Certainty Blog

How to Use Key Risk Indicators to Manage Risks and Improve Performance

Risk is inevitable in any business, but it can also be a source of opportunity and competitive advantage. You may have tried to use traditional risk management approaches, where each business unit leader is responsible for managing risks within their area of responsibility. But you may have also realized that this initiative has limitations, such as:

  • Risks that fall between the silos and go unnoticed until they become problems
  • Misalignment of risks with organizational objectives and strategy
  • Resistance or reluctance of some people or groups to adopt or use risk management tools and practices

These limitations can prevent you from gaining a holistic and integrated view of your risk profile and taking proactive actions to reduce or eliminate risks that could harm your performance.

That’s why you need to embrace a different way of thinking about risk management: enterprise risk management (ERM). ERM is a systematic process that enables you to monitor and evaluate the level of risk you are exposed to across the entire organization. This process provides you with early warning signals of potential issues that could affect the achievement of your goals. It also helps you align your risk management with your organizational strategy and objectives.

But how do you implement ERM effectively? How do you measure and communicate your risks? How do you use your risks to support your decision-making? This is where Key Risk Indicators come in.

What are Key Risk Indicators (KRIs) and how do they differ from Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?

Key risk indicators (KRIs) are metrics that help you monitor and evaluate the level of risk you are exposed to. Think of it as an early-warning system of potential issues that could affect the achievement of your organizational goals. For example, a KRI for cyber risk could be the number of phishing attempts or malware attacks on your IT systems.

KPIs are metrics that measure the results or outcomes of your activities. They show you how well you are achieving your goals and objectives. For example, a KPI for customer satisfaction could be the Net Promoter Score (NPS) or the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI).

While both KRIs and KPIs are important for measuring and managing your performance, they have different purposes and perspectives. Key risk indicators are predictive in that they focus on what could happen in the future, while KPIs focus on what has already happened. KRIs help you identify and prevent risks, while KPIs help you evaluate and improve results.

To illustrate the difference between KRIs and KPIs, let’s use the analogy of driving a car. KPIs are like the speedometer and the odometer, which tell you how fast and how far you have driven. Key risk indicators are like the fuel gauge and the warning lights, which tell you how much fuel you have left and if there is any problem with your car. Both types of indicators are useful for driving safely and efficiently, but they provide different information and require different actions.

What’s its Importance for Risk Management?

Key risk indicators play a vital role in risk management, as they enable you to:

Identify and assess risks before they become problems

KRIs help you detect early signs of emerging or increasing risks that could affect your organization. By monitoring Key risk indicators regularly, you can identify potential issues and assess their likelihood and impact. This allows you to take preventive or corrective actions before the risks escalate or materialize.

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Track and communicate risks across the organization

KRIs help you measure and report your risks in a consistent and standardized way. By using Key risk indicators, you can track the status and trends of your risks over time and compare them with your risk appetite and tolerance levels. You can also communicate your risks to your stakeholders, such as senior management, board of directors, regulators, auditors, etc., using clear and concise reports or dashboards.

Mitigate and prevent risks from escalating or materializing

KRIs help you manage your risks effectively and efficiently. By using KRIs, you can prioritize your risks and allocate your resources accordingly. You can also use KRIs to trigger actions or responses when certain thresholds or limits are reached or breached. For example, you can use KRIs to activate contingency plans or escalation procedures when a risk level becomes too high or unacceptable.

Align risk management with organizational strategy and objectives

KRIs help you align your risk management with your organizational strategy and objectives. By using KRIs, you can ensure that your risk management supports your strategic goals and priorities. You can also use KRIs to measure and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of your risk management activities and outcomes.

By using KRIs, you can gain a better understanding of your risk trends and risk profile, and take proactive actions to reduce or eliminate risks that could harm your performance.

What are the Different Types of Key Risk Indicators?

There are different types of KRIs depending on the domain or area of risk they cover. Some of the common types are:

Financial KRIs

These assess the risks related to the financial performance and stability of your organization, such as revenue growth, profitability, cash flow, liquidity, solvency, etc. You can use financial KRIs to monitor and manage your financial risks, such as market risk, credit risk, liquidity risk, etc.

