In my experience, a lack of investment in facilities management can cause serious business continuity issues.
In the video below, I discuss a business that has three critical machines at its facility or plant that are important to business operations and cannot be easily replaced. Due to maintenance issues, one is under major repairs, with another to undergo maintenance works leaving only one to operate the business.
Admit you have a problem (Addiction/Risk)
Even before you address a risk, you still have to admit that you have one – like with any addiction. Having a proper Business Impact Analysis in place for facilities management ensures that the inter-dependencies are clearly presented and honestly admitted.
When the Business Impact Analysis is complete, the business continuity professional should organize a meeting with Risk and Facilities Management to prepare a management report on how to mitigate this risk. Some of the possible solutions might be:
- Balance the risk;
- Buy several more critical machine;
- Transfer the risk (partial or complete externalization of this activity – but make sure you conduct your due diligence properly);
- Automation (if possible);
- All of these are measurable deliverables, so they can be subject to cost analysis and can be part of a solid business plan to address this risk.
A Production Issue
This is not a business continuity/disaster recovery issue, but a “production” issue.
A key practice to remember is segregation of duties – business continuity professionals should focus on business continuity issues.
Most (near to all) problems with business impact are business continuity issues (literally). However, not all of them would be managed by the business’s continuity team as if an organization practices segregation of duties. This is why there are production/operations teams to handle most on-site situations. The defined roles and responsibilities of both the business continuity and production/operations teams will determine which team will handle the issue. This is a facilities management issue.
Business continuity management is not meant to replace business as usual and maintenance plans. In fact, business continuity management can assist in making sure that maintenance is done and all upgrades are added into the business continuity plan as part of assurance. The production manager’s duty is to make sure their machines are oiled every time they need to be used and ready for operations at all the time. Business continuity management will ensure that should all fail due to unforeseen circumstances then we have back-up. Therefore, it is a holistic management process, both disciplines must work together but the buck stops with the facilities manager.
Undoubtedly, it is a business continuity issue because it is a wicked problem. In the current situation, it is a critical problem because if something does go wrong, a lot of reactive activity and energy will be expelled.
The service level agreement to downstream suppliers and customers will certainly be impacted. It is more an operational challenge rather than a continuity issue. However, this has now introduced a single point of failure, should this single machine go down, then business will halt and it will be a business continuity issue.
This question also highlights the importance of staff awareness at every level, so that everyone can have the right perception of all direct or indirect business continuity matters.
Training and Apprenticeships
This sounds like a case similar to that of Rotex gearboxes, where there are no working resources left in New Zealand who know how to rebuild these massive and complicated units. Sometimes, it’s not the trades resource that’s lacking but more, the lack of training and mentoring to future-proof business continuity. New Zealand needs more apprentice training so industry doesn’t fall short during routine shutdowns or in breakdown scenarios.
It depends on the duration of the maintenance. If the maintenance of the first machine doesn’t last too long, there is no need to invest in a business continuity option/plan for the second. But if the maintenance lasts longer than the recovery time objective or even maximum tolerable period of disruption, they should think about a Plan B.
In this scenario the downtime was significant, 9-10 months for Machine 1 and two months for Machine 2. Facilities Management should be involved in developing the revised business continuity plan and also setting up a comprehensive maintenance plan going forward.
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