The positive by-products of continuity management

Anthony Haynes writes: In my previous post I mentioned that the emphasis we give to continuity management has had some unintended consequences — positive ones, fortunately!

The first such by-product is efficiency. We have sought to capture and communicate each of our business processes. The key motive here has been to have resources (protocols) available so that, were a team member to become unavailable for some reason — illness, say — a colleague could stand in, regardless of whether they work in the same department.

I think of this like Total Football, the Dutch ideal in soccer in the 1970s, whereby each player in the team should be able to play in any position.

What we found — which perhaps, on reflection, is not so surprising, but it wasn’t what we were specifically looking for — was that the very process of trying to capture a business process made us look at the process more closely — and so to ask questions such as ‘Is that the best way of doing things?’ and, as a consequence, ‘Supposing we did it like this instead?’

In other words, we ended up not only recording processes, but also making them leaner.

The second by-product concerns marketing.  When we began to mention to clients our focus on continuity management, they showed real interest — a great deal more so than we had expected.

It turns out that continuity amongst talent acquisition agencies is a matter of concern to hiring organisations. One might expect the larger agencies to have this covered better than smaller ones: they have more staff so they’re better able to provide cover, right?

Well, no actually. Though in theory that should perhaps be true, in practice agencies often allocate each role to one individual to deal with. If some problem arises concerning that individual, the consequence can be a loss of continuity, resulting in difficulties in filling the role in question.

In practice, then, this is an area in which smaller agencies, in which each team member is more likely to be aware of what colleagues are working on, can score.

What we found, then, was that our emphasis on continuity management acted as a sales tool. In particular, our policy of ensuring that we always have at least two people well versed in, and empowered to act on, each role emerged as something that clients were keen to buy into.

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