Gauteng Business News

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RISK MANAGEMENT: Automated Risk Management Arrives in South Africa


Recent Gauteng Business News

When risk managers lie awake at night sweating both the small and the big stuff many have fantasised about having an interactive dashboard of risks, reflecting all risks in real time, everywhere in the world as they evolve – while providing ready solutions to each crisis.

Despite the sci-fi nature of these musing this is exactly what Marsh has managed to produce. CS STARS, a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh, has evolved the STARS Enterprise platform from an automated claims handling system into a business-wide, predictive, risk intelligence, management and delivery tool” says Louisa de Freitas Sales Director, CS STARS, EMEA, Marsh (Pty) Ltd.

In short, for risk managers the future has, literally, arrived.

Risk in any modern business is constantly shifting - with the business, with global events and across geographies. Risk is also varied, ranging from the very simple to the hugely sophisticated. Recognising this, the “STARS Enterprise, risk, claims and compliance management system can have as few or as many functions as a business requires” explains de Freitas.

At the most simple level STARS Enterprise can act as an online risk management system, allowing businesses to track incidents, risks, claims, policies and conduct compliance audits depending on the nature of the business and its need to input and track risk trends.

A slightly more sophisticated use allows companies, for example, to record incidents relating to safety, health or environment and quality – in real time, “allowing businesses to follow and support post incident care, response or rehabilitation in line with company risk policy or legislation” says de Freitas.

This function can also be adapted to keep records of incidents of theft, fraud, bribery or corruption. Accumulated and viewed over time, such data can reveal patterns of loss, highlighting higher than usual areas of risk - informing risk mitigation interventions with significant cost management benefits. Some companies use STARS Enterprise to “respond to certain data by recommending particular interventions, such as; fix the stairs, train Joe Smith in level two safety procedure, or take out professional indemnity cover for our underwriting department” explains de Freitas. The system also enables workflow by sending email reminders to responsible persons to ensure that timely action is taken to mitigate risks - reducing the total cost of risk.

STARS Enterprise detailed data analysis functionality not only identifies areas of higher risk, for example, but it can also use this data to allocate premiums, automatically “directing companies’ risk mitigation efforts to exactly those areas with the highest risk and highest potential for loss – preventing money being wasted on blanket covering of low risk areas” says de Freitas.

Furthermore, when it comes to renewals, STARS Enterprise facilitates values and new data collection automatically online, “saving person hours, avoiding duplication and eliminating error” adds de Freitas.

STARS Enterprise is also able to assist with certificate management. This is particularly important for construction companies which often, half way through a project, find themselves uninsured as their annually issued certificates have not been renewed. Having policies, certificates, photographs, incident records and all other required documentation automatically updated and stored within STARS Enterprise cuts the cost and losses suffered by companies falling foul of legislative procedures – especially when operating over multiple geographies and different legislations.

Automatic audits and assessments for health and safety, fire systems, security etc., helps internal auditors ask the correct questions and check all the correct details. STARS Enterprise even plans an iPad application (for release August 2012) that will allow users to do audits offline and then upload this data to the STARS Enterprise system when they get to an office. All data will be electronically analysed and automatic reports generated.

Since STARS Enterprise is modular and fully configurable it can be bought in pieces as and when a business requires – and then programmed to the specific needs, risks and deliverables of the business. That said, having STARS Enterprise operate across the whole business allows business-wide comparison, data analysis and reporting. After all, “business-wide dashboards are the dream of all Risk managers” says de Freitas.

Remaining on the dream theme, reporting is probably STARS Enterprise’s biggest dream deliverable. Most businesses have mainframe systems - and then use business intelligence teams to mine data for different purposes. STARS Enterprise eliminates the needs for business intelligence teams. Instead, “business intelligence tools are built into the system which allows users to generate reports by simply dragging and dropping data categories together with standard reports being generated and emailed to users automatically” explains de Freitas.

Advanced reporting capacity also allows the STARS Enterprise risk dashboard to publish different data profiles to different users. So, “when a user logs on, the security filter can be linked to the specific data that only that user needs to see – allowing individual users to produce reports specific to their area and deliverables, critical in timely decision making and effective risk management ” describes de Freitas.

Allied to the reporting function is the ability to “benchmark company claims data against other similar companies to check whether losses or any claims related data compares with industry or practice norms” says de Freitas.

For example, in the United States CS Stars currently have 14 million claims from 500 different organisations on its STARS Enterprise global claims system. Being able to benchmark your claims against a data base of this magnitude “is invaluable in rating and developing efficiencies in one’s own claims and settlement system” adds de Freitas.

A feature particularly attractive to global companies is STARS Enterprise Risk Goggles application. This is an interactive map of the globe, updated in real time as risk incidents occur. Things like earthquakes and other severe weather related incidents are constantly updated on the map. Depending on the particular risks that a business faces “you can plot your operations around the world on this map and, instantly, be alerted to different weather threats in different countries” explains de Freitas.

In time de Freitas expects to be able to add specific country risks, be they political, legislative, infrastructural, health or other, making the tool even more useful to a wider range of businesses – and allowing preventative and pro-active planning “ahead of establishing operations, rather than reactive planning after a problem has been experienced” adds de Freitas.

Since the system can be as simple or as sophisticated as a business’s risk might be, and the applications endless, functionalities can be mixed and matched to client need to develop whatever dashboard they require.

For example, De Freitas is currently working with property developers and real estate companies to add property values and property-specific risks by area or geography. This is invaluable in enabling STARS Enterprise to accurately identify and manage risks in the real estate industry.

Another application is the integration of hospital management data processes into CS STARS. Recording health and trauma incidents, staff responses and medical treatment details can produce reports that identify, predict and eliminate risks, drive rational planning and cuts costs – all at the push of a button. While each hospital will have different systems and hence different programmes for CS STARS the system is completely configurable regardless of the data it needs to capture, collate or report.

CS STARS adds huge value to insurers, risk managers, health and safety managers, environmental auditors, business planners or any other business function and will, in time, “become an indispensible tool to all ERM managers and the boards they report to” predicts de Freitas.

While there is an ever-growing handful of companies that use the STARS Enterprise system in South Africa, “we’re yet to reach the volumes of the United States, Europe and Australia, important in providing the benchmarking capacity locally that other users have abroad” observes de Freitas.

That said, “a dashboard for viewing, managing and even predicting risk at the overall level down to the granularity of individual incidents has become a reality and we expect it to catch on fast in South Africa and the rest of the continent” concludes de Freitas.

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