For example, a financial KRI could be the return on equity (ROE), which measures your profitability relative to your shareholders’ equity.

Operational KRIs

These monitor the risks in the day-to-day operations of your organization, such as quality, efficiency, productivity, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, safety, etc. You can use operational KRIs to monitor and manage your operational risks, such as process risk, human risk, technology risk, etc.

For example, an operational KRI could be the defect rate, which measures the percentage of defective products or services produced or delivered.

Compliance KRIs

These ensure that your organization adheres to the regulatory requirements and standards that apply to your industry or sector, such as laws, rules, policies, procedures, codes of conduct, etc. You can use compliance KRIs to monitor and manage your compliance risks, such as legal risks, regulatory risks, reputational risks, etc.

For example, a compliance KRI could be the number of violations or fines incurred due to non-compliance with regulations.

Reputational KRIs

These evaluate the risks to the brand reputation and image of your organization, such as public perception, media coverage, social media sentiment, customer loyalty, stakeholder trust, etc. You can use reputational KRIs to monitor and manage your reputational risks, such as ethical risks, social responsibility risks, crisis management risks, etc.

For example, a reputational KRI could be the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which measures the likelihood of your customers recommending your products or services to others.

How to Establish Effective KRIs

To establish effective KRIs for your organization, you need to follow a systematic process that involves:

  1. Identify relevant risks for your organization: Analyze the internal and external factors that could affect your ability to achieve your goals, such as market conditions, customer preferences, competitors, regulations, technology, etc. You need to identify the sources and causes of risks, as well as the potential events and scenarios that could trigger them. You also need to consider the interdependencies and correlations among risks, as well as the opportunities and benefits that could arise from them.
  2. Determine the appropriate metrics and thresholds for KRIs: Select the indicators that best reflect the level and nature of each risk and define the acceptable and unacceptable ranges for each indicator. You need to choose metrics that are relevant, reliable, measurable, timely, and comparable. You also need to set thresholds that are realistic, meaningful, and aligned with your risk appetite and tolerance levels. For example, a KRI for financial risk could be the debt-to-equity ratio, with a threshold of 2:1.
  3. Communicate and report your KRIs: Establish clear roles and responsibilities for collecting, analyzing, and reporting KRIs, and ensuring that the relevant stakeholders are informed and involved in the process. You need to communicate the purpose and value of KRIs, as well as the expectations and requirements for using them. You also need to report your KRIs in a clear, concise, and actionable way, using appropriate formats and channels. For example, a KRI dashboard could be used to display the current status and trends of KRIs.

How to Measure and Monitor Key Risk Indicators

To measure and monitor KRIs effectively, you should start by first selecting the right data sources and tools. Choose reliable and relevant data sources that can provide accurate and timely information on your KRIs. You also need to use appropriate tools and methods to collect, analyze, and visualize your data on KRIs.

For example, you can use a data warehouse to store and integrate data from different sources, such as financial systems, operational systems, customer feedback systems, etc. You can also use business intelligence software to create and display your KRI dashboards, such as Power BI (used in Certainty Software), Tableau, QlikView, etc.

Next, you’ll need to establish regular reporting and review processes. This involves setting and following a schedule for reporting and reviewing your KRIs and ensuring that your reports are clear, concise, and actionable. You also need to involve the right people in the process, such as senior management, the board of directors, risk owners, risk managers, etc.

For example, you can use a monthly KRI report to present your KRI status and trends to your board of directors, and a quarterly KRI review meeting to discuss your KRI issues and actions with your risk committee.

The Challenges in Implementing Key Risk Indicators

Data quality and availability: Poor data quality or availability can undermine the credibility and usefulness of your KRIs, and lead to inaccurate or misleading results. To ensure data quality and availability, you need to establish data governance and management practices, such as defining data standards and policies, validating and cleaning your data, securing and backing up your data, etc.

Ensuring alignment with organizational objectives: Misalignment can result in irrelevant or conflicting KRIs and a waste of resources and efforts. To ensure alignment, you need to involve the top management and key stakeholders in defining and approving your KRIs and link them to your organizational vision, mission, values, and strategy.

