Making business continuity planning a Swiss army knife….

By |2022-08-18T17:39:50+00:00August 18th, 2022|0 Comments

The Swiss army knife is the well-known versatile pocketknife that not only comes with the standard pen knife blade but includes such tools as screwdrivers, a can opener, a saw blade, a pair of scissors, and a variety of other tools as part of the knife. It’s the original handy multi-tool designed to make life easier when its user makes use of its many functions, and for this they are grateful they took the time to invest in this versatile implement.

An organisations business continuity response should keep in mind the versatility of the Swiss army knife if it does it will find it will have been responsive, agile, and helped it navigate the turbulent risky waters of managing its reputation.

What does a business continuity Swiss army knife look like?

• Plans should guide. It’s unlikely the event that has taken place will fit exactly with an existing plan, do not stick rigidly to it, and make the current event fit the plan. It’s important to think of existing plans as the scaffolding and framework from which to build, shape, and form the current plan required.

• No one likes surprises. Regular horizon scanning should take place, using reliable sources – industry and trade publications, risk management and insurance publications – with future potential risks being assessed against existing plans and alerted upwards. The more time you have to plan for a new potential threat, the more adaptable options you will be able to make available.

• Rapid communication channels. A simple telephone tree or call matrix that’s kept regularly updated (reviewed quarterly or when any personnel changes take place will suffice) and distributed to all concerned. Ensure everyone knows their step in the escalation process, and without delay, how to escalate and who they are contacting. This needs to work as well out of hours as good as it does during normal business hours; will it work at 3am on a Sunday morning, could you get hold of the right people at that time? Word to the wise though – build in multiple escalation routes avoiding potential single points of failure.

• Having a ‘no regrets policy’. This means an organisation will always assume worst case scenario (even when it’s not clear) at the outset and provide as much resourcing as possible to deal with the incident. As the impact of the incident becomes clearer an organisation will find it much easier to deescalate and uncouple resources rather than to be behind the curve, adding additional resources playing catch-up as the incident expands.

• All organisations will have regular suppliers and contractors that they will be using during normal business operation. Its likely that they will only be providing a small number of services from their full range available – find out what other services they do or other industries they are involved in. This information may become valuable when dealing with a future incident that requires additional support.

What does the Swiss army knife principle look like in reality?

Those organisations who had previously recognised influenza as a potential continuity risk and had a contingency plan in place for its effects would have been able to adapt much of that plan for mitigating against Covid 19 as a first response. The same organisations through their horizon scanning, would have recognised early on that Covid-19 had a potential to become a pandemic and began reviewing plans, monitoring Covid’s progress, and readying the organisation.

Including the time to develop Business Continuity planning as a Swiss army knife; building the framework, having a guiding set of principles and processes will enable a wider range of responses to different scenarios supporting the organisational resilience confidence.

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