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65 Operational Risk Management Questions

65 Operational Risk Management Questions

65 Operational Risk Management Questions




Operational risk management might not be the sexiest topic at the cocktail party, but boy, it’s vital. Whether you’re an enthusiastic startup founder or a seasoned corporate player, understanding and mitigating operational risks can be the difference between a thriving enterprise and a viral “fail” story.


Here’s a comprehensive list of 65 questions that dive deep into the labyrinth of operational risk management. It’s a navigation tool for every business leader, ensuring you cover all bases. So, let’s get this risk-averse show on the road!


Introduction: Why These Questions Matter

Operational risk, in simple terms, is the risk of loss stemming from inadequate or failed internal processes, people, and systems, or from external events. It’s the unanticipated problems that can arise when working toward a company’s strategic goals. These questions are grounded in the belief that a good offense is the best defense. By confronting potential issues head-on, you not only safeguard your company’s future but also work to improve present-day practices.


List: 65 Operational Risk Management Questions



People and Culture

  1. What steps have been taken to ensure core cultural values align with operational practices?
  2. In your organization, are employees encouraged to report risks without fear of reprisal?
  3. How often do you revisit and adjust team policies to match industry best practices and employee feedback?
  4. Have you identified key influencers within the organization to act as champions of operational risk protocols?
  5. Do your employees have access to sufficient training to mitigate operational risk in their day-to-day activities?

Vendor and Supply Chain

  1. Are you confident your vendors and suppliers comply with the same operational standards you set for your internal teams?
  2. How often are vendor contracts reviewed to evaluate risk and ensure alignment with your risk management processes?
  3. What’s the backup plan when a critical supplier fails to deliver, and how often is it updated?
  4. Do you foster a culture of transparency and collaboration with suppliers to address and mitigate risks together?
  5. Have you considered having geographical redundancy for mission-critical supplier locations to avoid geopolitical and environmental risks?

Technological Infrastructure

  1. Is your technology infrastructure regularly assessed for vulnerabilities and compliance with industry standards?
  2. Who has the final say on updating technology, and is it based on risk assessment or budget constraints?
  3. What’s the protocol for testing and implementing new technologies to minimize operational risk during the transition?
  4. How do you stay ahead of the curve in anticipating and mitigating risks in the rapidly changing tech landscape?
  5. What’s your disaster recovery plan in the event of a technology failure, and how often is it tested?

Compliance and Regulation

  1. Are you certain your company adheres to all local and global industry regulations, and how do you confirm that?
  2. What departments are regularly consulted to ensure compliance with regulatory changes?
  3. Do you leverage technology to keep track of compliance deadlines and renewals, reducing human error?
  4. Are all employees trained on regulations pertinent to their roles, and how is this training refreshed and maintained?
  5. How do you manage cross-border requirements and potential conflicts to streamline business operations?

Financial Risk

  1. How often are your company’s financial statements audited, and what percentage of errors are found and corrected?
  2. Is fraud a significant concern in your company, and how are internal controls continually strengthened to fight it?
  3. What’s the protocol for managing financial risks when expanding into new markets or product lines?
  4. Does your company have a clear policy on risk retention versus transferring risk, and is it communicated effectively to all relevant parties?
  5. Are individual departmental budgets assessed for risk as part of the larger financial risk management strategy?

Operational Efficiency

  1. Have you identified which operational risks pose the greatest threats to your goals and profitability, and how do you prioritize them?
  2. How frequently does your company review operational processes and what metrics are used to evaluate efficiency and risk?
  3. Are your managers incentivized to lead their teams in assessing and mitigating operational risks?
  4. What’s the process for streamlining workflows to eliminate operational bottlenecks and decrease risk?
  5. Do you regularly conduct a cost-benefit analysis of operational risk management strategies, ensuring they are not too burdensome or too lax?

