In our first blog (How To Design A Best-In Class Issue Management Framework), we introduced our perspective on the challenges banks are facing regarding issues management and some potential solutions. We highlighted several key design considerations such as having a clear issue definition, clear roles and responsibilities, and an integrated process across risk functions. We also noted the benefits of a proactive and effective issue management program.

In this follow up, we focus on the key technology challenges firms face in designing a tool to support their issue management program. Technology design challenges typically include user understanding of the system or workflow, lack of centralized reporting aggregation, and data entry. An outdated or cumbersome issue management platform can slow mitigation, add to communication challenges, and allow small issues to snowball into larger problems.

  1. System Usability and Capabilities: Poor system usability and capabilities, and lack of knowledge and training for end users results in significant manual workarounds and need for expert assistance to complete transactions. If too much information is required to open an issue or the required information is unclear, it can act as a disincentive for users to open issues or can lead to issues not being opened appropriately. This can lead to issues being managed outside of the standard process, or worse, not managed at all
  2. Unsustainable Technology: Inefficient and unsustainable technology development resulting from legacy and closed current architecture. This can limit flexibility to enhance workflow and integrate new sources of data, locking the program into a process that may no longer be fit for purpose
  3. Data Integrity: Data integrity and quality issues resulting from lack of data validation, inconsistent application of manual fields, and lack of understanding of field definitions and entry. This leads to a lack of confidence and trust in end user experience, reporting, and capabilities (i.e. risk assessments, issues, control testing, etc.). It can also result in significant re-work to manually review and correct data errors
  4. Highly Manual Data Capture: Inability to automatically link or suggest what processes, risks, or controls an issue may be tied to based on the user entering the issue. This impairs information capture and can reduce transparency and connectivity into other in-flight issues and action plans. Additionally, inability to link past issues with new events can limit insight into broader problems and create challenges when amending data

A Human Centered Solution is designed not only to mitigate the challenges described above, but to turn technology from a supporting tool into a risk management capability. A custom, Web friendly, portal that integrates with the underlying technical solution for Issues Management can provide users with a more efficient interface to operate with. It can curate views to show the most prominent landing page and facilitate search for issues within and across business groups using specific filter criteria. Specifically, we have identified four recommendations to improve an Issues Management Technology Solution:

  1. User Centric Portal: Create a user centric Portal and established people program where the experience is tailored and customized to the user role and responsibility. A tailored landing page can be used to quickly orient users and show key upcoming tasks, milestones, and workflow progress against action plans. Involve end users in the design to create a more intuitive experience
  2. Integrated Architecture: Integrate and create an open architecture that can scale, and flex based on changing business needs and capabilities in a modular manner (flex to other back end systems in the future). This includes integration with other systems to pull information and link issues across processes and programs. For example, reports may be hosted in different technical backends, but can all be shown in the same page for user access
  3. Data Governance: Simplify and establish an appropriate governance and operating model that could facilitate data quality ownership, accountability, and improved end user experience. Clearly define user personas for data editing access and where possible, link data to ‘golden’ source systems. For example, a process inventory or risk taxonomy should link to issue management, not reside in it. Additionally, create automated controls to verify data is correctly entered when an issue is opened
  4. Learning Integration: Integrate guidance directly into the experience using simplified language to help give infrequent users of the system the ability to capture the right information and meet Legal and Compliance obligations. This includes examples of “What Good Looks Like” as well as definitions of key terms, particularly for items that require manual entry (i.e. issue description). The solution can also be integrated with training resources and policies to provide easy access for users

The four recommendations above can significantly improve the performance of the issue management program. Operationally, an improved solution can:

  • Decrease the number of issue management related help desk tickets by 15-30%. A simpler workflow with clear guidance reduces the number of questions and strain on help desk.
  • Reduce spend on 3rd party costs by 10-30%. Reducing the number of issues by solving for duplicates and false positives reduces remediation costs, including 3rd party spending.
  • Decrease time spent remediating bad data by 10-20%. A system with automated data controls and drop-down entries reduces the risk of data errors and time spent correcting. This frees employees to focus on more valuable work.
  • Reduce workforce time spent generating reports by 10-20%. Automated, self-service reporting reduces the amount of time to prepare and share reports. This again frees employees to focus on more valuable work, analyzing trends instead of just reporting numbers.

More advanced solutions, such as using AI/ML to suggest similar past issues and resolutions, can also be used for pro-active insights and assist risk managers to create more effective remediation strategies.

When thinking about a Human Centered Solution, it is important to assess the current state challenges, appetite for change, and delivery options for build vs buy. Additionally, a new technology may need to be accompanied by a new process for the workflow, reporting designs, data dictionary, and training materials. As detailed in our prior post, a well-designed process and supporting technology can reduce false positive issues, improve mitigation times, and promote accountability for closing gaps.

An effective supporting technology is a critical component to an effective Issues Management program. To find out more on the topic or how Accenture can help in your Issues Management Journey, please contact the authors.

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