Overcoming resistance to change: Resistance can stem from various factors, such as fear of accountability, lack of awareness or understanding, distrust of data or technology, preference for the status quo, etc. To overcome resistance, you need to achieve buy-in by communicating the benefits and value of your KRIs, providing training and support, soliciting feedback and input, and fostering a culture of risk awareness and learning.

How to use Key Risk Indicators

KRIs can support your decision-making and strategic planning by providing relevant and timely information on the current and future risks that affect your organization.

By using KRIs, you can prioritize your specific risks and allocate the necessary resources to mitigate the risk from coming to fruition. This involves using KRIs to identify and rank the most significant or urgent risks that require attention or action and allocating the appropriate resources (such as time, money, people, etc.) to address them.

For example, you can use a KRI dashboard to show the risk exposure and impact of each risk category (such as financial, operational, compliance, and reputational), and help decide which ones need more investment or intervention.

Another commonly used feature of KRIs is their integration into strategic planning and performance evaluation. Here, KRIs are used to inform and guide the development and execution of an organizational strategy and objectives. It also involves using KRIs to measure and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of your risk management activities and outcomes.

For example, you can use a KRI report to show how well you are managing your risks in relation to your strategic goals and targets.

Examples of Key Risk Indicator Implementation

To illustrate how KRIs can be used in practice, here are some examples of how organizations could successfully implement KRIs:

A global bank could use KRIs to monitor its credit risk exposure across different regions and segments. It may use a KRI dashboard to display the credit quality indicators (such as non-performing loans ratio, loan loss provision ratio, etc.) for each region and segment. It could also use a KRI report to highlight the trends and changes in credit risk exposure over time.

By using KRIs, the bank is able to identify and mitigate potential credit losses, improve its risk management processes, and enhance its regulatory compliance.

Another instance is where a multinational manufacturer could use KRIs to track its operational risks in its production facilities. A KRI dashboard would show the operational performance indicators (such as defect rate, cycle time, inventory turnover, etc.) for each facility. A KRI report could also be used to compare and benchmark the operational performance of different facilities. By using KRIs, the manufacturer would be able to identify and resolve operational issues, improve its quality and efficiency, and increase its customer satisfaction.

Finally, a healthcare provider could KRIs to ensure its compliance with the regulatory requirements and standards that apply to its industry. It may use a KRI dashboard to show the compliance indicators (such as the number of violations, fines, audits, etc.) for each department. It also could use a KRI report to monitor and analyze the root causes and impacts of compliance issues. By using KRIs, the healthcare provider would be able to reduce its compliance risks, improve its patient safety and quality of care, and enhance its reputation.

How to Continuously Improve Your Key Risk Indicators

KRIs are not static, but dynamic and evolving. As the business environment and risk landscape change, so should your KRIs. To continuously improve your KRIs, you need to begin by regularly reviewing and updating your KRIs. Begin by checking and verifying the validity and relevance of your existing KRIs, and making adjustments or changes as needed. Also, include adding new KRIs or removing obsolete ones, new risks emerge or old ones disappear. For example, you can use a quarterly KRI review meeting to assess and update your current set of KRIs.

The next step would be to incorporate feedback and insights from your stakeholders. Collect and analyze the feedback and opinions of your various stakeholders, such as management, employees, customers, suppliers, regulators, etc., on the design, implementation, and use of your KRIs and incorporate their suggestions and recommendations into improving your KRIs.

For example, you can use a survey to gather stakeholder feedback on your KRIs, and a workshop to discuss their insights and ideas.

How Certainty Enhances Risk Mitigation

In the ever-changing landscape of enterprise-level businesses, effectively mitigating risks is paramount to ensuring operational excellence and protecting the organization’s reputation. Key Risk Indicators (KRIs) serve as vital tools in identifying and monitoring potential risks. To bolster risk mitigation efforts, enterprise-level businesses can turn to Certainty. Here’s how Certainty can help in mitigating risk:

  1. Streamlined KRI Data Collection and Reporting
  2. Real-time KRI Monitoring and Alerts
  3. Centralized KRI Database
  4. Data Analytics and Insights
  5. Collaboration and Accountability
  6. Scalability and Flexibility

If you’d like to learn more about what Certainty can provide for your risk mitigation management strategy, get in touch with us.

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