Not a scenario that often springs to mind when we think of Business Continuity planning – business disruption by fog.

I sometimes work with a company based on Jersey and was due to travel to be with them last week.  Before setting off I was watching with interest the situation involving cancellations of flights in and out of Jersey   airport. The impact was much greater than I expected and in particular the disruption was much more protracted than I and perhaps everyone else envisaged.

Some of my Jersey colleagues were due to fly home from the UK mainland and from Guernsey for the weekend. They ended up seeking out alternative methods of transport, ferries etc. All of this at short notice and facing competition from fellow passengers, quite literally in the same boat. Approximately 10000 journeys were affected due to the fog forcing the cancellation of flights over a 3 day period.

But what of the business impact?

I read one report about the airport itself. Obviously the airport charges each plane to land so there was an immediate loss of revenue. Unlike some businesses the income was actually lost rather than simply postponed because airlines revert to their normal schedules as soon as possible after an incident. In addition the airport agreed to stay open beyond normal operating hours when the conditions improved in order to clear backlogs so this too must have involved additional costs.

Then I started to think about the passengers and freight reliant on the airport. As mentioned above there were alternatives for people wishing to travel but nevertheless key individuals may have missed important meetings or been unable to complete critical on site tasks.

Whether freight can quickly and easily be diverted from air to surface travel methods I don’t know so there may have been potential impact on deliveries. I understand that many of the newspapers sold on Jersey are flown in from the mainland. Again, revenue is lost because once the opportunity is missed no one is going to buy an outdated newspaper. What would the situation be for more critical supplies, hospital supplies for instance. On the flip side there are outgoing deliveries from Jersey – some of which are consumables. How were these impacted?

The normal situation involving fog is that it clears after a few hours at most. I’m sure most parties affected by the fog did not expect the impact to become so protracted and indeed for the same situation to be repeated a week later.

So what does this remind us about Business Continuity incidents?

There are some key points to come out of the experience:-

  1. Simple, everyday events still have potential to impact our organisations
  2. Incidents can sometimes become much more protracted than we anticipate
  3. Some incidents cause losses, some incidents cause delays
  4. Monitoring an emerging situation is key so that action is taken in a timely manner
  5. Quick and effective response can minimise the impact
  6. Consider how even short term unavailability of key people could impact your organisation
  7. Critical supply chains must be reviewed
  8. Be aware of alternative ‘modus operandi’ for your critical processes.

May 16, 2012 at 12:48 pm
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Category: Business Impact Analysis
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