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Risk management - What's your emergency?

Having contingency plans is essential to keep business moving during a crisis. Frederick Gentile explains how to minimise disruption, particularly when senior staff are suddenly lost.

When you say to people “Do you have emergency or crisis continuity plans in place?” they usually reply “Of course we have – we’ve got our generator, our little black book of contacts etc. – we’re totally prepared.” You then tell them an incident is potentially catastrophic and will take three to six months or more to resolve. Then it dawns on them that they have little or no idea how they would cope.

Disruptions – or crises, incidents, emergencies – come in all shapes and sizes, but what they all have in common is the almost inevitable disturbance they cause to a business. So what do managers fear most when it comes to threats? Not unsurprisingly a survey carried out by the Chartered Management Institute last year showed that loss of IT systems was the greatest perceived threat by managers across a range of organisations. Interestingly, loss of key people ranked sixth in the table, although the emphasis there was mainly on the consequences of severe weather and transport disruption.

Some incidents are fairly common and can be mitigated by solid contingency planning. However, often overlooked or underestimated is the loss of senior management – this does not even rank in the 21 disruptions reported.

This is an extract from the Finance & Management Magazine, Issue 222, June 2014.

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