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Univ. of California ERM compiles smaller information systems


The University of California's enterprise risk management information system, or ERMIS, is the compilation of numerous smaller risk management information systems woven together like a quilt depicting the colorful story of the university's myriad and diverse risks.

The system, which serves as the hub of the university's enterprise risk management program, automatically assembles data collected from numerous internal sources to create “dashboard” reports that are updated monthly or quarterly, depending on how often the information changes, according to Grace Crickette, chief risk officer and the system's architect.

“At the institution level, it allows us across the organization to quickly identify leakage—not just financial leakage, but inefficiencies, compliance issues, organizational challenges...and helps us determine where to deploy resources,” Ms. Crickette said.

For example, “we can tell the chief human resources officer where there are multiple issues related to the management of people” based on a dashboard report showing high employee turnover rates, she said. “It also tells us here at the Office of the President where we might need to deploy a systemwide program.”

The ERMIS evolved out of the campus visits Ms. Crickette made during the first year after she was hired. Instead of asking campus and medical center risk managers “what keeps you up at night,” she asked them “what information do you need to know whether you are operating efficiently?”

What Ms. Crickette found was that most of them were using systems that tracked certain discrete information, but they were all decentralized and ad hoc, usually requiring manual data entry.

“We asked them to come up with key performance indicators and ended up with over 1,000, which we narrowed down significantly. People describe the same things in different ways,” she said.

After developing the prototype for the ERMIS, Ms. Crickette issued a request for proposal, and the contract for building the system was awarded to Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM Corp. The end product is a fully automated suite of business intelligence tools that “talk to each other” without the need for manual data entry.

The ERMIS also is continuing to grow and evolve as Ms. Crickette discovers other applications being used by university campuses and integrates them into it. For example, a mission continuity tool called Restarting Berkeley, developed by the university's Berkeley campus, recently was incorporated into it. Another tool, called My Manage Risk, developed by University of California at Davis and described as “revolutionary” by Ms. Crickette, will be added this summer.

All of the tools can be found on the Office of Risk Services' website, and UC Davis provides help-desk services. They also are available at no charge to members of the Kuali Community, a collective of universities, colleges, businesses and other organizations that share open-source software.

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