Risk management is research, analysis, planning, and artful guessing. In my part of the risk management process, I have to deal with the inevitable failure. Every General will tell you that no plan survives intact after first contact with the enemy. I have to prepare for the failures that happen upon first contact. In essence, I have to make Plan B a reality. Of course, Plan B has an even greater likelihood of failure than Plan A, because it is, after all, Plan B. Things aren’t going very well if you have to resort to Plan B.
The current Plan B project is the result of the failure exhibited during a rehearsal of the Plan A for moving operations to the client’s emergency business continuity operations centre.
Plan B is a plan involving getting key staff to rally points from which they can be transported to the business continuity site. In a large metropolitan area, this can be a major undertaking when roads are clogged with traffic or blocked by the police or rioters.
Plan B starts with selecting key Plan B staff on the basis of physical fitness above all else. (These people are a different lot from the Plan A staff. They are a hardier and generally younger lot.) Then they are trained on the principals of movement and communications under circumstances where transportation and policing have broken down. If the selected staff are still engaged enough after this to remain on the team, then they have to be trained for their jobs at the business continuity site.
Next comes the hard part — planning their individual routes to the rally points. Each person will have their own routes to their rally point. This has to be done to minimize risks of attack and robbery as well as the physical risks associated with the route itself.
In the current project, we had to establish caches of supplies to facilitate Plan B. This was difficult and entailed renting storage lockers and other spaces to store supplies, vehicles, and to provide shelter if needed.
When I hear people talking about business continuity without any understanding of the human element, I know they have never encountered a real disaster at first hand. The technology is easy to deal with compared to getting competent people to the places where they are needed.