When we are busy implementing a change project it is sometimes easy to forget that business continuity also needs to maintained. Change projects are rarely all encompassing – they usually involve a department or region within a larger organisation. The larger organisation often requires the ‘non-changing’ parts to be successful in their business in order to support the change project. Put simply – the rest of the organisation may be needed to ensure cash flow is available to support the ambitions of the area that is changing.
In the oil and chemicals industry I was often involved in major change projects which had to be implemented with the absolute minimum of disruption to the rest of the ongoing operations. It can be very expensive to stop or disrupt normal production processes within large industrial complexes therefore the amount of ‘down-time’ needs to be kept to a minimum. The manager of a successful change project needs to carefully consider the impact of their activities on other ‘ongoing operations‘ to ensure business as usual does not suffer unnecessarily as a result of the project.
To minimise disruption to business continuity in other parts of the organisation it is necessary to determine how the change project might negatively impact these other areas. This requires a bespoke risk identification and management process focused on the protection of business continuity. I have provided an introduction to the basics of change project risk management here and you can find more detail on the process from my RiskTuition.com site. A bespoke business continuity risk management process should include the following:
- Identify your ‘ongoing business’ stakeholders (In other words: Who will be trying to maintain ‘business as usual’ while you implement your change project?)
- Determine how each stakeholder’s area of responsibility might potentially be impacted by your change project (this could take the form of a risk identification ‘brainstorming’ exercise to which key stakeholders are also invited)
- List the risks to business continuity identified above and estimate the value of their potential negative consequences for the business (= the worst case value impact)
- Try to determine the likelihood of each risk occurring and multiply the financial severity by the likelihood to estimate the relative importance for each risk. Use this importance guideline to prioritise the risks.
- Put together a prioritised action plan to either ensure the risks do not arise (management of business continuity risks) or if they do occur to minimise the negative impact (business continuity risk mitigation). This should take into consider the relative importance of each risk. Get key stakeholder input to this action plan.
- Regularly review the risks to business continuity and their management during the change project and take corrective action if new risks are identified or risk management actions are not successful.
This bespoke business continuity risk management process should form a part of the change project’s overarching risk management process. To find out more about change project risk management use the link here.
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