The state of EWRM part III – Essential EWRM practices


We ‘ve established in the prior two parts of this series of posts that current EWRM practices may lead to situations in which the original and ultimately responsible parties, the process owners, become disenfranchised and no longer own the responsibility of managing risks to their objectives, although this is a key responsibility.

Process owners own the risks

This situation is of course problematic and untenable over the longer term. Hence, a good EWRM implementation needs to put the responsibility for dealing with issues that threaten the achievement of objectives with those who should own it: the process owners.

Essential EWRM practice nr 1 – Process owners own the risks related to their objectives

Process owners document solutions

But how do we ensure that risk management measures, once developed and taken, are appropriately coordinated across the organization, if the ultimate responsibility for the management of those risks is in the hands of the process owners? EWRM needs to be supported by a practice where solutions developed to answer issues are timely gathered and made available to others. Wherever risks are being managed, those risks and the related risk management initiatives need to be adequately documented.

Essential EWRM practice nr 2 – Proces owners document their risk management practices and make these available

Expert document their expertise

A third challenge is the matching of the available knowledge in the organization with problems it can solve. This is a challenge that goes wider than risk management. Not only the solutions to issues need to be documented. No, the organization needs to capture in the most comprehensive way possible what type of expertise is available. Ideally, the relevance of that expertise in internally or even externally validated by other recognized experts.

Essential EWRM practice nr 3 – Expertise is captured and experts are accessible

Process owners document open issues

It does not end there, of course. There are likely to be risk management needs that are not adequately responded by their process owners. These need to be mapped as well.

Essential EWRM practice nr 4 – Risk management needs are documented and made accessible

Our risk management problem has now become for hopefully a significant amount of issues a matching problem. We need to find a way to match risk management needs to either applicable solutions or to available expertise, first within the organization.

Enter knowledge management systems. Modern knowledge management systems go far beyond what traditional CMS can offer. With full text search, heuristic and fuzzy logic matching the current knowledge management systems can link pieces of information residing in different systems together to a coherent whole. Ideally, they can match needs to solutions or expertise. The validation of those links will become a key role in the organization, a role for a risk manager.

However, in order to make the matches optimal, documentation needs to be as complete as possible. This is another area of responsibility that can be attributed to a risk manager.

The risk manager connects the dots

Fundamentally, the role of the new risk manager will change significantly. He or she will be responsible for:

  • ensuring the complete documentation of issues, solutions and expertise by the process owners and experts;
  • facilitating between experts and those process owners in need of expertise;
  • following up on the adequacy of response by the experts and identifying possible additional support for the process owner seeking to resolve an issue;
  • timely identification of missing elements.

In conclusion

The practice of risk management, especially of EWRM, may be different from what we think it should be. I have proposed an alternative. I’ve been influenced in my thinking by Matthew Leitch. Our skype calls were extremely interesting and have triggered a lot of thinking in this area.

If you want to know more about knowledge management systems and thinking, you can be worse than to visit ICMS group’s website here. These resources provide you with some basic insight in the state of knowledge management solutions today.