined with the impact on the business if the risk occurs. The higher the score, the more resources must be allocated to avoid and mitigate the risk. For example, risks that are likely to occur and would have extreme consequences if they did get the most attention. Conversely, low level risks that would inflict very little harm can be put on the back burner.

By assigning each risk to a business process owner, a company can assign responsibility to individuals, ensuring they get the attention they need. Without personal ownership, the risk can be forgotten and sneak up on a business. It is these business process owners who have the expertise needed to define an effective risk management strategy, ensuring that a mitigation plan remains relevant.

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