Sunday, August 21, 2011


BC on a frayed shoestring


I have, thanks to LinkedIn, a new acquaintenance who is caught between a hammer (a COOP mandate) and an anvil (lack of budget).

Most risk management practitioners know the situation, having "been there and done that."

This practitioner's plight has been the topic of discussion for maybe 20 individuals, all offering their two cents. If only she could put all our coins together, she might be able to fund her program.

What can this practitioner do to protect the most critical resource, without spending money she doesn't have?

As with all things "risk management," she needs stratospheric support from her management.

True, there is a mandate from On High, but "On High" is remote and is treated accordingly. Our practitioner needs visible and vocal support from the 800-pound gorilla on site, someone people know and respect.

Cost to the organization? Zero.

She needs to develop ways to reach out to the staff - at all levels.

Since she's already on staff and probably has a computer, additional costs are - Zero.

She may need to reach out to other practitioners for their advice - we've proven we give it freely, sometimes more than needed.

So still, zero expenditures.

It is my understanding that our practitioner needs help from the sundry Functional Units (FUs) to maintain the plan.

To do that, she needs

  1. Help from the 800 pound gorilla to encourage FU managers to cooperate.
  2. To create a short list of tasks for the FU Subject Matter Experts (SME) assigned a COOP role; my list would be a heading followed by one or two paragraphs of (a) why the task is needed and (b) how to accomplish the task.
  3. To create a plan to monitor the SME's actions to assure compliance.

So far, still no budget impact.

Our practitioner also needs to turn all personnel into Risk Rangers - OK, it's corny, but catchy.

Risk Rangers, or whatever the practitioner decides to label all hands, will be trained to be aware of their surroundings; more importantly to be aware of CHANGES in their surroundings.

Is there a new or different smell? Could be a pinched wire about to catch fire.

Are lights flickering? Is power OK; does anything need to be powered down?

Are the skies turning green - where this blog's author resides, that a sure sign a tornado is on its way.

Are animals acting strangely - birds suddenly making a racket or suddenly becoming quiet?

Unfortunately, the Risk Rangers also need to be alert for unescorted strangers in their area.

They also need to know what to do - who to call - if they sense something is amiss.

Since both SME and Risk Ranger training cuts into production time, albeit not by much and not often, we finally have a budget hit; a minimal one, but a hit none-the-less.

It would be good if the budget could be stretched to provide finger foods - snacks - for those participating in training. Nothing big or fancy. I'd suggest that our practitioner bake cookies but that would appear chauvinistic (I prefer to bake cakes); it would save the corporate budget(but at the expense of the practitioner's).

So far little damage has been done to the corporate budget, but people have been recruited as FU SMEs for the business continuity effort, and staff has been encouraged to be aware of, and report changes to, their environment.

Our practitioner reports that her facility is located on a fault line.

It's too late to build an earthquake resistant - is there earthquake "proof" - structure and no money to retrofit the facility, but since she works for a government, perhaps she can get help from within her agency or from another agency to come assess the facilities to identify points where people should - or should not - congregate with things start to shake. These areas should be clearly identified on frequently-seen maps and the staff's quizzed from time to time on their locations, as well as the two nearest exits, the AED machines, and fire extinguishers. It's amazing what we pass by on a daily basis and never see.

What about communications. That requires special hardware and software, right?

How about scrape paper and a ball point pen. (I'd suggest crayons, but my grand daughter won't part with hers.)

Keeping in touch with the troops immediately following an event is critical. Identify, "right now," places that offer public bulletin boards. Supermarkets and laundromats are traditional plans; also public libraries. All personnel should know where the primary and alternate sites for each neighborhood are located. If a code is needed, they should know this, too.

I'm a great believer in the buddy system in the work place. It also is useful when a number of employees live in a geographically compact area; they can watch out for one another and keep the organization posted regarding their welfare. Who can they call? Our practitioner's organization is big enough to have remote operations; for those that don't, consider a remote sales office or perhaps make an agreement with a trusted vendor.

Back in the day, the (U.S.) Air Force had a program that challenged its personnel to "cut the cost without impairing the program." Those were relatively affluent days; imagine the challenge in today's penurious conditions.

Somehow we have allowed ourselves to become totally technology dependent. Unfortunately, technology costs and, more unfortunately, sometimes those costs are beyond the budget. We, like our practitioner, need to find ways to "cut the cost without impairing the program." Lacking funds to avoid or mitigate risks WILL "impair the program," but there remain things that can be accomplished even on a frayed shoestring budget.

No comments: