Over the past 4 years, 3 of the 4 major Risk Management Information System (RMIS) vendors have been acquired by private equity investors. That amount of consolidation, in what was previously a very stable market, really is astounding. What does vendor consolidation mean for RMIS users? And more importantly, what does it mean for you and your team?
The impact of RMIS market consolidation is almost certain to rank low on any risk manager’s list of concerns. There are more critical issues on which to focus—renewals in a commercial property insurance market that continues to harden, adequately evaluating and insuring against cyber risk, taking a more proactive approach to loss prevention, or developing an ERM program, to name just a few.
Those who depend on their RMIS for basics such as consolidating a handful of TPA feeds and reporting on claims data, RMIS mergers and acquisitions may barely register. For risk managers and their team members who use their RMIS on a day-in and day-out basis, the potential effects of consolidation—in particular, the ability or willingness of a RMIS vendor’s owners to invest in improvements in technology and support, rather than preparing for future sale—are worth considering.
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In “Bad Decision Family,” a classic sketch from the 16th season of Saturday Night Live, guest host Tom Hanks, playing the father of the family, joins his wife (Jan Hooks) and children (Julia Sweeney, Mike Myers) at the kitchen table for “leftover night.” Hanks has just retrieved milk from the refrigerator. Upon taking a seat, he drinks directly from the carton. “Oh! Oh, geez!” he cries out in disgust. “How old is that milk? It is really bad!” Hooks asks to see for herself, and reacts similarly after taking a sip. To a mixture of laughter and moans from the live audience, Sweeney and Myers eagerly follow suit. As the sketch continues, each member of the family takes turns joining in on bad decision after bad decision: sniffing a plate of bad fish, sitting on a sharp nail, and testing out a broken staircase to the basement, to name just a few.
The sketch works because it illustrates our tendency as human beings to willingly opt-in for experiences that are guaranteed to be less than optimal. This phenomenon holds true when it comes to the performance of risk management information system (RMIS) software and support.
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Deciding to implement a RMIS system or make a RMIS switch comes with a range of emotions. There’s the excitement of knowing something better is on the horizon. There’s the nervous energy that comes with major change. There may even be dread over the daunting task ahead. After all, you know your current RMIS—warts and all—and a new one takes some time to get used to. But the payoff from getting a new system that’s adaptable to your organization’s specific needs can’t be overstated.
Don’t let the fear of implementation stop you from making a change that will reap benefits for years to come. With a straightforward plan in place that plays to your organization’s strengths, you can slay the implementation dragon—and even enjoy yourself along the way. Such was the case for non-profit professional association New Mexico Counties (NMC), which teamed up with Origami Risk to complete a highly successful implementation.
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A 2016 analysis published in BMJ revealed that medical error is the third-leading cause of death in the United States. This includes process errors, planning errors, and failures to act. Martin Makary, a health policy expert at Johns Hopkins and an author of the analysis, explains that the “complex medical system” in the U.S. “sometimes lacks transparency that results in the wide variation in quality of medical care that is the endemic problem in safety.” Makary also notes that “safety nets are missing and standardization is lacking.”
At the heart of this standardization problem lies outdated technology and confusing systems. Many healthcare providers continue to use lagging systems that don’t efficiently collect or analyze data. Furthermore, a mix of legacy and new systems makes for potential conflicts that add to the confusion and fortify workplace silos. Without the sharing of information, organizations fail to see big-picture strategies and solutions that could help prevent medical errors and increase patient safety.
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Standing atop Mount Everest is an extraordinarily rare feat. Since the first reported ascent in 1953, only 5,000 people have reached the mountain’s 29,029-foot peak. Over the same span of time, nearly 300 have died attempting to do so. And while making it to the top of Everest is tough, having the fortitude to turn back when the summit is within reach can be even more difficult.
The costs of climbing Everest are significant. In addition to spending roughly $100,000 for a single attempt, the time climbers put into planning and training for the venture is typically measured in years. Given these investments of time, energy, and money, many climbers not surprisingly push on in the face of extreme weather, oxygen depletion, and increasingly bleak odds. Unfortunately, the drive to make the investment “pay off” costs some their lives.
In a season 1 episode of the podcast Choiceology with Dan Heath, Michael Roberto of the Harvard Business School refers to this phenomenon as a sunk cost trap. In a sunk cost trap, Roberto explains that the human mind obscures rational thought because of emotional attachments already ‘sunk’ into achieving a goal. We all experience sunk cost traps in our daily lives: holding on too long to a bad investment, staying in a bad relationship, or refusing to walk out of a bad movie on your first night out in months.
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How many members of your current RMIS vendor’s service team have come and gone over the course of your relationship? What about the number of service team leads who have guided support efforts on behalf of you and the other users of your RMIS software?
When you dial into a meeting and get introduced to yet another service team replacement, your RMIS provider is under-delivering.
Many business-to-business software providers place far too much emphasis on “software” and not enough on “service.” In terms of features and functionalities, the results of such an approach may be impressive. But the imbalance comes with a cost. Subpar support is always detrimental to client success.
The importance of consistent, knowledgeable RMIS technology support is difficult to overstate. Given the increasingly complex risks every business faces and the ever-expanding role risk managers play within their organizations, a platform implemented five or more years ago may struggle to keep pace with an organization’s changing needs. A revolving door of service team personnel who need to be brought up to speed on the unique aspects of a RMIS and the risk management program it was put into place to support compounds the problem.
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When choosing a risk management information system (RMIS) or making a RMIS switch, the process of assessing systems sometimes feels like comparing apples to apples. As important as the big functionalities are, organizations would do well to look at the more granular details—details that, however simple they may seem, address their organization’s very specific needs, while also saving time and preventing mental fatigue.
As a Risk Management Monitor article says, “An effective relationship starts with knowing the specific requirements of your enterprise and setting relevant priorities” and then checking how closely your RMIS provider can match them.
Why the little things matter
The workforce today puts in longer hours, more days a week than ever before. But employees aren’t spending all of that time tackling more projects and setting more goals, as one might expect. The 2018 survey Companies Are Overlooking a Primary Area for Growth and Efficiency: Their Managers found that 36% of company managers spend 3 to 4 hours per day on administrative tasks. An employee who spends an hour manually entering data or emailing colleagues about upcoming tasks is using time that could be better spent on more valuable activities like interacting with clients and improving product offerings.
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Is the sky falling? Or is it clearing? Will the new owners be a breath of fresh air? Or will they turn the business upside down? As a risk manager, you’ll likely hear all sorts of messages from peers, providers, and competitors. Following the acquisition of your risk management information system (RMIS) provider, the only message that matters is this: You have options.
It’s easy to feel as if your hands are tied as you seek answers to questions about what a new, combined company means for you and the users of your current RMIS. Asking questions and voicing any concerns regarding the answers you receive is the surest way to proceed prior to extending your contract.
Perhaps the biggest question—and in some cases, the one that is the most difficult to get an answer to—is whether or not you’ll be forced to migrate to the RMIS of the acquiring vendor.
While migration sometimes means you’ll be gaining access to functionality not available in your current system, the reality is that the move may not be as simple, or as straightforward, as promised.
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Selecting the right risk management information system (RMIS) is about more than choosing a set of features and capabilities. You’re also choosing a partner to help you meet your risk management objectives — both now and in the years to come. The aspirational nature of the sales process should only resonate if the team on the other side of the table can demonstrate a long-term record of success.
“That is why it is critical to vet out the potential partner as much as possible during the discovery period as the overarching goal is to produce a mutually beneficial relationship,” writes Michel Koopman in 10 Steps to Forming Long-Lasting Strategic Partnerships. … read more
The pressure to do more with less is constant. But delaying an honest evaluation of your risk management information system (RMIS), while an understandable temptation, can lead to compressed timelines, rushed decisions, cost overruns, and additional grey hair.
Industry consolidation is forcing changes both good and bad. Regardless of whether you elect to stay with your current system or make a move, the worst-case scenario is to find yourself boxed in because you ran out of time.
There are a few critical factors a risk manager should take into account to ensure they are in the driver’s seat. Your time is limited, but your options don’t have to be.
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