PlanB Consulting are very pleased that they have been shortlisted for the Business Continuity Institute Award (BCI) European Awards under the category of Business Continuity Service Provider of the Year. The Awards Ceremony will take place on 12th June as part of the BCI Executive Forum, which is being held in Brussels on 12th – 13th June 2013.
Charlie one of PlanB Consulting’s Directors said on hearing about the shortlist said;
“We are very excited about being shortlisted for this award. Last year we had a extremely successful year but it is aways hard for a small organisations like us to compete with the larger consultancies and service providers. This proves that through hard work and good services to our customers we can! Roll on the 12th June”.
Last week Charlie presented the first ever CBCI course based on the New 2013 GPG. On the course there were students from Kenya, Belgium and Nigeria as well as the UK. The course was a good improvement on the old course. There was a lot more opportunity for discussion and use of the case study VIA-C.
All students enjoyed the course and the feedback form filled out by the students gave him between 8-10 (out of 10!)
Commenting on the course one of the students Mark said,
“We have just completed it (the exam) , it wasn’t as bad as expected – I think I speak for all, take care – have a good weekend all of you,
Thanks Charlie for the question tips – it helped”
We await to see how the exam results go!
One story which has had very little reported about in the news this week was the Carnival Triumph. A cruise ship with 3200 passengers aboard in the Gulf of Mexico which had a fire in their engine room and caused a loss of ALL power to the ship, it took four days to tow the ship into shore, during this time the crew had to feed the passengers with non-perishable food which they had to queue for several hours to receive. The bathroom facilities didn’t work and the passengers had to use plastic bags and due to the smell of sewage and the loss of air-conditioning many passengers took to sleeping on deck under makeshift sheet shelters giving the ship the air of a refugee camp.
One thing which intrigued me about this incident was the lack of news broadcasted about it. Although the meat scandal is still taking the headlines in the UK, I was surprised that this incident has not been on the media news at all. I only heard about it when someone on my wife’s business continuity course mentioned it! I am not sure if this is because the media journalists didn’t think it very newsworthy, or that it was at sea and out of the range of mobile phones and there being no power for satellite phones and internet there was little information coming from the ship, therefore, little information to drive the story.
So lesson number one – if you are to have a disaster make sure it is way beyond the range of mobile phones! There are a number of other lessons and comments on the incident which we can learn.
- If you have a disaster where somebody has purchased a product or service, you need to be generous with the compensation and refund. All those on the cruise got a full refund, compensation and money off their next cruise. If you are generous and reasonable with your compensation this will elevate most person issues. Those who will sue will probably sue you regardless of how high the compensation. Being mean and trying to save money on compensation will probably cost you more money in the long term.
- In all risk assessments we come back to ensuring there is no single point of failure. Within this ship there obviously was, in that the fire took out the complete electrical system. You would think that power is so critical to a cruise ship that they would have installed a second system. If buildings have standby generators why didn’t this ship?
- My final point is about scale. Cruise ships are basically floating hotels, and their luxury and size, I think makes people forget that they are on a ship. Whether you are on a huge cruise ship or a small cabin cruiser then they both suffer from the same risks. They can go onto the rocks, sink or catch fire. Size can often make an organisation or a piece of infrastructure more resilient but still if there is a single point of failure as in this case disasters can still happen!
And if we hadn’t exhausted the list of potential disasters then we need to add meteorites to our list of potential incidents!
For the last 10 days in the UK one of the biggest stories in the news has been the finding of horse meat in a number of UK ‘beef’ products. Testing by the Irish government on a number of supermarket own brand burgers found traces of horse DNA and another burger was found to contain 30% horsemeat. The burgers were rapidly withdrawn off the shelf and the supermarkets blamed their suppliers. Looking in the news today on the BBC website there is an article about Finders lasagna which has been alleged to contain 100% horsemeat. The supermarkets are now scrambling around to test all their meat products to see what they contain. I suspect this scandal has some way to go as more products are tested and more horsemeat is discovered!
There is another emerging dimension to this scandal developing. Whilst horsemeat is not a health hazard and it is eaten in many countries, there is the issue of the medicinal drugs which are given to horses. Within the UK, the drugs which can be used on animals for human consumption are very strictly controlled to ensure that those who consume the meat are not harmed. In horses there is not the same control, as horses are not bred for food. I would suspect when the horsemeat is tested, they will find traces of horse drugs which would not be allowed in meat for human consumption.
This incident will not have, I believe, a great impact on the supermarkets. As so many of them are involved, then all of their reputations will be reduced, but I suspect most people will continue buying from them. A few people may turn to vegetarianism, but this incident may in the long term, benefit the supermarkets as people buy more expensive traceable meat.
The companies that this incident may have the biggest impact on will be the suppliers to the supermarket who may have their contracts with the supermarket terminated. It may not be them who have purchased the horsemeat, they make up and package the burgers for the supermarkets. They purchase the raw material, the meat, from a supplier or even a supplier’s supplier who has introduced the horse meat into the food chain.
Is this relevant to us business continuity people?
- For some of us product recall, product tampering and product failure is part of our job role, whilst for others this is an operational responsibility and the plans for traceability and being able to recall your products is managed by operations or the department responsible. Where we may get involved is the crisis management of the incident. This is just the type of incident, I think, which should be handled by the organisations strategic/crisis team and handled using an incident plan.
- When I teach the BCI 5 day business continuity course, a key theme of the course is that “you can outsource the activity but not the risk”. So in this case, although it was not the supermarket that put the horsemeat in the burger, it is their responsibility to sort out the issues associated with this. I think once senior managers understand some of the risks they run with outsourcing, then the business case for outsourcing key activities is not so strong and may be abandoned.
- We within business continuity are not responsible for checking the quality of our outsource providers goods and services they supply to us. Where we can add value within this relationship is checking their business continuity plan. Often business continuity is put in contracts and the suppliers promise the earth but once the contract is in place business continuity is quietly forgotten. Where there are critical suppliers, I think the business continuity manager, working with the department who is being supplied to, should on an ongoing basis check the supplier is keeping to their contractual business continuity obligations.
However hard you plan for an internal disaster as business continuity managers it is much more difficult to ensure that one of your suppliers do not cause an event which impacts you.