Sunday, April 19, 2015

How to
Assess Values, Threats, Vulnerabilities and Risks

           To accomplish its mission or function, every organization must protect personnel and critical assets from all threats, both natural and man-made.  

Spending limited funds to protect personnel, assets, and equipment is a delicate balancing act in risk management.  The question always arises: “Am I getting enough bang for my buck?”  Without a quantitative method for risk assessment and analysis, this question cannot be adequately answered.  Responding, “I think so,” simply won’t cut it.

Risk analysis methodologies fall into one of two categories – qualitative or quantitative. 

Using the qualitative method requires the assessor to be a subject matter expert.  He or she relies on his/her experience in order to conduct the analysis.  Over time, this type of analysis deteriorates as the assessor’s enthusiasm wanes in the twilight years.  Additionally, two assessors assessing the same asset will most likely arrive at differ results because they view what they see based on their own individual background and experiences.  Even the time of day will affect the outcome.  Think about it, who want to assess something right after lunch when their body is crying for a hammock?  This variation becomes especially critical when analyzing multiple assets.  The final drawback of the qualitative model is that it cannot be easily transferrable to others as it is based primarily on the person’s years of expertise.  All of that said, single assets that require to be assessed only once are good candidates for a qualitative assessment.

The second methodology involves assigning numerical values to differ aspects of the analysis.  By assigning values to certain features, the methodology becomes quantitative.  This is important, as the assessment doesn’t change between assessors because it isn’t based on their experience.  The old guy and the young guy observe and assign a value based on what they see.  There is or isn’t an 8-foot high chain link fence with 3-strand barbed wire outrigger.  Both analysts see the same thing and provide relatively the same analysis – so, it’s quantitative!  There may be a slight variance in the number they assign but usually not significantly.  Another advantage of quantitative analysis is that it can be easily taught and doesn’t deteriorate over time.  No matter how many assessments and analyst has conducted the results are consistent.  Quantitative analysis are especially effective when assessing multiple assets, where there is a need to compare asset values to determine prioritizing countermeasures.  Quantitative analysis allows decision makers to invest limited resources in reducing the risks to the greatest number of people first.  After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Next month, Ed Beakley, Director, Project White Horse 084640 will share his ideas on leadership during crisis.  More information about Ed and his 30+ years of research can be found at

No comments:

Post a Comment