Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Test, Test, TEST

In three previous posts, I considered why it’s important to be able to handle a crisis, what one might want to consider when forming a crisis planand managing risk.  So, we’ve now looked at all the scenarios and got what we think amounts to a plan – what next?
The next key stage is to test the plan.  By this, I mean we simulate a situation where (say) our work premises are inaccessible, staff have to go to either a Contingency Site (CS), work from home until instructed otherwise, or act as though they’re buying replacement furniture, equipment or other essential activities. 

Testing is vital not only to see what works, but also what doesn’t.  

We might have to ask certain “stakeholders” (buyers, suppliers, clients, lawyers, bankers, emergency services) to “play along” to see if our contingency communications or delivery channels work – and if it’s practical.   

Remember, things don’t have to be perfect, they just have to work.   

After the test, we get everyone involved together and find out what they felt went well, what needs improving, and what didn’t work at all (and why).  By using “real” stakeholders, we can also obtain useful feedback on what works for them and what doesn’t.  What we think will work from our side may not from theirs.  Our business or reputation could suffer unnecessarily if we can’t address this. 

Initially, we might want to carry out “mini-tests” on different components of the plan.  This also makes for more control and minimises potential disruption to “Business as Usual”.  Sooner or later though, we need to test the whole plan to make sure that all the “bits” work together.  There’s little point in having a perfect (say) IT plan if they can’t interphase with internal and external customers.   

Test once, test again and keep testing (at least once per year).  What worked last time may not work this time because things have changed (location of suppliers, telephone numbers of vital contacts, new staff, roadworks, for example).  

We need to accept that we’ll never get the plan 100% “right”, but if we can achieve 80% effectiveness, we’ve got more than a fighting chance – certainly more than 99% of our competition. 

I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My website provides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.


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