Examples of discrete risk management processes

The whole enterprise (Enterprise Risk Management) A work unit within the organisationA defined business process or system A project, programme, or portfolio A specific proposed change or initiative Security risk Fraud risk Health and safety Business continuity ‘Legal’ risk

What to read first: Discrete risk management processes within an enterprise

For Everyone: This series assumes you have no prior knowledge. It does not use technical terms without explaining them first. Stream supplements are available as drill-downs.

The article Discrete risk management processes within an enterprise said that usual ways of defining a discrete risk management process are

  • to assess and manage risk for a particular area of activity (possibly the total activity of the enterprise), or
  • to assess and manage risk in an enterprise, or perhaps a community, relating to a specific type of risk theme.

This article lists examples of each way to scope a risk management process.


‘Area of activity’ examples

Clusters of enterprise activity attracting a discrete risk management process commonly include:

  • The whole enterprise (Enterprise Risk Management).
  • A work unit within the organisation. Work units can be nested within larger units, representing the management hierarchy. If the organisation contains teams with departments within branches within divisions, there can be team, departmental, branch, and divisional risk management processes with boundaries between them.
  • A defined business process or system.
  • A project, programme, or portfolio. This vocabulary comes from PRINCE2. A programme is a group of related projects, while a portfolio is the whole collection of programmes and projects taking place within an enterprise. I don’t like this spelling of ‘programme’, but it comes from the PRINCE2 source, and the Francophile spelling will alert both of us that the p-word is being used in that special sense. Launch of a new product or expansion into a new market can be risk-managed like a project or programme.
  • A specific proposed change or initiative, such as an enterprise acquisition, implementation of new ICT, or change to a regulation (from the regulator’s point of view). For risk management purposes, a proposed change or initiative can be treated as a project to which resources have not yet been committed.
There are some other potential enterprise activity clusters that may be less helpful for scoping risk management. One that springs to mind is trying to assess (all) the risks separately for each regional office, when there are many regional offices with nearly identical functions and activities. (Sitting in head office and giving each regional office a risk rating is not risk management. It is risk scoring, something I described in the topic ‘What is Risk Management?’—among a list of misconceptions of risk management.)

Theme or ‘type of risk’ examples

Kinds of risk that may attract a discrete risk management process spanning an enterprise include:

  • Security risk. ‘Security’ risk is hard to pin down in words, but everyone knows it when they see it. Security risk management has its own mature methods and standards. In the public sector there may be an external requirement to manage security risk in particular ways, reflecting the community interest in security of public assets, beyond the interests of a single organisation.
  • Fraud risk. In different industries, fraud risks have widely different profiles. To take just two examples, customers might be a fraud threat (insurance), or they might be at risk from fraud (banking). Some important types of fraud risk must be managed closely, even if the enterprise as such is not materially threatened by fraud. For that reason, fraud risk benefits from a discrete risk management process. Where public or community assets are involved, or if the enterprise is a listed company, there may be an externally imposed requirement to approach fraud risk in a particular way regardless of enterprise objectives.
  • Health and safety. There is always an objective to minimise death, injury and disease. This objective is regarded as important, whether or not there is any particular link to enterprise objectives. Assurance of health and safety objectives may be critical to regulators or particular stakeholders, even if the details do not take up much time among top management and board members. Regulators or legal defensibility may require a discrete risk management process for health and safety.
  • Business continuity. Business continuity programs are important for most operations and better practices involve an integrated approach across the whole of an enterprise, possibly even crossing organisation boundaries to involve complete supply chains. The risk management style for business continuity is usefully specialised and simplified to select necessary risk treatments (readiness preparations) with a minimum of dithering and delay. There is likely to be a specialised and discrete risk management process for business continuity.
  • ‘Legal’. I have no clear understanding of the boundaries of a ‘legal’ risk assessment, but I have seen examples maintained by enterprise legal departments.

There may be separate risk management processes for different aspects of a given major theme. For instance, there may be three separate risk assessments for personnel security, physical security, and electronic information security, as very different knowledge bases are involved. ‘Business’ or ‘operational’ risk might also be understood as risk themes, with careful explanations.


Next article for Everyone

Risk ‘to’ an area of activity and risk ‘from’ the activity

There is risk ‘to’ any given activity within an enterprise, and there is risk to the enterprise ‘from’ that same activity. The same applies to theme-based risk.

For Everyone: This series assumes you have no prior knowledge. It does not use technical terms without explaining them first. Stream supplements are available as drill-downs.

Previous article for Everyone

Shapes for discrete risk management processes

A discrete risk management process is generally tied to an area of activity or to a theme.

For Everyone: This series assumes you have no prior knowledge. It does not use technical terms without explaining them first. Stream supplements are available as drill-downs.

Parent articles

Discrete risk management processes within an enterprise

Risk management happens across the whole of any enterprise, whether or not it is formalised and explicit. A risk management process has a scope and objectives. There may be multiple discrete risk management processes across the enterprise. Any discrete risk management process needs to have a definite scope. Discrete and independent risk management processes are the work-horses within formal risk management, even if they are not recognised at all in ISO 31000 or COSO ERM.

For Everyone: This series assumes you have no prior knowledge. It does not use technical terms without explaining them first. Stream supplements are available as drill-downs.

Index to the topic Discrete risk management processes within an enterprise

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *