2021 – We must keep ‘match fit’ and warmed up

Jan 8, 2021

In our first bulletin of 2021, Charlie discusses why we need to continue to stay prepared for the coming year.

Happy New Year to all our bulletin readers!

I am not much of a runner, built more like a rugby prop than the slim running type! I have never done a marathon or even a half marathon, but I quite enjoy the odd run and annually competing in the 5km race at the Isle of Coll Half Marathon.

There seemed a time in late autumn which was the beginning of the end of several incidents, which most of us in the business continuity profession, have been dealing with or planning for. The vaccine, the first one and then a second, had been approved and this promised a way out of the pandemic in 2021. We had a lockdown in November which many hoped would lead to the relaxation of measures at the beginning of this year, similar to what we experienced over the Summer. The American elections seemed to offer a return to more traditional politics and their role of world leadership, which we have seen over the last few decades. We had a deal for Brexit, and so the dire predictions and reasonable worst case, remember Operation Yellowhammer, wouldn’t come to pass. Finally, there was going to be a Christmas amnesty which would allow us to see our family. The memes went mad with us saying goodbye to a terrible year and people looked forward to better times.

There was so much hope. Now in 2021 we have the new more infectious variant of COVID-19, which is making more people sick than in April and May, hospitals are getting close to being full and throughout the country we are in full lockdown which is having dire implications for large sectors of industry and to top off the bad news, schools are closed. The closure of schools means more parents have to home-school and look after their children, impacting a huge swath of organisations. I also noticed that the Scottish Environmental Agency (SEPA) had a ransomware attack on Christmas Eve, which they have yet to recover from and on Tuesday night we all would have seen the mob ransacking the USA Capitol building.

In running terms, if we thought at the end of 2020, we had run the race and reached the end, enjoyed the clapping of the spectators, had the post-race rehydration of a beer shortly followed by a lamb burger (Isle of Coll Marathon style) and thought thank goodness its only once a year and now we can relax, this is not the case. 2021 has started with lots of different issues. As business continuity professionals, we must be always alert for the next incident and we have already seen that after 2020 we can’t yet relax but we need to be ready and have our organisations prepared for the next incident. In my bulletin in early December I argued that the COVID-19 response is now a health and safety issue and should be managed as day-to-day operations of the ‘new normal’ leaving the business continuity manager to horizon scan and make sure their organisation is ready for the next incident.

Whether you call it a new year’s resolution or not, I think this year, us business continuity professionals need to make sure that we are ‘match fit’ by ensuring we are trained and up to date with the latest tools, techniques and business continuity thoughts. We also need to ensure that our organisations are ready, by updating their plans, risk assessments and BIA’s, carrying out exercises and internal training. Yes, even during COVID-19, so that you are ready to face whatever 2021 throws at us. Finally, we personally need to stay warmed up, as the next incident or crisis could take place at any time and hopefully by carrying out horizon scanning, we can identify any potential problems early and be ready to respond.

If you are a runner and would like to run on a beautiful island, with a fantastic atmosphere and have the stamina to ceilidh the night away afterwards, then sign up for the Isle of Coll Marathon in August 2021.

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