In my bulletin on Thursday 20th October 2011, I wrote about the crisis in the eurozone and what actions the business continuity manager ought to take in response to such crises. My article said that during crisis events which affect the organisation from outside, the business continuity manager needs to have the incident room ready to go and should suggest to senior managers that the crisis is managed in the same way as a major business continuity incident.
The Greek part of the eurozone crisis as been in the news all this week. Despite the previous refusal of politicians to talk about a Greek exit from the eurozone, they are now acknowledging that there is at least the possibility that this could happen. The politicians have admitted that they don’t know what would happen to Greece and the rest of Europe if this was to occur. The talk of a possible exit is unsettling the Greek population and causing many of them to withdraw their savings from the banks. We have already seen the consequences of a run on the banks with Northern Rock a few years ago.
What does all this mean to us as business continuity people? As part of our role we should be anticipating events, planning what to do in the event of a possible deepening of the crisis and understanding our organisations exposure to the exit of Greece from the eurozone. I put this question on the LinkedIn Group BCMIX and the replies came to the conclusion that the business continuity manager couldn’t do a lot, as the skill sets to deal with this were not normally those of the business continuity manager. Although this is true, I think there are three tasks we could be getting on with:-
- Look at your exposure to the eurozone crisis. Does your organisation have interests in Greece and do you export to the country or own Greek companies? Are you exposed to the Greek debt through your organisation’s bank? Is there a possibility that a Greek default could have a major impact on your bank or could the possibility of it collapsing have a knock on affect on your organisation? This may be a small possibility but as business continuity people we have to prepare for the worst case scenario. Do you have staff that travel to Greece either as part of work or on holiday? If there is a sudden collapse of the Greek banks could they, and their families, be marooned in Greece with no money as credit cards may no longer be accepted? Do you have plans in place for helping them get home? If they are on holiday does your organisation have a moral obligation to get them back and even if you don’t have a moral obligation, do you need them back to continue their role in the your organisation? I know a number of people who have Greek holidays in the summer planned. Perhaps you could offer to organise and facilitate a workshop to explore your organisation’s exposure to these events?
- You should be asking around your organisation to find out what is being done to prepare for a possible crisis in Greece and the knock on effect to the economies in the rest of Europe. As noted earlier in this article, some of the solutions and understanding of the key issues may be beyond the skills of the business continuity manager but you should be asking the questions internally and raising this as a risk.
- Lastly we should be dusting off your strategic plans, just in case they are needed to rescue your CEO or MD marooned in the Greek islands with no money!