Tools and Techniques

As its ERM program has developed and evolved, UW has learned from its experience and is positioned to share information not only internally, but with others in higher education as well. The university has developed a comprehensive Enterprise Risk Management Toolkit, copyrighted in 2007, with the second edition released in 2010. The second edition includes an expanded section on the ERM process and has new material on evaluating opportunities. It is comprised of a manual and a set of spreadsheets that provides a framework for assessing and understanding institutional risks. The UW allows access to the Toolkit for UW staff, faculty, and students, federal agencies, Washington State agencies, and other institutions of higher education at no charge through the UW Center for Commercialization Express Licensing Program.

As is typical with most universities, the tools utilized by UW for conducting the risk assessment process are Microsoft Office products. Excel is used to catalog risk assessment inventories and Word for report writing. While the administrators have explored many options for software to aid in the process (and to potentially provide outcomes such as dashboards), they find that, having been developed in the corporate for-profit environment, none of those options are particularly suited to capturing the needs of the higher education environment. They note, however, that at the unit level, many departments are investing in unit-specific software to aid in their data management. For example, the Finance and Budgeting Office is investigating software to run stress tests and financial simulations, and the Human Resources Office is examining payroll software. This allows the units to be able to more quickly evaluate risk specific to their areas, but UW finds that its ability to aggregate risks for examination at the entity level can be accomplished effectively with its low-tech process.

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