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If the weather outside is frightful
The long awaited extreme weather conditions are already hitting northern parts of the UK with some gusto. We have so far been lucky in the Thames Valley and surrounding area. Weather experts say that it is all about to change. Extremely low temperatures, ice and snow conditions may last through to February.
Keeping businesses running in these conditions can be challenging but not impossible. Planning ahead and recognising what’s really needed is the key. Manufacturing and service professionals will normally need to physically attend the workplace and suitable arrangements needs consideration now. One idea is to stagger working patterns and allow workers to travel when it’s less congested and safer for them. You may even think about temporary accommodation for vital people.
Many of your office based staff need not travel and can work from home. The cautionary note is that your business may not have enough connectivity or bandwidth to handle many simultaneous remote computer connections. Travel to customers may have to be substituted by on-line communications and video. Be careful about allowing workers to use their own home PCs. Home equipment is normally not so well protected against cyber-attack as your office computers. Physical safety of staff working at home must also be addressed. Overall, your understanding and empathy with workers having difficulty will pay dividends in the longer term. These demanding conditions are an opportunity to enhance staff loyalty, whist keeping your products and services flowing.
Airbus wins new market at the expense of failures by Boeing
Loss of or disruption to operations can be costly. Customer's memories are long when the pain from product failure is considerable. A fine example is the recent win made by Airbus in Japan, a market with a tradition of buying Boeing aircraft. The $5.9 billion USD win for airbus proves this theory in a big way. Boeing suffered more than one significant incident with resultant bad press.
One can only wonder at the extent of work and investment Boeing must now go through to recover from such a hit.
How well considered are your business continuity and risk recovery measures? Have you ever theoretically tested your ability to recover from a major failure or disruption?
Denial of Access - Much more than just a business risk
We often consider denial of access to be potential for business disruption. It’s much more than that. Just consider the plight of people in South Korea when the North closed the border and its adjacent business facility at Kaesong in April 2013. The lives of workers, both South Korean (800) and North Korean (53,000) were seriously impacted by cessation of work when 123 South Korean funded businesses, vital to the economy of North Korea stopped operating. In Europe we hear of dispute between Spain and Gibraltar posing a threat to businesses on “the rock”. The potential impact is much more than that. Many workers commute across the border each day and long delays or worse could be devastating for both Spanish and British families. La Linea De La Conception, the border town in Spain already has around 12000 unemployed and risks extending by another 4300 Spanish people, who currently cross into Gibraltar for work each day, along with many British nationals, resident in Spain. Denial of physical access would be damaging for people and businesses on either side of the frontier. Whether caused by political tensions or a fishing rights dispute one cannot deny the potential for loss on both sides.
Denial of access need not be due only to political issues. A loss of building, industrial dispute, civil disorder, public transport disruptions, extreme weather and epidemic are just a few of many reasons why people cannot reach their workplace. Then there is the more commonly published computer systems denial of access. What of the entrepreneur who sells her products on-line or the big corporation, with demand for timely information needs? A workplace can be whatever and wherever you want it to be but the fact remains that you will always face a risk of not being able to access it. Good business continuity planning takes account of people not being able to reach their workplace, be it physical or electronically virtual. Skilled people are a company’s greatest asset and must be the basis of any dependable resilience strategy. If your continuity strategy does not consider this issue, it is time for a sensible and business level review.
Reputation is key to success of your business
Hot news this week is the Archbishop of Canterbury's condemnation of payday loan company Wonga. Such attack from such a respected and trusted source can be damaging to say the least.
Why not take a moment to think of what shortfall of service, loss of infrastructure or external forces may bring damage to the good reputation of your company.
Remember that customers are easily lost but very much harder to gain. Protection of reputation must be a central part of your business resilience strategy.
Summer holidays are here!
It’s easy to cast aside all business worries and rush off to the sun at this time of year. What happens to the business whilst you are away? Before leaving for that exotic annual vacation it is wise to make sure someone is ready to cover your work. Good business practice is to either set your email to “out of office” or temporarily give access to a colleague. Let's not forget phone forwarding and messaging. Similarly, someone should be on-hand to collect mail and phone calls. Business doesn’t stop whilst you are on the beach or up a mountain.
The assignment of deputies and contingency procedures is a natural part of good business continuity practice and is encouraged by us and our professional colleagues. Is “Succession” a part of your business continuity plan? Moreover, do you have a well-considered, published and practiced business continuity management system?
Let’s talk about it when you come back. Have a safe and happy holiday, knowing that business will still be thriving when you return to it.
Sudden and unexpected business disruption
It won’t happen to us
How many times have we heard that statement? Bad things happen in business. Get over it. Disruptions can be caused by many unexpected and unwanted incidents. The challenge is to plan contingencies, without actually knowing what may happen.
The answer is to plan risk response strategies at a more generic level and enable room for dynamic decision making. Just consider:
- Operational process interruption;
- Staff unable or unwilling to reach the normal workplace;
- Loss is essential information feed or leakage of company confidential material;
- Damage to something or someone vital to operation of the business;
- Building, utilities or physical infrastructure seriously damaged;
- Supply chain failure, including that of a large customer;
- Financial change, which could seriously affect planned or existing operation;
- Failure to “abide” by legal requirements or regulatory controls, bring fines or closure
The devil is in the detail so don’t go there. Too many organizations spend much time planning response for every eventuality to the finest degree and often fail to finish business continuity implementation as a result. You can embellish and fine tune your business continuity response once initial deployment has been successfully completed.
The most vital thing is to embark upon design of a robust “Business Continuity Management System”. A BCMS contains much more than a Business Continuity Plan and spans much wider than control of IT and telecommunications failures. People, business procedures, abiding by legislation, physical premises and external forces must all come into consideration. Without too much detail, just initially ensure that all of these eventualities have someone assigned to deal with anything that may come along.
“There is no time like the present” is a phrase I often heard as a boy and the same is true for Business Continuity today. Amongst a vast array of risk profession statements, one sticks out in my mind.
On average and globally, a business will suffer from some form of major disruption or serious incident at least once within every five years. Without advance planning, many never recover.
When will it be your turn? The solution is easy; you just need to start now.