Bulletin / The importance of...

The importance of Personal Business Continuity Planning

Author: Charlie Maclean-Bristol

This week Charlie discusses the importance of personal business continuity planning and the lessons learned from not having a plan in place.

It is often said, and quite often true, that builder's houses are either three quarters built or have quite a lot of work that needs doing to them, as the builder is too busy working on other's houses, rather than working on their own. In the same way, last week I became a victim due to a lack of personal business continuity planning.

On day two of a four day client visit around the UK, I managed to drop my wallet on the train as I changed seats. So I arrived in Liverpool Central Station at 9pm with absolutely no money at all and no means of getting any. I spoke to the train manager who said he had found my wallet and he had handed it in to the lost property office at Birmingham, an hour and a half away. I had a meeting in Liverpool the next day so I could use my return ticket to go to Birmingham the next evening and collect my wallet.

There was nothing further I could do but walk the mile and a half to my hotel, which I luckily had booked through booking.com so they had my credit card number. The hotel said they could use the card to pay for my hotel but there was no dinner or drinks to be put on the bill. Supper consisted of the free biscuits from my room. My meeting the next morning was eight miles away and even my new fitness enthusiasm didn’t go that far, so I begged a lift from the client who very kindly picked me up to go to the meeting and dropped me off at the station afterwards to return to Birmingham.

Lost property was found and the wallet produced. I was then informed all cash, £70, was not to be returned to me as it was sent to head office and I would get a cheque sent to me, minus 10% handling charge. At least I had my cards. The next destination was London and feeling a little relieved I headed off to pay for the ticket. My card didn’t work so I tried another. Then to my horror, I realised that every card had the chip destroyed by a hole punch so it could not be used.

The words of Victor Meldrew were used, “I don’t believe it” punctuated by a number of swear words which would not be allowed on TV.  All my dreams of a big slap up dinner in London and a few drinks on the train were dashed and I was back at square one. Through a combination of paying for things over the internet, an oyster card which had some money on it and no spending money, I returned home 48 hours later none the worse for the experience, and perhaps a little more informed about having a personal business continuity plan in place.

My lessons learned are:

  1. Avoid single points of failure i.e. having all your cards and money in one wallet. If you lose it as I did, you have nothing. If I was abroad, especially in a country which is not a big user of credit cards, I am not sure what I would have done. If you are travelling keep a spare card or means of getting cash separate to your wallet or purse. I always travel with my computer rucksack and will in future keep a spare card in there.
  2. Do you know the provider of all your credit cards and bank cards? I seem to have numerous credit and bank cards but probably would not know the providers of all of them or the number to declare them lost. Take a picture of them on your phone or scan them and then keep a copy on your phone or even on a cloud. So if you lose the lot you have the company, the number on the card and the number to ring.
  3. The same goes for your passport. Have a spare copy of its details or even a picture which will greatly help if you lose it.
  4. There is a lot you can buy on the internet without needing to have your card actually there. I bought train tickets and paid for hotels and this kept me going. Although if you cancel your cards, which you need to do if they are stolen, then this is not going to work unless you have a spare card. We spend a lot of time preaching to others about the importance of business continuity, avoiding single points of failure, saying it could happen to you and making sure that you are prepared for a disaster. If the disaster happened to you, are you prepared?

You may be interested in the following course

BCI Developing & Managing the Business Continuity Plan course