Organizations talk about the importance of collaboration, communication and information-sharing, but the Silo Effect remains a very real challenge— and it affects everything, including a company’s workflow and ability to manage risk. You’ll recognize it in duplicated efforts, inefficiencies, workarounds, and departments that focus narrowly on their own efforts without examining how they’re a part of the big picture. The Silo Effect creeps in when individual employees or groups either don’t or can’t effectively share information, communicate, or work together.
The pandemic hasn’t necessarily helped this issue, either. A 2021 Harvard Business School study of 360 billion emails from thousands of organizations globally, suggested remote work often increased siloing between teams. As an example, once the work-at-home order went into effect in 2020, Microsoft employees witnessed greater siloing in their scheduled meetings, email communications, and Teams messages, though more communications did occur within the teams themselves.
Fortunately, there are technological solutions available to help break down silo walls and bridge them, creating an environment of greater interconnectivity, more effective processes, and, ultimately, collective innovation. With greater confluence, businesses have new opportunities for increased accuracy, productivity, and more powerful risk control, and all that contributes to the bottom line.
Breaking Down the Spreadsheet Silo
While there will always be occasions where a handy Excel spreadsheet does just the trick, in today’s collaborative workplace, spreadsheets can be the source of some pretty big siloing issues. For risk managers, property, claims, legal information, or insurance policy data may be collected into these documents, and passed around between stakeholders for updates and verifications, creating version control problems and lengthy email trails. All of this untracked back-and-forth reduces overall workflow efficiency and the accuracy of the data itself.
Of course, you can house these spreadsheets in a Cloud system and, while that does reduce the document transfer challenges, it still doesn’t retain a history of updates that can be referenced later. Use a spreadsheet over several years, and you’re likely to no longer know what data was changed, why, and when.
What’s more, the data doesn’t connect to any other active systems. So your claims system isn’t going to link to the insurance policy information in that spreadsheet. This means more detective work for you and a greater chance of missing the information you really need.
By breaking from spreadsheets and shifting to a more robust permissions-based risk management software system, you can expand and unify the data you collect and track, streamline workflow, and improve overall data quality and insights.
Cracking Open System Silos
Another information-sharing challenge is found among software system silos, where different yet related functions within an organization operate in their own bubble due to technical incompatibilities and lack of integration. Many operational software systems in an organization are implemented by need and grow organically over time. They were not necessarily selected or built to connect to other data-driven systems in the organization, and they’re chosen with very specific needs in mind for that particular department and its available budget.
While they may improve accessibility to collaborators within an individual department, without organization-wide interconnectivity and a big picture view, these systems don’t improve the outcome of a full operational workflow. As a result, critical support documents for claims, legal, property, HR and other functions, that may be attached to siloed document libraries, aren’t necessarily accessible to other departments who may benefit from them. In some ways, it becomes the spreadsheet problem all over again. Data is duplicated, housed and tracked in various ways in each siloed system, with no one system standing as an authority on what’s the most current and relevant information.
Without that full information, organizations can’t make their best decisions. And risk exposures and losses can’t be properly analyzed or reduced. It’s all because they’re only each seeing a few pieces of a much bigger puzzle.
How a Robust RMIS Can Build Synergy and Accuracy Across Silos
Fortunately, for those in the risk management industry, a robust Risk Management Information System (RMIS) can help break down and bridge information silos. An effective RMIS is designed to give different siloed groups the workflow functionality and information they need, while offering a big picture viewpoint that helps users across the platform make better decisions and mitigate risk.
That big picture can be found in permissions-based dashboards, that give specific user profiles the types of information they need in helpful, quick and understandable ways.
It can be found in richer, more flexible and configurable reporting, where users with the right permissions can choose to report on all related data fields available to them in the system — not just the ones associated with a specific silo. Better yet, this reporting can be shared automatically by day, week, month, quarter and more, so the information always reaches the key players who need it.
It means document libraries of attachments are available so users always reference the most current versions of the same documents across the RMIS.
And it means streamlined workflows with alerts, approval processes and tracking, to transform manual processes into efficient, more automated ones.
Plus, it provides users with a complete, auditable history, giving multiple people access to the same information while ensuring data integrity. With this set of checks and balances in place, a sophisticated solution can reduce errors, organize and maintain data, increasing communication, fostering more streamlined processes and better innovations along the way.
Best of all, the right RMIS can integrate with your existing systems without extensive, cost- and time-consuming development. With configurable modules and specific integration solutions, a flexible RMIS can open up doors to your silos with minimal development time required.
Say “So Long, Silo Effect!”
Better communication and integration across your work is attainable. To learn more about how Centurisk’s RMIS can help your organization bid adieu to the silo struggles, click here.