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This article was originally published in the
Journal of Aboriginal Management. It has been reproduced with permission.
MNP’s Clinton Griffiths, CPA, CA, CRM, recently discussed strategic planning and risk management for First Nations in an article for the
Journal of Aboriginal Management. Using a case-study approach he offers a step-by-step analysis of how MNP’s process benefitted the Saskatchewan First Nations Family and Community Institute.
In 2016, the Saskatchewan First Nations Family and Community Institute (SFNFCI) began work on a new strategic plan. Titled “Growth Toward Sustainability and Autonomy,” this plan focused on expanding their current operational capabilities over the following five years. But while many organizations become complacent at the end of the strategic planning process, SFNFCI realized theirs was only the starting point for a critical, but often overlooked, opportunity to maximize their chances of success.
In partnership with MNP, SFNFCI decided to embark on an enterprise risk management journey to prioritize the uncertainties that could potentially derail them from achieving their strategic goals. Through the establishment of a risk management program, SFNFCI can confidently make risk informed resource allocations decisions targeted at the areas of greatest need by with the organization.
A strategic plan is a critical step for any organization to communicate their vision and outline a clear process to realize their goals and the tactical steps they will take along the way. Risk planning identifies, evaluates, and prioritizes risks to maximize the chance of success. While often viewed as a separate activity outside of strategic planning, the greatest benefits are often achieved when risk management is embedded directly into existing strategic planning processes. Understanding the risks impacting your organization allows for a better understanding of potential issues before they arise and improves overall business resiliency and effectiveness.
Any organization can make significant progress in identifying, understanding and implementing plans to reduce the risks between them and their strategic objectives in just two days. Here’s how the typical MNP process works:
Working with senior management, we develop the groundwork needed to implement an effective enterprise risk management program. This includes developing a tailored risk profile, risk rating criteria, and risk register to record risk information that will be captured during the two-day session.
Working with board members, senior management and key organizational decision makers, we introduce the concept of risk and how it can affect organizational decision making. The relationship between strategic planning and risk management is covered in depth, along with educating organizations on how to embrace risk as an opportunity rather than a threat.
The focus then shifts to the organization itself to brainstorm scenarios that could potentially prevent the organization from achieving its strategic goals. At this stage, both internal and external risks are considered along with existing plans in place to mitigate the risks identified.
This day involves looking more closely at the risks identified in Day 1. For each risk identified, they are rated based on the likelihood of occurring and the consequences should it occur. Workshop participants use voting software to rate each risk to ensure all participants voices are considered in determining the level of risk to the organization.
For each of the top priority risks – the ones most likely to happen and block achieving the organization’s strategic objectives – risk mitigation plans are established, and accountability assigned to specific individuals within the organization. The organization can now move forward with their tactical goals knowing they have a clear idea of the uncertainties they face and how they are going to manage them.
For the Saskatchewan First Nations Family and Community Institute, the enterprise risk management planning was beneficial on several levels – including highlighting significant opportunities to maintain sustainable funding now and into the future. The analysis helped to reinforce all facets of their new strategic plan and allowed them to offset each strategic objective with clear and prioritized risks that might inhibit progress.
“The risk assessment document is great for our team and board to use as a ‘living’ document that we can revisit to help with decision making and reporting of activities and results,” says SFNFCI’s Executive Director Tischa Mason. “The risk management process was able to facilitate discussions and decisions on making sure the strategic plan could be more achievable.”
More importantly, the process provided a plan going forward to address an ongoing funding concern that jeopardizes SFNFCI’s ability to continue operating altogether. It triggered immediate conversations with their funders and allowed the institute to address the potential risks before they arose, putting them on the path toward long-term sustainability. It also highlighted several governance and policy issues that were not immediately apparent before or during their strategic planning process.
Strategic planning helps organization’s answer the question of “where do we want to go” while risk management provides insights into “what could prevent us from getting there”. By anticipating potential barriers to success, it offers organizations clarity on where their limited resources should be allocated – allowing organizations to achieve their strategic goals with confidence.
Based out of Regina, Clinton Griffiths, CPA, CA, CRM, is a Senior Manager with MNP’s Enterprise Risk Services team. He can be reached at 306.790.7900 or email [email protected]
Client Groups:Indigenous Services
Related Topics:Business Resilience; Management; Operational Effectiveness
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