Audit Commission increases London Borough of Ealing’s Risk Ranking from point 2 (risk defined) to point 4 (risk managed)
Read on to learn how The London Borough of Ealing improved its risk ranking. The London Borough of Ealing is made up of seven main areas: Acton, Ealing, Greenford, Hanwell, Northolt, Perivale and Southall. Located in West London, Ealing has a rich cultural history. Home to around 310,000 residents and 13,365 businesses, Ealing is London’s third largest borough.
Back in 2006 the authority realised that it needed to improve the way in which it managed risk. Already having an existing partnership with JCAD it decided, after investigation of the market, to invest in JCAD’s risk management solution. The implementation went smoothly but with no overall project owner the Council took the decision in 2007 to appoint a full time Risk Co-ordination Manager. Naresh Chenani was appointed to this role and is a product of the Council’s accredited management development program. Naresh was given the responsibility of putting in place a dynamic action plan to push risk management up the corporate agenda and to ensure that became central to the decision making process.
Reporting to the Head of Audit & Investigation, Naresh set about creating the necessary strategies to further embed risk management at the authority.
The two key areas of focus were increasing the use of risk information within management reporting and secondly to integrate the same information into business processes. Strategies included;
- The Decision Making Toolkit – Cabinet reports now include a risk management section.
- Creation of Strategic Risk Register. This strategic register has now become a key item on the Executive Board agenda which is reviewed quarterly.
- ‘JCAD RISK provides effortless, real time access to risk information, making management review and intervention simple’ Naresh Chenani Risk Co-ordination Manager.
- Greater input from Audit who have access to JCAD and have used the risk registers to,
- Develop an audit plan that is more risk based in focus using the output from strategic and operational risk registers.
- Audit the risk management process by reviewing the risk registers and testing the effectiveness of the controls identified.
- Directorate Buy in – As has often been proved, it is only with senior management support that risk management really takes a foothold.
Naresh conducted awareness sessions to raise the profile and stress the importance of robust risk management. This was also supplemented by the roll out of an e-learning module which is aligned with JCAD RISK.
Alongside the above strategies Naresh pushed ahead with the roll out of the JCAD RISK application. This enabled staff to actively participate in the process of risk management as the software was made available over the Council’s Intranet. Naresh confirms the importance of the JCAD solution.
‘Previously much time was wasted on the mundane process of capture, storage, collation and access of risk data. JCAD provide a solid and reliable technology solution that allows us to focus upon the important risk management issues and easily share this information across the organisation’.
Alongside finance and performance risk was aligned to financial, business and performance management processes. This saw Naresh undertake 20 ‘Risk Clinics’ with Service Heads and Directors to refresh Corporate and Service risk registers. Once the risk information was collated the risk register were updated by departmental risk champions using RISK. Corporate Risk Management Forum. This has been rejuvenated and now incorporates input from designated risk champions from each directorate. The inclusivity of this approach ensures a more strategic approach is taken which ultimately feeds the delivery of the overarching risk management plan.
A year on and risk management has now become an essential part of the Authority’s business and the framework is now fit for purpose. Senior management and members now have a corporate ‘window’ on the key risks threatening the delivery of strategic objectives, ensuring they are being managed and mitigated. In the same way, the new departmental risk champions are also able to keep abreast of risk management developments and drive improvements locally.
The Audit Commission in its last report noted, ‘The Council is good at securing value for money, and its financial standing is excellent. Leadership, business planning and prioritisation are good’. The Council also saw an improvement in its Risk maturity rating which moved from point 2 (risk defined) to point 4 (risk managed).
Already recognised as a success internally, Ealing Council and Naresh have also been recognised by their peers. At the 2009 Strategic Risk Awards in Berlin, Ealing were Highly Commended for their Risk Management Approach and Naresh was awarded with the Young Achiever Prize. Risk management is now at the heart of the decision making process and JCAD has been instrumental in improving the reporting of risk management information.