By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. – Benjamin Franklin
Businesses, like everything else, should always be ready to respond to a worst-case scenario. Maybe key investors are leaving, maybe your most capable members of staff are ill for a prolonged period of time, maybe your online systems are falling apart. The natural response is to panic, but it isn’t a productive or a rational response. Instead, when company change becomes inevitable due to poor circumstances, you should have a contingency plan ready.
What Is a Contingency Plan?
Put simply, a contingency plan involves thinking about possible weak points in how your business operates. Is it reliant on online sales and services? Better hope your servers don’t crash, or your business will be swept away rapidly. A simple contingency plan for this would be to have backup servers or a manual process ready and waiting: this may add costs to your company, but you’ll be ready when that day for company change may come. It was urban legend in London that there were ghost offices ready to go outside London for all the city traders to shift to should there be any kind of attack.
Is A Contingency Plan Like Disaster Planning?
In short yes, both disaster and contingency planning follow a few basic steps; identify the potential risks and plan to recover should they hit. If you live in an area prone to regular disasters like flooding, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and mudslides, it stands to reason that you’ll be modestly prepared, having experienced the challenges previously: food with a long shelf life, clean water, a battery-powered radio and so on, since the electric grid and the food supply can be disrupted by these events.
Unfortunately, a lot of companies fail to see the clouds on the horizon, making a light drizzle feel more like a monsoon when it finally hits. Initially disaster planning might sound like the ramblings of a paranoiac to the optimist. However, there’s a lot on the line as a company owner: it pays to be paranoid sometimes, particularly when it comes to company change.
Getting it Right
It all starts with understanding your own processes inside out. This means having full flow diagrams of every process. This may sound a tedious task but the rewards fly in through this activity, you’ll get a stronger idea of every gap, you’ll better understand the cost per unit, there’ll even appear a load of opportunities to explore different ways of working, it’s a massive value adding activity in all honesty. It can be tedious, but that is usually when the exercise is drawn out and not understood clearly (needless to say our consultants at The Change Consultancy can remove that).
When there is a clear idea of every process in the organisation, then it is essential to understand the risks each process is exposed to. The risks can be broken down into internal and external threats (we have a slightly greater degree of control over internal threats) and then actions to mitigate the risks can be drawn up. Whatever risk remains there needs to be a plan against each one and that will form part of your contingency planning.
At The Change Consultancy, we’re focused on making company change a simple and understandable process. Check out our services page for further insights.