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Burst the Brexit bubble & move forward with confidence

Burst the Brexit bubble

It’s time to accept that uncertainty is here to stay and burst that Brexit bubble. Organisations need to activate those investment and transformation programmes, but be safe in the knowledge that risk management and assurance are at its core.


Senior Manager, Brexit Assurance Lead, KPMG in the UK

KPMG in the UK


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Whether we like it or not, Brexit has been a vacuum for organisational time and effort. Even a regular review of the politics, takes a spot on the executive agenda which could have been used to focus on productivity & growth. Management attention has been diverted and uncertainty has stalled investment.

This creates a huge challenge if you are a business leader responsible for deciding on and implementing organisational change. Along with all the usual investment risks, businesses are now having to consider how to channel investment and drive transformation, which must succeed in a number of political and economic scenarios; too many to accurately quantify.

So with uncertainty here to stay, how can you be confident in delivering organisational change? A no deal Brexit? A new government? Not forgetting the usual suspects; ongoing technological disruption, ever changing consumer expectations, cyber security… The list goes on.

This new risk landscape raises the bar for effective assurance and giving management the tools to make better decisions. Foregoing change is not an option. Change equals survival. 

So what should you do?

1. Get familiar with your risk management team and processes.

Very simply - have you got the confidence that your business is managing the major risks and has invested where there are big opportunities? I’ve worked with businesses, from UK supermarkets and global pharmaceutical companies to the biggest online travel companies, to respond proactively where the risks or rewards are greatest. Not one has had a robust enough approach to risk management and it’s only now starting to escalate to the boards ‘to tackle’ list.

A robust risk management framework can support investment activation amidst all the uncertainty. Do you have confidence in your organisation’s approach to emerging risk identification and management? What are your principle business risks and what’s your residual exposure? These should be basic questions that can be monitored and managed in real-time!

Boards with access to the right information will make better decisions. The future of risk management includes data driven assessments of customer and organisational data: Smart devices equipped with sensors can detect, in real-time, dynamic risk. Insights based on customer trends can be quickly identified and actioned. And opportunities to personalise and improve service can be brought to the forefront. Such is the importance of the right data.

2. Prioritise your transformation agenda and roadmap

Taking the time to map out your transformation journey is pretty obvious. Flexibility in these plans is important but each programme should fit together to deliver your ‘organisation of the future’. Know what keystone programmes will be delivered over the next 12months – in the throngs of Brexit uncertainty or economic volatility.

Key transformation programmes may become foundations for growth. I’m seeing plenty of plans for digital and data but risk transformation will help support your business and growth for years to come.  

3. Know your information landscape

Data and technology need to be at the heart of any transformation strategy. I have seen first-hand some of the country’s biggest and most revered organisations still struggling with the fundamentals around their ability to collect, store and harness data. If we don’t start addressing these issues now –then I believe there will be a total reshuffle of top tier organisations in this country – replaced by companies currently in their infancy

When you know your information landscape and you have a good idea of your risk flags this can help you take corrective action before encountering large–and costly–problems. 

4. Activate critical change programmes but ensure you have the right support.

Assurance and risk management will be your organisations flashlights, pointing the direction of travel in such poor visibility.

It will also come as no surprise to hear that the majority of change programmes either fail or do not deliver the expected benefits. KPMG research showed that 49% of organisations have experienced programme failure at an average cost of £8million. Plus only 2% of organisations claimed they have achieved targeted benefits all the time. Shocking and the risk landscape has only added to complexity.

The ability to anticipate risks is often difficult when programme teams are embedded in the delivery. Having an integrated assurance plan will give you the confidence in your approach and capability to manage risks. 

Confidence comes through enhanced control and better risk management. So, let’s continue to apply this approach to the important strategic and transformation programmes on your company’s agenda.

It’s time to accept that uncertainty is here to stay and burst the Brexit bubble. Activate those investment and transformation programmes, but be safe in the knowledge that risk management and assurance are at their core. Don’t let your organisation get left behind.

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