Very few businesses start out with an enterprise or portfolio approach to robust risk management. It’s something that is designed into risk process improvements over time, or managed as a maturity initiative.
In other words, implementing risk management is often a project, led by the PMO or project management community.
As with all projects, it needs senior level buy in and support to make it truly successful. But how do you get that, when your exec team aren’t showing signs that they want to make the commitment to this new way of working?
Here are 5 ways to build senior management support for your risk process initiatives.
1. Ditch the Manual
Risk management is not one-sized fits all. You can’t pull a risk management package off the shelf and have it work automatically in your business. Your exec team will struggle with a level of admin that doesn’t seem like a good fit and processes won’t naturally dovetail into what your teams already do.
Sometimes the level of change in a business is already considered too significant, especially if your organization is growing quickly or already going through transformative culture change.
Look for ways to show senior management that risk management can fit into existing processes and support current initiatives and that you are prepared to implement it in a pragmatic way. Risk management doesn’t need to disrupt the current ways of working if it’s managed correctly. It should underpin and support wherever possible.
2. Keep Your Budget In Check
However good your risk management proposal, senior management won’t buy into it if they feel it’s not going to be cost effective. There are some expensive options out there: there are also some options that offer far greater value for the investment.
Many times we see businesses who have tried to implement solutions themselves that have ended up with lower levels of buy in and greater cost than if they had committed to a short engagement with risk management experts. Consider drawing on the skills of experienced risk management consultants who can quickly understand your business and give you solutions that are tried-and-tested – and that fit within your budget.
Know what budget constraints you have before you put your proposal together. It will save you a lot of time and give you insights into the kinds of solutions that are likely to be accepted by the Board.
3. Consider Using Experts
This is an uncomfortable truth: sometimes execs listen more intently when an independent third-party is talking.
If you have struggled to get support for your own risk management approaches it might be that it isn’t getting the focus it needs at the exec level. Having an independent voice explain the key drivers for a robust risk management approach might help bump your program to the top of the priority list.
4. Education, Education, Education
You know why risk management is so important at the enterprise level and project level. But do your senior managers? Really?
The more they understand about the process – beyond the exec summary and one-page process document you wrote – the more likely they are going to be to support a risk imitative.
Make sure any communication you do is in their language. Talk about risk opportunities and maximizing benefits. Stress the implications of not doing good risk management. Explain what happens when risk is not considered and how knowing the risk levels across the organization leads to better decision making.
Leave the risk management templates and process flow diagrams for another day.
5. Go Slowly
So your management team isn’t bought into the idea of risk management across the business. OK. At least you know where you stand. Go slowly: introduce key concepts one at a time. There’s no rush to implement everything all in one go. And you can break down the main risk management approaches and risk process. Pick something that you feel would add the most value to where your business is now and go with that. Once that’s bought into and embedded, add the next step. You can build risk management maturity over time. Do this by changing each existing risk process to be a bit more risk aware as you go.
While it’s ideal for risk management to be led from the top, sometimes you just need to get started to show the C-suite what could be achieved. Small wins open the door for larger changes in process and mindset.
Above all, keep sharing the message that risk management is good for the business. It helps managers make better decisions about the projects to do and the opportunities to follow. It mitigates problems by ensuring the portfolio is balanced overall. It’s fine to take risks as long as every project isn’t high risk, if that isn’t right for your firm. It shows investors and shareholders that you are in it for the long term. And that you are managing in a way that sets the company up for long-term success.
When looked at like that, risk management becomes a no-brainer. Try some of these risk process strategies and soon you’ll be talking to a highly engaged senior management team.