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Why Risk-Informed Decision-Making Matters and How to Get Started

Posted on May 31, 2019

60 gallons of water cascading down on your server cabinet is hardly an ideal situation. But if you have a waterline running above your server room, and a valve gives out, it can happen. We know. It happened to a business we work with now.

To identify risks, like inconveniently located waterlines and servers, you need risk-informed decision-making.

What is Risk-Informed Decision-Making?

Risk-informed decision-making maximizes your IT spend by using data analysis to help you determine what your IT strategy should be and where to spend your valuable time, people, and money.

Security is an element but not the only element. Insurance, network, systems, hardware, servers, environmental, and policy considerations are built into the framework.

For instance, your business could be frequently knocked offline because car accidents continually damage roadside communication equipment or rodents persist on chewing through wiring. Either way, you’re prevented from working because you can’t access the internet or make phone calls. It is a risk to your business, and you need to decide if, when, and how to address it.

Risk-informed decision-making is a comprehensive, data-driven review of your entire operating environment. Getting started doesn’t require an entire department devoted to risk mitigation.

How to Get Started: 3 Steps to Implementing Risk-Informed Decision-Making

1. Conduct an Assessment

Your first step is to use an assessment tool like our IT Risk Assessment. It includes instructions and more than 50 pre-defined risks. We wrote it specifically for you to assess your organization. After completing the assessment, you’ll have a list of recommendations.

2. Research and Develop Recommendations

Using the recommendations from the assessment in step 1 you’ll outline what needs to be done to mitigate the risk. For each risk define what addressing it will cost in terms of time, effort, and money. Then have a discussion about the risks and the recommendations with stakeholders.

3. Develop an Annual Strategic Plan

At the end of your conversation in step 2 create action items and add agreed upon recommendations to your annual strategic plan.

6 Benefits of Risk-Informed Decision-Making

If you wanted to win a game of darts, you wouldn’t play with a blindfold over your eyes. But that’s where you find yourself without a  comprehensive view of your risks. When you use risk-informed decision-making you see a clear path to your business goals.

Here’s what it does for your business.

1. Exposes Unexpected Issues

In our experience, the assessment highlights unanticipated vulnerabilities, like a waterline above your servers. Had a risk assessment occurred before the incident occurred, the issue would have been discovered.

Risk-informed decision-making provides you with a comprehensive overview and a new perspective.

2. Facilitates Conversations

IT Risk assessments can be used as a framework for discussion during meetings you have with executives, boards of directors, or other leaders. It provides a data-driven approach and concentrates attention on key issues. From there, you can discuss the time and money you’d need to invest.

3. Creates Clarity for Decision-Makers

After discussing the risk and resources, you can establish and prioritize action items. Your organization gains clarity about budgets, priorities, and responsibilities.

Should the issue surface at a later date, you’ll have a record of why you did, or did not act. You’ll know how you reached your conclusion and what, if anything, you need to do differently in the future.

4. Presents Simple Solutions

Not all high priority items require significant investments to fix. Many large problems are addressed quickly and with little effort by changing a policy or implementing restrictions.

5. Acts as a Tool for Meeting Compliance

To meet compliance in regulated industries you may need to document a variety of practices – like how data is kept secure or the systems the organization uses. Risk assessments tailored to specific requirements, like HIPPA or PCI, ensure each point is addressed and that you are prepared for an audit.

6. Prevents Distractions

It’s easy to be distracted by shiny new technologies demoed at industry events, incidents you hear about in the news, or what your peers are doing – even if the actions and products are not relevant to your business. Since risk-informed decision-making looks across your entire environment and uses data analysis to prioritize investment, it keeps your business on the right track.

How itSynergy Can Help

Our interactive risk assessment covers the most common threats, but we can work with you to customize the tool based on your specific concerns. If you don’t have the internal resources or bandwidth to conduct a comprehensive assessment, our technology experts can assist your organization by working directly with your team to thoroughly score each risk.

During the recommendation phase, we serve as an objective third party. After the key risks have been identified, we discuss next steps you can take and the resources required to address the concerns. It is a continual process, and we ensure your IT strategy and risk assessment stay in sync and up-to-date.

Ready to get started? Contact itSynergy today at 602-297-2400 or online.


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