Crisis Preparedness

  1. What scenarios are included in your crisis preparedness plans, and how are they communicated to stakeholders?
  2. Do you conduct regular tabletop exercises to rehearse your response to various crisis scenarios?
  3. How is the crisis response plan updated and refined based on lessons learned from past events or from observing others in your industry?
  4. Have you categorized and trained specific response teams for different types of crises?
  5. Is there a consistent communication plan in place to ensure all stakeholders receive timely and accurate information during a crisis?

Brand and Reputation

  1. What steps are in place to monitor and manage threats to your brand and reputation?
  2. How do you ensure that customer expectations align with what your company can realistically deliver, minimizing disappointment and consequent reputation risks?
  3. Are employees empowered to make decisions that protect the company’s reputation, and how is this encouraged and supported?
  4. What’s the process for addressing and correcting misinformation that could damage your brand’s reputation?
  5. Does your company have a public relations strategy in place to respond to reputation threats, and is it regularly updated?

Change Management

  1. Are change management processes embedded into all your operational risk assessments, and if so, how?
  2. What tools and techniques do you use to gauge the readiness and acceptance of change within your organization?
  3. Do you have a method for tracking employee sentiment toward organizational changes and, if so, how is that information leveraged?
  4. How do you ensure that productivity doesn’t suffer in the midst of change, due to both resistance or disproportionately quick transitional periods?
  5. How does your company celebrate successful changes or learn from failures to improve future change implementation strategies?

Strategic Risk

  1. How does your company balance the potential for high returns with the risk of high-profile failure?
  2. Are strategic risks regularly assessed and discussed at the highest levels of the company?
  3. Do you have a strategic risk management plan that includes both ‘hard’ risks, such as lawsuits, and ‘soft’ risks, such as brand perception?
  4. If you’re an international company, how do you manage strategic risks arising from global economic or political fluctuations?
  5. What’s the process for continuously monitoring and evaluating strategic risks as the business environment evolves?

Environmental Impact

  1. How is your organization’s environmental impact considered within operational risk management?
  2. Are there specific roles or teams focused on identifying and mitigating environmental risks?
  3. What’s the protocol for adapting to new environmental regulations, and how are those changes incorporated into risk assessments?
  4. Are technologies or practices that minimize environmental risks actively researched and adopted?
  5. How does your organization deal with environmental emergencies, and how often are these protocols reviewed and tested?

Ethical Considerations

  1. Is the ethical code of your company integrated into operational risk management assessments?
  2. Are there reporting structures in place where employees can sound alarms about potential ethical breaches and risks?
  3. How are ethical considerations measured and weighed in risk assessments alongside more traditional financial and operational risks?
  4. What checks and balances are in place to ensure ethical practices are maintained throughout all levels of the company?
  5. How does the company respond to discovered ethical breaches, and is there a process for self-correction and improvement?

Legal Liabilities

  1. What legal liabilities have been historically present within your industry, and what is your strategy to avoid them?
  2. Is there a legal counsel check for high-risk areas in each operation, and do they have veto power over processes?
  3. Do you have a plan in place for potential litigation, and how is it continually refined based on industry trends and precedents?
  4. What insurance policies are in place to mitigate operational risks, and do they receive regular review to ensure they’re up-to-date and relevant?
  5. How is the legal team effectively integrated into the day-to-day of various operational aspects, ensuring risks are narrowed from the start?




Conclusion: Embracing the Ongoing Dialogue of Risk Management

Answering these operational risk questions isn’t a one-time, checkbox-ticking event. It’s an ongoing dialogue that needs constant reevaluation and a proactive mindset. Each question represents a potential fork in the road. By knowing the territory, and being prepared to navigate it, you can lead your company with confidence, wisdom, and a plan for the unpredictable. While risk will always be part of entrepreneurial life, a prepared mind is your greatest asset. Let’s walk through these questions together to cement a culture of conscious, comprehensive risk management that steers your business towards stable horizons.

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