Plante Moran: Making Risk Management a Proactive Endeavor

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Dennis Bagley, Partner & Information Technology Consulting Leader; and Sean McBride, Partner & Business Analytics Leader; and Raj Patel, Partner & Cybersecurity Consulting Practice Leader; and Doug Farmer, Partner & Risk Management Practice Leader April 14th, 1912: The RMS Titanic struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage, and three hours later, the ‘unsinkable’ ship slammed into the ocean floor almost 4,000 meters below.

More than a century has passed by since the Titanic sank, and yet it continues to be the event that throws light on the correlation between various small risk management failures and how that can lead to massive disasters. For instance, as per one of the theories, the absence of binoculars on the observation deck made it difficult for the crew to spot the iceberg until it was too late.

The takeaway? If businesses are to avoid a similar fate while navigating the ‘ocean of uncertainties,’ they need to enhance their risk forecasting and management capabilities. The present COVID-19 situation is a case in point. The pandemic is changing dozens of business attitudes, practices, and standards overnight, thereby making the threat management landscape even murkier. “With the recent work-from-home culture, we are seeing different challenges coming to the forefront,” comments Dennis Bagley, Plante Moran partner and IT consulting practice leader.

The key is to be ready for any disruptive event. The rise of computing and data analysis has brought the ability to “see the future” and adjust the business continuity strategy proactively rather than waiting for a problem to occur. Bagley underscores, “Achieving resiliency starts with forward-thinking, risk management strategies spanning every aspect of an organization—protecting people, assets, data, and operations.” Notably, this is what Bagley and his team at Plante Moran excel at. Plante Moran helps businesses adopt appropriate risk management strategies and utilize those for efficient risk analyses. Each member of Plante Moran’s leadership team brings their proficiency in data analysis and the overall risk management landscape necessary to effectively implement threat analytics, thereby adding sustainable, repeatable, and incremental value to businesses.

Mitigating Pre- and Post-COVID-19 Enterprise Risks

What sets Plante Moran apart is its goal-oriented advice and recommendations that help its clients stay abreast of the complex world of cyber threats. Plante Moran helps organizations migrate from the old-school, reactive approach to the modern practice of predicting, forecasting, and anticipating emerging risks to negate the impacts. Today, organizations are increasingly leveraging Plante Moran’s expertise to revamp their business models and leapfrog ahead of the competition.

This proactive approach to risk management has now become more significant amid the COVID-19 pandemic, where Plante Moran is empowering clients to secure their business processes by increasing safety protocols and mitigating the challenges involved in working from home. Moreover, Bagley notes that the coronavirus pandemic is not only introducing new organizational processes; it is also raising awareness about several critical aspects, including but not limited to business continuity, cybersecurity, financial, operational, and legal concerns.
“And consequently, there is a multitude of crucial success factors to consider,” believes Bagley. Plante Moran caters to each of these needs for a diverse clientele across industries like manufacturing, business services, financial, private equity and the public sector through its comprehensive suite of services.

Achieving resiliency starts with forward-thinking, risk management strategies spanning every aspect of an organization— protecting people, assets, data, and operations

Data Analytics: Where All the Business Differences Are Made

The latest global, federal, state, and local pandemic updates have significantly increased the organizational awareness around data-driven decision-making and how it can help in threat-forecasting. Many businesses are now adopting risk monitoring tools across a multitude of operational departments and functions. It is, however, essential for these businesses to develop the necessary analytical capabilities and implement the appropriate change management processes to ensure holistic business efficiency. They also need to take a disciplined and calculated approach to put equipment under preventative maintenance before a more costly breakdown. “Our focus is to help clients forecast, understand, and manage a multitude of challenges through our proven expertise. Clients have consistent access to our breadth and depth of resources that can guide them through any stage of their business processes,” says Doug Farmer, partner and risk and accounting advisory practice leader at Plante Moran.

To this extent, Plante Moran invests in a multitude of different cutting-edge data analytics tools to stay up to date with the risk management landscape. The firm’s Analytics Center of Excellence develops predictive algorithms, applies machine learning models, and designs compelling data visualizations and dashboards. “But our job is not finished until we’ve delivered practical solutions that guide clients’ strategies and empower them to take informed actions,” comments Bagley. Plante Moran starts a project engagement with meetings and discussions to drill down to the areas where a client is facing issues. Following that, the firm uses its methodologies and tools to create customized solutions to the client’s needs. “We understand the unique issues in every industry, thereby tailoring our analytics solutions to address those needs.”

