I had the good fortune, several years ago, to attend an exercise that involved several parts of the health service. The scenario was pandemic influenza, it wasn’t particulalrly focussing on supplies and suppliers, and the aim of the exercise was to explore how parts of the health service worked together.
Impact of the Scenario
During the exercise, as the pandemic became worse, hospitals were forced to begin shutting services; beginning with the least urgent and important and aiming to keep the most urgent and important open for as long as possible. No problem with that.
However, when the time came for recovery, they simply reversed the process opening the most urgent and important first. Again, you may think that there is nothing wrong with that – but they didn’t think about their supplies and suppliers and so they decided to start up their services without the necessary supplies to maintain those services.
Supplies and Suppliers
That does sound a bit like a trick question doesn’t it – but it is only a trick if we fail to take any account of our operating environment. Business Continutity is about looking at the impact of particular scenarios on the provision of our critical products and services. Some of the scenarios we will have considered will have taken into account supplies and suppliers failing – but the hospitals seemed to assume that suppliers were immune to flu!
What do we Learn?
We need to consider the impact of our scenario on other stakeholders. Then we need to understand if and how that impact on our suppliers could affect our business. If we don’t do the proper analysis, if our planning does not take into account the full implications of the scenario or if we fail to understand the impacts that other stakeholders can have on the delivery of our business – then our plans will not deliver proper business continuity.