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Training for users key when upgrading risk management technology

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Risk managers use various methods to measure and track their companies' risks, and training on new systems can sometimes be frustrating.

Brent Roeder, director of safety sales at Fastenal Co., a Winona, Wisconsin-based fastener distributor with $3.87 billion in 2015 sales, selected a cloud-based software to replace the Excel spreadsheets his team used to identify and measure risk since some of the company's warehouses had poor or no Internet reception.

He chose Atlanta-based Inspect-All Software L.L.C., which offers a platform that allows Fastenal to import its spreadsheets into an app, also from InspectAll, and access and edit them from a smartphone.

While Mr. Roeder is satisfied with the on-site training that he and his staff received, “there is absolutely a learning curve.” The software provider also connects remotely “to make sure our new people are able to use the basic platform with ease,” he said.

But some risk managers still rely on spreadsheets.

Gloria Brosius, the first corporate risk manager of agricultural distributor Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings L.L.C. in Denver and a board director of the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc., said the company, which has been highly acquisitive and has dozens of U.S. locations, has not reached the point where it needs a risk management information system, so she relies on her broker, Aon P.L.C., for the insurance and uses Excel to track the company's risks.

In her previous job at FCC Services Inc. in Denver, which handles the risk management and captive insurer for Farm Credit, she used the CS Stars L.L.C. RMIS platform and received individualized training to deal with the company's unique exposures.

“We had our own captive insurance company, which made it more complicated,” she said.

On-site training “was very hands-on, and we were their only focus. Overall, the training I received was very good, but every company does things differently, so you need to be able to take the generalized training and work hard to apply it to your own job to make it work for you,” Ms. Brosius said.

Jeff Tennis, Lockton Cos. L.L.C.'s Kansas City, Missouri-based project manager of property analytics, participated in testing a new software by Ann Arbor, Michigan-based insurance analytics firm EigenRisk. They chose EigenRisk's EigenPrism platform because it gave clients more “exposure awareness” with its visual mapping of the client's locations.

“The training and tutorials that the technology provider put together flattened the learning curve,” he said. “You just need to drag the information from Excel into Prism and you can start to quickly pull reports and be up to speed in a few hours,” he said.

However, Leslie Lamb, San Francisco-based director of global risk and resiliency management at networking technology company Cisco Systems Inc., said she would like to find a system that is more suitable for a tech company.

“I wish the systems could be better tailored to what companies really need,” Ms. Lamb said. She said tech companies don't have a lot of claims, “but a retailer would need the details that these systems provide because they have a ton of claims.”

She also found the training experience to be somewhat frustrating. “Setting these systems up if you are not claims people can be very difficult,” she said.

One former risk manager was frustrated enough that he developed his own software tool.

“Ten years ago, it seemed like every industry had Web-based software tools, but it seemed like the insurance and risk industry didn't,” said Craig Rowe, CEO and founder of ClearRisk Inc., St. John's, Newfoundland. As a former RIMS board member, “I could see that I wasn't the only one dealing with this issue, so I went ahead and started ClearRisk.”

For the past seven years, his company has provided webinars and one-on-one training sessions that include live training.

“Internet streaming and software tools are so good now that it is easy to train people in any way that they prefer,” he said.

Risk management software training that requires certification can be more challenging but also more rewarding.

Catastrophe modeler AIR Worldwide holds training sessions in locations around the world that includes the certified catastrophe modeler program.

Part of what brings people to the training is they receive an accreditation that comes with completing the training and passing the exams, said Joe Cleveland, the company's Boston-based education and training manager.

“CCM is a certification that you are fluent in AIR software and have a working knowledge of catastrophe models and methodology,” he said.