IRA to realign operations to a risk based approach

Insurance Regulatory Authority of Uganda (IRA) is in the process of starting on a journey that will see the organization implement a Quality Management System.

IRA is taking the bold step because the regulator is moving from compliance based supervision of entities to a risk based model of supervision.

Under IRA’s new supervision model, supervision will be based on parameters like the capital of the entity, how much it makes, how it handles its business and what risks it underwrites rather than compliance with registration, taxation, etc.

The regulator understands risk is a new component in a quality management system (ISO 9001:2015) and wants to adopt risk based thinking.

IRA believes by implementing ISO 9001:2015, the organization will be able to understand the aspect of risk and how they can incorporate it to their day to day business.

“I believe if we implement the standard, it will keep us on our toes thinking what is the next best thing that we can do? What are other people doing that we can do and how do we benchmark on what they do. That being the other benefit of ISO, I believe as a regulator we are supposed to lead by being the leaders in everything.” Ms. Lydia Tusiime Norma, Planning Officer, Insurance Regulatory Authority said.

Learning from COVID-19 that disrupted the known ways of doing business and challenged people to adopt new approaches of conducting business as one of the reasons that informed the organization’s decision to implement the standard, IRA understands that it works in a changing environment.

It has not lost track of the many things that happened during the pandemic such as people adopting modern technology, the reason it recognizes standards as the new requirement for organizations.

To IRA, the new business models that are happening are more about human centered design; which require an entity to understand its customers and the focus of ISO 9001:2015 is on the customer. “When you come up with your value proposition, you cannot have value without quality; you don’t see it, like when you just think about it, other than the money aspect, you also need quality.” Ms. Lydia Tusiime said.

For businesses small or big, ISO is the way to go because it helps you to understand who your customers are, what is it that they want such that when you are coming up with the solution to the problem that the people faced, you actually hit the target with certainty that once you put the product or service out and quality is in it, you are sure to have repeat business.

IRA also looks to benefit from the standard by it helping ease work at the agency because with the processes involved, people in the organization will come to appreciate things to do with risks and will accept processes.

The regulator plans to streamline its processes having realized that work is being done but there’s no defined way on how it should be done.

According to Mr. Tonny Okotcono, the Internal Auditor at Insurance Regulatory Authority, processes have been in the organization but not documented so there has been no ownership.

“With the process that we are going into of implementing the standard, a certain tone is going to be set from somewhere and that creates what we call responsibility centers for individuals and once that responsibility is fully accepted, work will move on and people will adhere to standards which actually makes you a model entity for others to bench mark on.” Mr. Tonny Okotcono said.

Mr. Tonny Okotocono said organizations need to implement standards because standards keep staff thinking considering the world we live in is dynamic. He also said “Standards set a particular bar for an entity; the most important thing is to walk the talk because you can be ISO certified but when audits are done, it easy to establish whether you are actually meeting the bar that you claim or not.”

IRA’s Journey to implement the standard

According to Ms. Lydia Tusiime, their journey to implement the standard started two years ago when the CEO and other Heads of Department expressed the need to transform the authority.

Top management asked all the new staff to come up with a two page document stating how each felt the authority could be improved mindful of the fact that many of the people had come from different sectors where they served in different roles and were now all coming together, each could have seen a good thing from where they worked previously.

It was basically an innovation strategy and innovation is one of the core values at IRA. But prior to that, Ms. Lydia Tusiime had got an opportunity to serve in the procurement and supply chain management project at Medical Access. So while serving at Medical Access, the organization was already certified.

She joined Medical Access in 2015 and in 2016; the organization started the process of recertification. It happened that they needed a team and the people who had started the process there were like, let’s give a chance to the new people. Ms. Lydia Tusiime got the opportunity to be part of that team, representing her department. At that level, they started the process of recertification where she was doing the actual work and the organization managed to get recertified.

“When I got the opportunity to come to IRA and the CEO telling us to come up with something, at that moment I could see, we could do very many things but when I looked at writing very
many small points, I asked myself, what one thing can I write that will encompass everything. So when I wrote that particular idea, I had nothing else write. That is how, the whole idea came about. “Ms. Lydia Tusiime said. Similarly, Mr. Tonny Okotochono, said his experience with the UN had exposed him to the way processes work. To him, with processes like the ones set under a quality management system, everything works on its own.

When he came to IRA, he had to draw people back to normal in terms of knowing processes, policies and procedures and ideally they have appreciated and now that the journey of ISO has come in, it will set a continuous processes from where SOPs can be derived, thereby laying an easy framework for anybody who is new to use and understand.

“You have these SOPs and once you join as a new staff, they are very clear, they are outlined, and you just follow.” Mr. Tonny Okotcono said.