Top Risks for Operations Teams

October 20, 2023 · READ

Operations teams play a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth functioning of any organization. However, they also grapple with a multitude of risks that can disrupt operations, impact financial stability, and erode customer trust. From supply chain vulnerabilities and security threats to regulatory compliance challenges and natural disasters, operations teams face a complex array of potential hazards.

Take a look at the top four risks for operations teams in their day-to-day activities, including insights into the strategies and best practices that can help mitigate these risks and maintain business continuity.

1. Measuring data points

While no one data point will serve as a single metric revealing if you’re succeeding or not, tracking data – and responding to the information you learn – is critical to organizational viability.

What makes a good metric? Does your current measurement system align with your organization’s goals? Do you know how to develop and test a measurement system from scratch? It’s important to first decide what you want to measure and why. Then use dashboards and other visuals from your risk management software to help your executive team understand the reality you have just measured.

Considering the significance of data-driven decision-making, operations teams are increasingly reliant on the collection and analysis of data points to guide their activities. While data can be a powerful asset, it also poses significant risks when not managed meticulously. Measuring data points accurately, comprehensively, and consistently is one of the most critical risks for operations teams, and it is fraught with potential pitfalls.

Balancing the need for data-driven insights with the potential pitfalls of inaccurate or insecure data is a perpetual challenge for operations teams. To effectively address these risks for operations teams, ensure that the measurement of data points serves as a valuable asset rather than a potential liability in the pursuit of operational excellence.

Also read: Navigating the Current Regulatory Landscape: Top 5 Challenges for Compliance Teams

2. Processing change readiness

Change is inevitable in every organization. Operations teams play a crucial role in adapting to these changes and ensuring the continuity of essential processes. One of the most significant risks for operations teams is the ability to process change readiness effectively. Change readiness refers to an organization’s capacity to adapt to new circumstances, whether they arise from internal initiatives or external forces

The risks for operations teams associated with change readiness lie in underestimating its complexity. Many organizations tend to view it as a straightforward task, assuming that teams will naturally adapt to new processes, technologies, or strategies. In reality, it often involves extensive planning, training, and communication to ensure a smooth transition. Failing to recognize this complexity can lead to resistance from employees, decreased productivity, and missed opportunities for improvement.

Resistance to change, a common human reaction, is yet another significant risk for operations teams. Some team members may feel threatened by changes in their roles or processes, leading to a lack of enthusiasm and cooperation. This can impede the successful implementation of new initiatives, delaying the realization of desired outcomes.

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3. Operational excellence

While operational excellence is a coveted goal for most organizations, paradoxically, it is also one of the most significant risks for operations teams. Achieving and sustaining operational excellence is a multifaceted challenge that demands unwavering attention and meticulous execution.

One inherent challenge in pursuing operational excellence is the potential for over-optimization. In an attempt to increase efficiency and productivity, operations teams may streamline processes to such an extent that they become rigid and inflexible. This can stifle innovation, hinder adaptability, and make the organization vulnerable to disruptions in a rapidly changing risk environment.

Another key risk for operations teams is exacerbated by its dynamic nature. What constitutes operational excellence today may not hold in the face of evolving technologies, market dynamics, or global events. Operations teams must adapt continuously to remain at the forefront, and a failure to do so can jeopardize an organization’s competitive edge.

Good operational risk management means building a skilled, organization-wide operations team and then resourcing and empowering that team in a way that fosters organizational excellence.

4. Not separating duties

The “separation of duties” (SoD) concept refers to the policies designed in risk management and internal controls that involve dividing tasks and responsibilities among team members to prevent conflicts of interest, errors, and fraudulent activities. When this principle is overlooked or inadequately applied, operations teams expose themselves to a range of serious risks.

One of the most significant risks for operations teams with neglecting the separation of duties is the potential for fraud and misconduct. When a single individual or a small group of individuals hold too much power and control over critical processes or assets, it creates an environment ripe for fraudulent activities. Without adequate checks and balances, unethical or fraudulent behavior can occur unnoticed, leading to financial losses and damage to an organization’s reputation.

This might mean having two or more employees open the mail, splitting up accounting processes between departments, and dividing asset management from paying expenses. Typically, an internal auditor makes sure this process is working. Separation of duties offers several advantages, including internal controls, fraud detection, and preventing asset misappropriation.

When companies fail to segregate duties, they place themselves and their staff members at enormous risk up to and including criminal investigation, which adds to the risks for operations teams. Many regulatory bodies and standards, such as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), require organizations to implement SoD controls to ensure the integrity of financial reporting and data security. Failure to comply with these requirements can lead to hefty fines, legal repercussions, and reputational damage.

Mitigate risks for operations teams with Resolver

Operations teams play a pivotal role in organizational success. Managing their risks allows companies to ensure that their corporate infrastructure is strong. Resolver’s Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) software helps companies ensure that they are accurately capturing, monitoring, and controlling their risks.

By providing a centralized platform for risk assessment, automated monitoring, and customizable reporting, Resolver’s ERM software empowers operations teams to proactively identify and mitigate potential threats. With features such as real-time alerts, compliance management tools, and scenario analysis capabilities, operations teams can make informed decisions, enhance collaboration, and ensure business continuity. Our ERM solution streamlines risk management processes, enabling operations teams to navigate complexities effectively and maintain operational resilience.

Discover how Resolver’s ERM software can empower your operations team to proactively mitigate risks and enhance efficiency. Watch our product showcase now to see it in action!

This content was originally published on March 13, 2019
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