Sometimes we miss the most obvious…

Aug 5, 2016

This week’s bulletin has been written by guest author, Matthew Wardner from Inverroy Crisis Management Ltd. Matthew also delivers training for BC Training Ltd and is part of our team of highly experienced tutors

Business disruptions normally fall into one of 4 categories: loss of technology, people, facilities or suppliers. A standard BCM programme will review the risks to the business once per year, with the more active also reviewing after an exercise or significant event. But is this enough? As you read this, the Rio Olympics is starting in the middle of the holiday season. Have you considered the impact that late night watching of the Olympics, or short notice staff “illness” as a result of too much celebrating of Gold medals might have on your business?  

The impact that watching the Olympics might have on me, let alone my business, started me thinking about other business disruption risks that might slip under the radar, particularly for the smaller companies that do not have dedicated BCM Managers or teams. Here are a few examples:

1. Loss of people.  Many small businesses are run by husband and wife teams. Logically they both go on holiday at the same time. Is the business prepared for a holiday incident?  Given the recent spate of terrorist attacks across Europe we now need to consider both the worst case scenario of the couple being caught up in an attack, or a train accident, through to the travel delays that are often associated with the aftermath of these attacks. Alternatively, what happens if one of the pair is taken ill? A day or two is probably not critical, but a longer term illness or condition might be disastrous both personally and professionally for the couple. When growing a small business, business development, cash flow and so many other activities scream for our attention, but don’t forget to capture your contact details, your processes, your IP and most importantly, to identify someone who can deputise for you as early as possible.

2. Loss of technology.  For a larger business, when was the last time that you considered the damage a disgruntled employee could do to your systems?  If you make someone redundant, do you make them work their notice with full access to your data? For the smaller company, you might be working off a laptop from home or a small office. Is the data backed up? Are your emails archived? Are attachments saved to the Cloud or server? If you lost your laptop, or perhaps spilt a cup of coffee over it, could you survive?

3. Loss of facilities.  Technology has enabled many of us to enjoy more flexible working, but in the main, we still need to use a centralised location to coordinate activity and maintain an administrative centre. If the floor above your office were to suffer a burst pipe and flood your office, do you have a plan? It is one thing to identify an alternative location to move to, but can you operate with the information that you have at hand without entering the flooded building and who is going to pay for your move, given that drying out, replacing cabling, re-plastering, re-decorating and re-furnishing all take time? Does your insurance cover damage caused by a third party?  

4. Loss of supplier?  Are you absolutely certain that your supplier will still be able to supply you in the long term? What happens if they lose a key member of staff? What if they change their pricing and make your product unviable? What if their facilities are damaged and closed long term? If you ask them whether they have a BC Plan, it is a good start; asking to see it is better; better still would be to attend one of your suppliers BC exercises to see their plan actually being implemented and thus providing you with greater assurance.

But why is this important? Put simply, for the effort that you’ve put into growing a company, doesn’t it make sense to spend some time and thought securing that growth through a robust continuity plan and developing a process to identify short term or short notice risks and respond accordingly?

Enjoy the Olympics and the remainder of the summer – knowing that you are ready for, can respond to and recover from whatever disruptive events may occur.

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