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Once the analytical team started to look through the cause and effect diagram, they realized that one of the common themes related to the relationships among the different social assistance agencies that worked with the homeless and disadvantaged communities. It appeared that these agencies competed with each other to gain clients, as this enabled them to secure more public funding. In practice this meant that the faster they could turn a client around as "treated" or "helped," the faster they could obtain another new client – and thereby obtain more funding. How could the analysis team look at this issue using an FMECA approach?

Bringing It All Together

By the time the analysis team had completed the FMECA process for all of its risk sources and subsources, it was able to provide the organization with an exceptionally detailed and very comprehensive understanding of how these risks could affect (or already were affecting) the achievement of the department's goal to reduce the level of violent crime in Oil City.

The final step in the process was developing a single comprehensive risk treatment plan, which allocated both accountabilities and resources to those organizational leaders best suited to dealing with the risk. This risk treatment plan took the recommended actions from the various FMECA analyses, and combined them into one single source of truth for the department's violence reduction strategy. The RPN score from the FMECA was also used to help prioritize the initiatives, with the highest levels of risk generally being accorded a higher level of priority for treatment.

In order to align with the Police Department's existing strategy and business planning model (including its quarterly reporting cycle), the ERM manager also worked with the head of strategy planning to group risk treatments together to form overarching strategic initiatives.


Progressive public safety agencies are well placed to leverage their existing risk- aware culture to support an ERM approach. By adopting a range of root cause analysis techniques, these agencies are able to identify the underlying causes of community safety issues, and then develop strategies and partnerships that allow them to address these situations more effectively. In doing so, they are able to apply their resources more effectively, and also ensure that other parties to the problem are doing their part to manage the risk. Because public safety is a shared responsibility between the police and the public, the use of root cause analysis techniques provides public safety agencies the ability to reframe the conversation both internally and externally, and ensure that they are applying their resources in the most effective and efficient way possible.


Andrew Bent is a practicing risk manager with a large Canadian integrated energy company. He was previously in charge of enterprise risk management for one of Canada's largest municipal police services. He holds a master's degree in strategic studies, as well as ARM-E, ARM-P, CRMA, CCSA, and CFE designations.

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