PlanB Consulting

“Leaving On A Jet Plane”…..Oh Wait!

I’m on the Isle of Tiree waiting to put my daughter (9) on a plane to Glasgow; she has to return for a dentist appointment. I took a boat to Tiree to catch the plane. Between the boat arriving and the plane taking off, there was 30 minutes, which is tight even for a small island airport. Of course I rushed to the airport only to find the plane had been delayed. I suspected this, as it is a rather misty day. We were informed that the inbound plane was just leaving Glasgow. All we could is wait, and hope that the aircraft will soon be with us.

Although not an incident at this stage, we do have a plan b. This involves a 4 hour boat trip, followed by a 4 hour drive for my wife to get to Oban to collect our daughter from the boat, and then drive back to Glasgow.

Waiting here, has got me thinking…as I do…about incidents and the bulletin I am due to write and reminds me of my time in the army on operations in Northern Ireland. Nothing very much would be happening and then there would be an incident, which involved frantic activity, followed by further activity punctuated by bouts of waiting. In an incident, all of you will know that there is lots of activity followed by lots of waiting around.

My thought today is, how can we use that time effectively and usefully, when we’re not involved in frantic activity.

1. One of the things the airport staff in Tiree have been very good at, is keeping us updated on the progress of the plane. At least every 30 minutes  an announcement is being made with an update. In an incident, it is vital that you update your interested parties, whether they are staff, customers or suppliers affected by the incident. There is nothing more frustrating than being involved in an incident and existing in a vacuum of information. Saying there is no change and no new information at least tells people something. With social media –  almost all organisations have websites, there is no excuse for not constantly updating information on the incident, even if it’s to say there is no change.

2. Continuing this theme of ‘updating people on an incident. I think in advance where possible, you should have identified your list of interested parties and have thought through how often they should be updated. Who will update them?  If you lose all your IT, website and email you have to think through how those contacts will be reached and how will you get hold of the customer contact information.

3. As I said previously you will spend lots of time waiting around in an incident for things to happen – you should aim to use this time usefully to ensure you are prepared for the next events.’ Down’ time is a useful time to review your communications and ensure that all relevant interested parties have been contacted. You should also review your events to date and planned actions,  making sure that they are appropriate having checked that pre-determined recovery priorities are still appropriate and relevant. I also think time should be spent looking at your worst-case scenario and the risks associated with the incident and check that these risks have been mitigated. A good question to ask yourself is, what don’t we want to happen? Then you can think through the steps to make sure that the worst case doesn’t happen.

4. Finally, on incidents. There is a tendency if you have a break in your incident management to try and manage your day job. This may be appropriate as no-one else is doing it, and there are some urgent actions to be taken. Good practice is to appoint a day job manager, whose sole task is to manage the daily activities, allowing those managing the incident to give it their full concentration.

The weather is clearing, and hopefully the plane is not too far away!

About Charlie Maclean-Bristol

Charlie Maclean-Bristol is one of the Founders and Directors of PlanB Consulting. He is also the Training Director of Business Continuity Training Ltd., a UK-based training provider accredited by the Business Continuity Institute. Charlie is a former Business Continuity Institute board member and one of the very few Fellows of both the Emergency Planning Society and the Business Continuity Institute.

A former Infantry Captain in the British Army, Charlie held several emergency planning, business continuity and crisis management positions within the energy and utility industry before founding PlanB Consulting in 2007. Over the past twelve years, Charlie has delivered business continuity consultancy in 6 of the worlds 7 continents, frequently providing full business continuity roll-outs to organisations of all sizes and in all sectors.

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