Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Business continuity planning according to Paddington Bear

In just a few weeks the latest blockbuster movie to hit our screens will be released at the cinema – Paddington Bear. This is the story of a well-meaning Spectacled Bear with a fondness for marmalade sandwiches who made his way over to England from Peru and was adopted by the Brown family who named him after the station he was found in.

But what has this got to do with business continuity? When arriving in England, Paddington probably wanted to write to his family and let them know he arrived safely, but had he done so then his letter would soon have been returned to him with a polite note from Royal Mail saying that they weren’t even going to try posting it. Why? Because Peru was going through a lengthy postal strike that had left such a backlog that it would take many months to recover from.

Peru may be an extreme example but postal strikes happen in many countries all the time and if your organisation is reliant on the postal service then it could cause a major disruption to you and your customers.

Of course it’s worth noting that according to the Business Continuity Institute’s latest Horizon Scan Report, industrial disputes are not something that provides most business continuity professionals with any concern. In the survey that informed the report, only 21% of respondents expressed concern or extreme concern at the prospect of an industrial dispute causing a disruption to their organisation. Perhaps they were thinking more of their own employees taking industrial action rather than the consequence of a supplier’s industrial action.

It does make you consider just how reliant you are on the postal service, or any other service for that matter. Despite tending to use email and other forms of electronic communications, there are still times when we rely on ‘snail mail’. The main example is that, with many of us leading such busy lives, we often turn to goods and services that are delivered direct to our door. The rise in electronic communications has also seen the rise in online shopping so if you are a retailer then a postal strike could have a devastating impact on your business.

It is therefore worth thinking, what would you do if the postal service was no longer available to you, what are the alternatives? How would you deliver to your customers or receive goods from your suppliers?

Fortunately for Paddington, Mr Brown had a telephone so he was able to phone home instead and let his Aunt Lucy know he had arrived safely.

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