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If the Business Continuity Shoe Fits

The following guest post was written by Tony Gimple of risk consultancy Gimple Associates

Many business continuity consultants and managers make great play about how each organisation’s continuity needs are different from each other. Whilst at a macro level that may undoubtedly be true, the wider picture is less so.

Why is that? 95% of businesses are 95% the same. Regardless of sector, type or speciality, every business starts with a raw material or intellectual property to which it adds value and hopefully sells the finished article at more than it cost to get it to that point. Every business will have telephones, IT, staff, an accounts function, a place from where it operates, as well as suppliers, customers and other stakeholders. Thus, in that sense, it doesn’t matter how big or small, how simple or complex, the fundamental needs of having an emergency management location, stakeholder notification, telephone diversion and IT backup/virtualisation remain the same.

So where are the differences? There’s no idiot’s guide to this one. In broad terms, those differences can be found in the minutiae of a given business’s operating procedures and contractual obligations. For example, let’s say staff members have to be moved from one location to another; do their employment contracts allow for it? Similarly, do the terms and conditions of a manufacturing or distribution business allow for it to receive or deliver goods at alternative locations or times? What if the IT systems are so bespoke that virtualisation simply isn’t possible? Or what if it’s essential to issue senior staff with alternative means of payment?

Knowing when something is different from the norm (the sensitivities as they’re known as in the insurance world) is very much the key. As my old sergeant-major said to me when once I asked him how at 300 paces he could tell that I hadn’t bulled (polished) my boots that morning, he replied, “Son, I’m not looking for what’s the same – only what’s different.”

Ultimately, the one shoe will fit almost all. But whether it feels wholly comfortable, lets in the rain, grips an icy pavement or, for that matter, even looks pleasing to the eye, will be down to how much attention to detail the business continuity consultant or manager can give—and whether they’re smart enough to perceive sometimes hidden differences.

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