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Lessons from 2020: Future-Proof Your Risk Playbook by Focusing on Agility

The pandemic didn’t substantially change the risks companies face. It simply added new ones. Did your risk technology help you adapt, or hold you back? 

In the midst of a pandemic that has profoundly changed the face of business in the last nine months, we’ve all come to appreciate the need for patience and flexibility. But how do companies effectively adapt to this new reality with still so many unknowns?

The crisis has forced organizational leaders to make quick decisions to solve urgent and immediate business continuity problems, from relocating employees to adjusting supply lines. It has also accelerated the need for companies to embrace digital transformation, altering business models in months rather than years.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the word for 2021 should be agile. Resilience is the key to recovering from the devastating impact of Covid-19 and agility is how we get there.

Knowing what to do and when to do it are critical steps to recovery. Understanding where tactical steps should be taken and aligning those with short and long-term strategic goals is imperative. You need to know when to go fast and when to slow down, when to make investments to support your goals and when to alter course. Covid-19 blew up many GRC roadmaps for data privacy, third-party risk and supply chain management. In fact, the pandemic has dramatically altered entire technology and workflow infrastructures that some companies have spent decades building.

Embracing an agile approach to risk management enables companies to identify, assess and adapt to risks more quickly to seize opportunities and gain a competitive edge in recovery.

This requires a continuous approach to risk management, much like what we’ve previously championed as perpetual business continuity planning and management at an enterprise level. In fact, that’s the very definition of agile: denoting the ability to triage tasks and to frequently reassess and adapt plans accordingly.

When we introduced the Risk Arc earlier this year, it was to serve as a blueprint for companies laying out clear operational steps to navigate for a successful recovery. What we found then was that companies were unclear of the steps needed to manage through the pandemic. Now that many companies have reconfigured workforces, managed costs, pivoted their business, operationalized their new normal and stabilized their business, it’s time to understand how to confidently restart growth engines and maintain momentum with a more informed awareness of potential risks.

Agile methodologies have long been used in software development to boost the productivity of IT teams and have since spread to other functions within organizations. Agile teams operate in sprints, or short bursts of development, implementation and testing. Traditionally, risk and compliance management has moved at a slower pace with longer lead times. In risk, you plan, monitor, wait and then test.

Agile risk management forces control functions to be dynamic. To achieve this, companies need to integrate data from across the business to make informed decisions. What does this mean in practice? It means having the flexibility to scale technology investments to meet the changing needs of your business and the demands of your industry. It also means being able to access solutions that are easy to implement, interconnected and able to deliver fast, efficient, data-driven business intelligence that will help you make the decisions necessary to ensure operational resilience. 

Covid-19 didn’t substantially change the risks companies face. It simply added new ones. What has made this period more stressful is that critical business decisions need to be made faster and assessed and adapted more quickly. This all needs to be done with remote and fragmented workforces due to the pandemic.

Within an agile approach, initial risk assessments can help business leaders prioritize which actions to take and when. Risk functions with technology-supported controls and real-time performance indicators will allow management to move at the pace necessary for business with the assurance that oversight functions are taking place in parallel. However, for an agile, creative GRC strategy to be successful, it must be supported by flexible technologies that offer fast implementations, greater time to value and business intelligence capabilities to help safeguard organizational decisions. Simply put, you can’t get there unless you’ve got the right tools and partner in place.

Companies are currently making tactical choices in haste leading to disconnected investment decisions. A lot of point providers sell you something that hopes to address your organization’s long-term vision for risk management but that is too big and cumbersome to be implemented and executed today to demonstrate strategic value today.

With flexible risk management software packages that are designed help you address current business needs, get up and running quickly, and provide an actionable, connected data ecosystem with real-time insights, SAI Global is here for you as you navigate the essential steps to take today to build a strong and resilient organization. Our geographically dispersed teams utilize a cloud-based architecture model and distributed data center approach so we can offer rapid implementation of responsive solutions that meet your immediate needs and are ready to grow in step with your risk program maturity.

The next economy is now. Innovation and reinvention have to be about speed, fast starts and true time to value. SAI Global ready to partner with you to make rapid and agile decisions about risk.

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