Tuesday, 1 July 2014

When Risk is Inevitable and Other Holiday Stories....

Yes, I know. Another post about Risk. Yawn...

We are, however, coming to the time of year when some of my clients suddenly think about Risk for the only time in the year. The 1st seems to be 'only a couple of weeks now until I'm on holiday' time. Sadly, for some people, that is also accompanied by waking up at 3am suddenly terrified that something horrible will happen while they are aware.

I've had two of those calls already today (and have award myself some points for not saying that we should have been talking about this already - some time ago). Everything from "I don't even know if we have a backup" to "What happens if my phone is stolen while I'm in Madeira" (and these are direct client quotes from this morning..!

Risk management is at its best when we are not 'fire-fighting' - when there is a bit of time to do things properly. Sadly that's not often the case - and so I'll get to some 'fire-fighting' pointers soon. Firstly, though, I'm going to take the opportunity to say "told you so".

"How can you think yourself a great man, when the first accident that comes along can wipe you out completely?" (Euripides)
Exactly. The whole point of Risk management is to avoid being wiped out. At all - never mind completely. It's simple - consider the things that might go wrong; think about what we would all do if they did happen; and think about the sort of things we could do to reduce the chance of them happening at all. That is the whole of Risk Management. My experience and expertise comes in providing a framework that I know works, in having been there before and so, perhaps, having thought about a wider range of risks, and in actually getting things done. Actually producing a Risk Register, actually running some tests, and actually making some changes to the way things are done following that testing.

Deep breath. Ok - so fire-fighting.

If you are suddenly concerned about the Risks facing your firm or business then now is not the time to start building a complete Risk Register. Consider, instead, the following:

  1. Ask your IT people - whether in-house or contracted - about your data
    1. Is it backed up?
    2. How is it backed up?Do
    3. When was the backup last tested?
  2. Ask your facilities people (or Dave who looks after the office) 
    1. When was the last fire drill?
    2. Who's in charge when I'm away?
    3. Who has home and mobile phone numbers for all the important people?
    4. When was the last time that this list was checked or updated?
Those are the 'Big Two'. A failure of your buildings and/or your information are the things that will cause the most problem, in the short term. Just - please - remember this concern you are feeling and let's get a robust Risk System in place when you get back from holiday.

On the same subject, I have advice I give to all my clients at this time of year. You need to be able to relax on holiday and so - please - have the conversation with your team/secretary/PA/boss. You know. THE conversation.
  • Say when - or if - you will read emails while on holiday
    • How about scan them first thing in the morning?
  • If you have people you trust with your email - and you should have - then agree that they will check your email and flag anything that absolutely has to be seen by you. You can then check those - and only those - each morning.
  • Don't say "Call me if anything important crops up" without agreeing what is important
    • You don't want to be called on holiday to tell someone where the spare printer ink is, but equally you don't want to return to the smoking shell of your building and someone saying "Ah yeah - we didn't want to bother you..."
  • Tell your clients that you are going on holiday. They won't mind - honestly. Explain who in your team will be dealing with them when you are away. Introduce them. 
  • Tell your boss and your firm that you're going away. Yes - I know you boss should know, but its worth making sure. 
  • Why not have your mobile number divert to the office or to someone else's mobile?
Simple steps that will allow you to rest properly while you are on holiday.

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