How Real World Problems Inform Real Product Solutions
Brendan Colliton started in a business development role at LogicManager over seven years ago. Through his many conversations with clients over the years, he witnessed ERM software play a pivotal role in helping people achieve their goals. Brendan is now the VP of Product Management and leads a team focused on every step of our product’s lifecycle. He knows the importance of putting the customer first, which is why we wanted his perspective on how today’s challenges have shaped their product development process. Our content writer Ali sat down with him for an interview.
Ali: Tell me a little bit about yourself; what are your responsibilities here at LogicManager? How have they evolved over your time here?
Brendan: I started at LM in a business development capacity, which involved a lot of talking to customers to figure out what would be the best solutions for them. Over time, this gave me a strong interest in how our product could really help people accomplish their goals. Eventually this interest led me to join our product management department, so I became more involved in designing and figuring out how our product would operate. Most recently, I’ve been focused on rolling out the Horizon version of our platform.
Throughout your tenure, how have you witnessed LogicManager’s software evolve to fit our customers needs?
We’ve always thought that the best risk management information comes from the front lines of an organization. We’ve also seen in the market that our customers’ risk management programs are now more geared towards getting information from those front lines. People originally were weary of reaching out and engaging with managers; there was always a concern that they were just adding something to their plates, making people feel like they were “in trouble,” and that it wasn’t viewed as a valuable use of their time. But now, we see people a lot more receptive to working with risk management, especially in the pandemic. Lately, we’ve been hearing from a lot of risk managers that they’ve received comments from colleagues about a newfound appreciation for their role given the focus it has on sustaining the business.
Pain points have certainly shifted since the start of the pandemic. What are some new problems our customers are experiencing? Have you noticed any trends by industry?
Certain industries are doing better than others; banking and finance companies saw a ton of new business early on in the pandemic because of the PPP loan program, but of course that brought on its own set of challenges being a brand new process that was ripe for fraud and credit risk. Fraud isn’t what these lending companies are necessarily used to dealing with.
Beyond that, we have a wide presence in educational institutions who are concerned with how they get kids back to school and what they need to be thinking about from a risk management standpoint. People want to get people back to work, but it’s a challenge to figure out how to do that in a responsible way that doesn’t expose them to liability.
How have those problems guided you and your team throughout the product development process?
We try to think of it in two ways: one is from a product-feature perspective, thinking about what our product can do to make it easier to reduce the risks related to something like return to work. We’ve really leveraged some specific items to do that, like our incident web form and monitoring activities that help people demonstrate compliance with various state and federal mandates.
Secondly, we can try to solve these challenges through content enhancement. A lot of organizations are not sure of the best way to take state and federal legislation and turn it into actionable items for their employees. We’ve tried to bridge that gap by offering content packages, checklists, questionnaires, etc.; content intended to be something risk managers can quickly adopt and share internally instead of being responsible for converting their own regulatory environments to fit the LogicManager structure.
Considering the new challenges and risks businesses are facing today, in what ways has that heightened the value of ERM?
The value has been heightened in a few different ways. Risk management is a discipline that goes through different oscillations of what its goal is. In high performing times, when the economy is strong, it’s viewed as a performance driver; i.e. “how can this help our business perform the strongest and meet its objectives?” In bare markets and times of uncertainty, risk management becomes more about risk mitigation. With COVID, liability mitigation is especially important. It’s important to think about how you can use risk management to collect evidence and prove to regulators that you were a responsible business.
You’ve got to think about ways to shield your organization from liability when there are really great risks of employee illness and customer dissatisfaction — the financial pressures are just that much stronger. ERM is a great tool for navigating the crisis and knowing what your risks are, because it helps you predict how your customers, employees and vendors are going to respond to them. With the future in mind, no matter how responsible you really were, you need to be able to collect evidence that proves it.
Customers’ ERM maturity levels have grown over the years — what are some trends in increased expectations that you’ve seen? What are some product features that have moved to the forefront as requirements?
That’s a great question. As I mentioned earlier, people are more willing these days to reach out to the front lines. Going back to that, there’s been a focus on helping people get the engagement they’re looking for. Many companies are more willing to collaborate on risk management efforts, so it’s crucial for our product to facilitate user interaction. To help, we’ve been revamping our task functionality, making it easier to interact with. We’ve also emphasized improvements to our help center and in-app walkthroughs to allow for gathering risk information from people not on the risk team; people that are responsible for setting up processes but not responsible for risk information. It’s important that we empower risk managers with the right tools to go out and get the information they need.
Where do you see the market going over the next several years?
It’ll be interesting to see if the pandemic has any long-term impacts on organizations and the makeup of their workforce in terms of how much they’re remote or working together. This would change the toolset needed by ERM and risk professionals to aggregate data. There will most likely be an increased emphasis on automating ways of collecting risk information; it’ll be important to interpret metrics and provide insight through a risk-based lens.
At LogicManager, we’re preparing for an increased focus on automation by continually investing in things like AI and robotic process automation. We’re trying to find the best way that those technologies can be used to add value for customers. So much of AI today is really about analyzing existing data sets, but because risk management is inherently future facing, you’re always thinking, “how is this going to affect our business moving forward?” So we want to learn how we can use this type of technology to help our customers prepare for and predict the future.
Are there any recent projects your team is excited about that you’d like to share?
I mentioned earlier that we’ve recently been working on launching Horizon, a version of our software with a much more modern interface. It allows customers to take advantage of the best parts of the classic interface, but it’s much easier to use and navigate. Rolling out this new platform has set a better foundation for us to tackle some features and requests from customers over the past few years that wouldn’t have been possible with the old version of the platform. This type of multi-year project is something a company needs to take on every two decades or so, and we’re lucky enough to have the independence and resources to deliver this new cutting edge technology platform.
We’re looking to use the new platform we have to tackle some of those initiatives I mentioned in terms of the direction of the market, so incorporating AI into our platform is certainly a goal. For example, the team is currently looking at the ability for our tool to suggest control activities, policies and procedures that a user should use to mitigate their risks. We also want it to identify or address compliance obligations. There also may be the possibility to compare strategies across other organizations that they could adopt to keep up with their industry demands. The possibilities sometimes feel endless, but we intend to continue to stay focused on innovating with our customers’ needs as the driving force.
Want to see Brendan and his team’s latest product innovations in action? Request a demo from a LogicManager expert today.