Risk Management

Risk Mitigation Alongside Empathy and Action

The pandemic has been an extraordinary test for everybody and once more the issue of risk management is firmly back in the spotlight. In truth it has never gone away. After the financial crisis, businesses learnt to become more aware of the disruptive impact of unforeseen circumstances and to approach risk management in a robust and holistic way.

Putting the building blocks in place

Management teams will be familiar with carrying out risk audits. Scenario modelling can range from a major IT failure to a plant explosion. By understanding and evaluating day-to-day processes, businesses can assess the many risks they face and build appropriate response and mitigation strategies. This requires three key components:

  • Understand the core risks to the business and how they evolve 
  • Establish a suitable structure to manage change
  • Develop a robust communications strategy, incorporating crisis management processes

Effective risk management is not a box-ticking exercise. Processes that drive boiler plate responses or delegate risk management too far down the organization need a rethink, and must take into account the day-to-day risks of operating—particularly in highly regulated environments.

How SDL manages risk

SDL is the intelligent language and content company, operating directly in 39 countries and working with many of the world’s largest businesses—including over 90 of the world’s top brands—to globalize their products, services, corporate communications and brand. We do this through a combination of localization services and leading-edge technology.

For a global business like ours, trusted to handle huge amounts of sensitive information for our customers, risk management and business continuity are a way of life and we have resilient systems and processes in place to manage this risk. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, we responded quickly, and within a week moved our workforce of 4,500 people worldwide to remote working. Our people, in particular our IT teams, demonstrated the employee and customer-focused response that we expected. As a result, we were able to continue operating with no loss of productivity.
 
The impact of COVID-19 highlighted a couple of things, namely how risks elide and escalate, and why organizations need to be prepared, responsive and communicative. As well as our operational response, it was critical for us to engage openly with our customers, investors and employees.

Helping our customers mitigate their risks

Just as we managed our own response, it was critical that SDL was there to support our customers’ new and urgent requirements. These ranged from fast-tracking the approvals of documentation for medical devices and other equipment, to supporting new secure virtualized operating models and, of course, delivering multi-lingual corporate communications at pace. We are proud to have been the trusted supplier that customers expected us to be.

Learning from COVID-19

Looking ahead, undoubtedly, businesses will review their planning and response mechanisms, and risk management will be a priority for investors and regulators. It is always important not to pivot to a certain risk type based on recent events, to be mindful of secondary impacts—including financial ones—and emerging risks, which might include greater technology or cybersecurity risk, or employee well-being impacts.
 
For example, working from home presents another step-change and a way of life for the foreseeable future. Our employees’ mental health is paramount, and greater flexibility along with new ways of operating can support different circumstances, and help achieve a work-life balance.

SDL’s collegiate and customer-focused culture was fundamental to our ability to respond to this crisis. Maintaining and building that culture in the new environment is uppermost in our thoughts. We continue to work closely with clients, employees, suppliers and partners, to optimize our customer experience through our client-centric ways of working. Failing to communicate effectively is truly too great a risk.