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When an organisation is under pressure invariably something has to give before the business implodes. Choosing and directing priorities should be the job of the leadership but far too often it falls to middle management or even individuals. When, and how, the decision is made can say a lot about the culture of the organisation. Ideally, a business continuity plan (BCP) should cater for the times when pressure is brought to bear on the organisation.
In fact, coping with volume simply due to increased demand is one of the prime candidates for continuity planning. Customers may be sympathetic if their goods are delayed because the factory has burnt down; they will be less than pleased if hold ups are simply caused by a mis-match between orders and available staff. But far too often an increase in workload is met with a panic response. The temptation is to find ways to circumvent the immediate pressure and this often leads either to a diminution in service to those who matter most- the customers, or to a loss of security.
It is these failure points which can lead to issues such as the passport office trying to drop checks on overseas applicants, or the Student Loans Company, already having been warned over data security, to issue misleading debt recovery letters. When the leadership fails to plan, to prepare for and take account of volume increases then panic reactions are always less than ideal. When the leadership ignore the crisis and still insist on time being taken up in preparing meaningless management reports or in meetings about whether the drinks machine should also offer cold water then you know the organisation is in trouble. By their actions shall ye know them still has its place and when things go awry, that’s when a strong culture steps up and a weak one panics.