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Archer Employee
Archer Employee

In their ongoing effort to clarify the concepts of integrated risk management (IRM) and digital risk management (DRM), Gartner has begun to discuss the interconnection of IRM and DRM with enterprise risk management (ERM).


 Wheeler IRM ERM Image.JPG



I certainly agree with Gartner’s statement in their recent blog: “To keep pace with the increasing risk associated with digital transformation, organizations require an integrated approach to risk management. Not only is it essential to invest in integrated risk management (IRM) technology to enable this approach, it is also imperative to focus on the convergence of technology and operational risk. This convergence represents a key IRM use case called ‘digital risk management.’ Digital risk management (DRM) technology integrates the management of risks of digital business components — such as cloud, mobile, social and big data — and third-party technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, operational technology (OT), and the Internet of Things (IoT). DRM helps bridge the gap between the Chief Risk Officer (CRO), the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).”



While Gartner introduced IRM and DRM concepts some time ago as part of operational risk management, what appears new in Gartner’s most recent IRM discussion is the explicit connection to ERM.  The ascendency of ERM as a business focus is not new.  In 2014, I reported on RIMS declaration that the practice of ERM had reached critical mass. This is borne out by our customers in the financial services industry, of whom 81% stated in a survey conducted last year that they were already using the RSA Archer Suite to support their ERM program!  That’s right, 81% of financial services customers surveyed are already integrating cyber risks with other kinds of operational risks, with their organization’s financial risks and risks to their strategies and objectives.  As RIMS stated in 2013 of ERM, “value is maximized when management sets strategy and objectives to strike an optimal balance between growth and return, goals and related risks, and efficiently and effectively deploys resources in pursuit of the entity’s objectives.”



I think it’s safe to assume, as with most things risk management-related, organizations vary in their approach to ERM.  We know that approaches to risk identification, risk assessment, risk evaluation and treatment, and monitoring all vary, as does the scope and granularity around the use of performance, risk, and control indicators.  And that’s fine. Everyone executes to their own unique risk management roadmap given the objectives of their management team, board of directors, and available human and capital resources.

Yet, the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations (COSO) of the Treadway Commission (remember this is the group that drove the Sarbanes-Oxley Act?) has laid out their goal and roadmap for ERM, as well.  In their 2016 update to the COSO ERM framework, they represented the complex interrelationship between risk profile, performance, and risk appetite in this one graphic:


COSO ERM Public Exposure.JPG

                                          Source: Figure 4.2, COSO ERM Public Exposure Draft, June 2016


I’ll leave a discussion of the relationship of each of these variables and how an organization might go about generating this kind of understanding for themselves in one graphical representation for another time. For now, I think it is enough to consider some of the questions that must be answered to achieve the goal laid out by COSO ERM 2016:

  • How do I come up with a risk appetite statement that consistently encompasses all types of risk?
  • If risk capacity is that level of risk that would put my organization out of business, which risks are those and how do I assess them in a way to compare them to my risk capacity?
  • How do I aggregate all of my risks to generate a risk profile?
  • How do I measure target performance?
  • How do I correlate risk profile to performance, let alone visually depict the relationship?


Please add a comment.  I would love to hear from you and how you think these questions can be answered.