Continuity management helps with much more than risk mitigation

Anthony Haynes writes: Ever since our foundation, in 2009, we’ve regularly focused our attention, at directorial level to continuity management. Though that might sound a boring thing to do, we have in fact learnt a number of interesting things.

First, there is a danger from thinking of continuity management — by which we mean anticipation of risk by, first, identifying risk and then putting in place steps to minimise or avoid damage — in a limited, disjointed, way.

‘Continuity management’ means different things to different people. Say the phrase to a techie and they might think ‘backing up’; say it to a finance person and they might think ‘cash flow’ or ‘insurance’; and so on.

Continuity management involves all of those things but also more — and it’s important that an organisation develops an overview. And doing so entails consideration of an organisation’s core activities.

For example, thinking about continuity management made us look again at our client base. From the point of view of organisational strategy, it makes sense to focus on one’s best market — but focusing exclusively can make the organisation vulnerable to changes in that market.

That’s why, although our market focus is on organisations for professional people, we’ve sought diversity in that market, aiming always for a balance of:

  • UK-centred / international bodies
  • organisations in contrasting sectors (notably engineering and finance)
  • large / small organisations.

Similar considerations apply to other areas of stakeholder management. For example, there’s a natural tendency to use the best supplier in each category. Found a good designer? Use them for all of your design! Found a good printer? Use them for all your print requirements, right? And so on.

Which makes sense until the favoured supplier runs into difficulty — and then you’re in difficulty. Whereas if you use two suppliers in each category, you may not have all your work done by the supplier you perceive to be the best — but you do have contingency.

The same mindset applies even more, we’ve discovered, to how one organises internal processes and allocates staff to them — on which, more next post.

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