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Business Management

Defining the New Art of Risk Management

Risk management in this economy goes well past the usual definitions of safety and compliance.

Mark Lanfear

Risk management in this economy goes well past the usual definitions of safety and compliance. Risk management is often identified in terms of assessment and prioritization of risks from uncertainty, project failures, legal liabilities, and, most of all, accidents.

What seems to be challenging the scientific working world, and what has influence over all these possible factors, however, are the people who execute critical roles—the people who process and manage our projects in a laboratory, those who conduct research and development, and those who oversee manufacturing environments.

Therefore, a risk management strategy as it relates to talent, succession planning, training, professional development, and, most of all, the acquisition of new talented resources is the largest risk to our business being successful.

There is now a well-documented “war for talent” occurring across the globe. Major consulting firms, academic centers, and institutes are identifying the ability to acquire the right resources as one of the largest risks to our businesses at both tactical and strategic levels. Where every company is asking its workforce to do more while being increasingly efficient, the need for expert talent is increasing right along with that demand.

Companies have spent many of their risk mitigation dollars on talent acquisition, talent retention, and development. Categories of talent have been identified and are engaged with differently. Pivotal, strategic, core, creative, and supporting talent are all essential members of an integrated team.

The risk mitigation methodologies regarding the workforce have been raised to such awareness and importance that new techniques for talent acquisition have been developed.

And across the science industry we are seeing the leaders in the technology for talent search, such as Monster and CareerBuilder, invest time and dollars in mapping the migration, as well as the up springing of colonies of talent across the globe. Certain methodologies, like “environmental scans,” have nothing to do with climate change. But what’s heating up is this tool that looks at the framework of the labor market and can balance internal and external factors that affect supply and demand. These scanning tools and business modeling activities are not looking at items from the atmosphere, but are down to specific job categories and roles.

We all execute for customers, either internally or externally. Through the reduction of risk we build up our “customers’” confidence in our ability to do the job, and companies that take up the assumption of risk release the customer from revenuezapping worry. In the science realm two things we know a lot about are cycle time and supplier relationships. If we don’t receive our needed compounds, products, and inert ingredients at all the right times, that can greatly affect our output. If our machinery isn’t calibrated correctly or if our cycle types for reactions are not exact, we lose time, revenue, and output. Take the concepts of cycle time and the supply of talent. What happens when it’s crunch time and the labor force is low? What happens when you’re ready to ramp up for the newest project and everything is ready except for the expertise you need to execute? This is where risk management is at its most critical. Total cycle time as it applies to talent is made up of applicants short-listed, billing rates, duration of assignment, and pivotal and supportive roles, just to name a few.

The application of risk containment methodologies and therefore the responsibilities of risk management professionals have grown greatly as compliance standards and, most of all, economic thresholds have skyrocketed. Now that the war for talent, the pace of change, and the drive for innovation have taken over our scientific industries, an organization’s response to these factors and the mitigation of them are two of the key leading indicators of success. A workforce risk mitigation plan is one that identifies the skills and capabilities needed to execute the organization’s strategy and achieve success.

Risk mitigation used to be about litigation and safety, but now I would challenge that the very core of each of our businesses hinges on strategic workforce planning methodology and talent supply chain modeling. Integration of resources and expertise—not always best in breed, but most tightly orchestrated to the overall business goal—will prepare organizations for possible futures, will mitigate future risk, will improve agility and therefore economics, and will give a company an essential capability for success. Building a competitive advantage requires the right workforce strategy, mitigating the risk associated with talent gaps, and knowing that building a solid labor force is foundational.

Ten million expert workers leave the labor force every day. How is your company responding?

Mark Lanfear is a global practice leader for the life science vertical at Kelly Services, a leader in providing workforce solutions. He has operated clinical trials around the world for almost two decades. In addition, Mark is a featured speaker at many life science industry conferences and a writer for life science periodicals. He can be reached at MARL773@kellyservices. com or 248-244-4361.