Preparing for a Virtual Workforce

The increased traffic, as well as the sudden expansion of the “virtual footprint” of public and private sector organizations, are increasing cybersecurity risks. “With the global lockdown, your technology, data, and users are now moving to the virtual realm, creating more potential security breach points in the process,” highlights Raj Patel, partner and cybersecurity consulting practice leader at Plante Moran. He says organizations didn’t have much time to plan and deploy appropriate training and safeguards during the sudden move to a virtual work environment. Many of these entities are now looking at security information and event management (SIEM) tools and developing robust Security Operations Centers (SOCs) to analyze threats and react quickly to protect their business. Nevertheless, merely running these tools is not sufficient to mitigate business risks.
Recognizing this, Plante Moran has established a security methodology that ranges from risk assessment, prevention, and recovery to the development of response procedures and security policies. Plante Moran’s framework utilizes a comprehensive set of tactics to create a risk-based cybersecurity threat management program that establishes controls over the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of systems and data, and meets organizational security and privacy requirements. Plante Moran looks at cybersecurity metrics and KPIs to help clients implement the right SIEM tools and ensure the correct data is analysed to mitigate the threats. Industry-leading tools are used to create reports and dashboards using relevant data sources. “We look at your entire cyber-ecosystem—the people, process, and technology—to help your organization ‘stay off the roller coaster,’” states Patel.

“Our focus is to help clients forecast, understand, and manage a multitude of challenges through our proven expertise”

A Strong Foothold across the Country

With more than 3,100 staff members in offices throughout Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio, along with strategic international offices in China, India, Japan, and Mexico, Plante Moran takes its top-notch services to clients across the world. At this juncture, Farmer shares the story of a large private medical research university that was recently looking for solutions to monitor and manage its operational risks. With a clear understanding of the client’s need, Plante Moran realized that a new analytics framework could help the university improve its ePHI security analysis and create operational efficiencies focused on value-added risk mitigation activities. The firm helped the client implement real-time data analytics to review access to health data and grant instant, secured access to ePHI. Similarly, Plante Moran helped a manufacturing and retail outlet develop cybersecurity metrics and KPIs, and the resulting framework is used by the CISO, CIO, and executive management to analyse and report cyber risk.

A few real-time examples of how Plante Moran is helping clients: Plante Moran is developing a proof of concept for the State of California to understand and manage data and programs for the state’s homeless population amid the pandemic. Several heavy highway/asphalt contractors have engaged Plante Moran to provide insights into equipment-related data and oversee financial and operational risks associated with fleet management. Automotive suppliers are engaging Plante Moran and one of its data partners to make more informed decisions about sales and operations through more consumable industry forecast information.

Moving Toward a Safer Future

Plante Moran is now poised to enhance its data analytics and audit capabilities further with its “audit of the future” initiative. The firm is also looking at different RPA and other automation tools, along with machine learning PoCs, to provide clients with better risk predictability. “Industry 4.0 and other digital enablement initiatives are at the forefront of our strategic plans and go-to-market initiatives,” enthuses Farmer

But technology is only one part of a successful cyber initiative. Going the extra mile, Plante Moran is also focusing on the human side of the equation. Given the rapid change many organizations are experiencing many are finding it difficult to keep their in-house technology skills current. To alleviate this, Plante Moran recently rolled out its Cyber Advisory services to help clients assess and bridge the skill gaps in their team. As Patel says, “With the cyber world becoming more complex you need dedicated skills and existing staff might not have the necessary depth and breadth of knowledge. We will continue to help our staff grow and advance their careers while actively helping our clients do the same.”

Plante Moran

Southfield, MI

Dennis Bagley, Partner & Information Technology Consulting Leader; and Sean McBride, Partner & Business Analytics Leader; and Raj Patel, Partner & Cybersecurity Consulting Practice Leader; and Doug Farmer, Partner & Risk Management Practice Leader

Plante Moran is among the nation's largest certified public accounting and business advisory firms. When it comes to risk management, they provide clients forward-thinking strategies that mitigate new and unfamiliar threats to achieve resilience. This proactive approach to risk management helps clients protect their people, process, and technology enterprise-wide.

Plante Moran