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Be Prepared ….  or Carry on Regardless ?

An ongoing series of informational entries

planning, preparedness, continuity, business continuity, manging the future

What's your choice?

27 February 2019

Be prepared. It sounds like something only a boy scout would do, or a well organised parent – ready for any eventuality….. but it’s something that every business should do too! And not just ahead of Brexit – whatever that may mean for us; be it individually or the UK as a whole.

Why be prepared? Isn’t this kind of preparedness overkill? Isn’t it just something that large corporate businesses need to do? Doesn’t it just waste time preparing for something that may never happen?

What’s the alternative? Carry on Regardless?

There are many ways in which we can be prepared as a business, all of which enable businesses to be more effective in their daily work – knowing that the future, as far as possible, has been considered and prepared for. Whilst it may seem a ‘waste of time’ planning for something that we hope may never happen, by doing so, we open up many opportunities for ourselves.

Being prepared means that you:

1. Consider the risks to the business – operationally, structurally, developmentally;

2. Understand the impact that these will have on the business – short, medium and long term;

3. Develop strategies for managing these;

4. Where possible have trial runs – especially if you are including alternative ways of working that haven’t been used by the business before;

5. Identify alternative ways of working, processes or procedures that may be adopted into daily practice and enhance the workplace or improve efficiency.

This can be done in a variety of ways, or used together to maximise forward thinking:

Corporate Risk & Issue register

Similar to a project risk and issue register, this tracks those risks and issues that are pertinent to the function of the business.

It may incorporate key project risks and issues – if you keep a project risk and issue register these would be red risks / issues with high impact after mitigation.

It will always include those risks and issues which would impact the operation of the business: loss of key staff, loss of a key contract, inability to access the building, computer outage etc

Used as a senior management tool, the corporate Risk and Issue register enables senior managers to be aware of potential and actual issues, track their proximity and manage their impact. Through awareness alternative ways of working, methods of mitigating a risk or managing an issue can be discussed and agreed. Capturing this information and then acting on it can resolve a risk and avert an issue forming or resolve an issue if it does occur.

Used correctly – ensuring it is reviewed and updated regularly – the Corporate Risk & Issue register ensures that Senior Managers can act quickly if risks develop. It enables a designated individual to act in an agreed manner and manage the situation. This autonomous action is invaluable. Senior management time is limited – all too often their diaries are busy with meetings planned days (if not weeks) in advance. Its difficult to pull them all together to manage an issue and make considered decisions, when their time is limited. By having time to consider potential risks and emerging issues, enables properly thought out responses.

Continuity planning:

What would you do if you were unable to access the building in which you work? What would happen if the IT structure failed? What if you lost a major contract – one crucial to the funding of the business? What if you lost a key member of staff suddenly?

Continuity planning enables businesses to carry on its day to day activity without too much disruption. And whilst there may be some delay in being able to implement the plan – perhaps accessing a back up IT structure, or locating to alternative accommodation – this would be minimal compared to the delay had the continuity plan not been in place.

Continuity planning may not be sophisticated, it is their effectiveness and ability to enable the business to carry on that matters. Examples may include:

Issue Continuity plan Management

Unable to access the building in which the business operates All staff work from home until the building can be access / alternative accommodation can be found All staff to use laptops which are VPN enabled and have company mobile phones – ensuring connectivity wherever they are located

IT structure fails Back up of system taken every night IT facility requested to revert to last back up

Any input undertaken since last backup to be reinput

As with Corporate Risk and Issue Registers the benefit of such planning is that this can be undertaken as a focussed piece of work – enabling managers to make considered choices and decisions, without the pressure of a real life problem potentially clouding judgement and demanding that a plan – and in some cases any plan – is implemented and quickly!

Be prepared or Carry on Regardless?

What’s your choice?