4. SCENARIOS VS. AGILITY
A lot of business continuity planning is scenario driven. Hurricanes, earthquakes, work stoppages—those are some common scenarios that we often plan for. But for most companies, a pandemic was something that wasn't on the planning list. It just hadn’t happened in so long that if you said to me a year ago that we're going to have a major pandemic that's going to shut down the whole country, I would have said, “Not in this day and age, not with our health care systems the way they are.”
Clearly now we know that they can happen. Going forward, pandemics will be part of the scenario planning process.
But knowing that we overlooked pandemics, is that really the problem or is the problem that we only plan for the types of scenarios that we think will happen? What if the next big disaster is not another pandemic or an earthquake or a hurricane but something else that we haven’t anticipated.
It’s valuable to do scenario planning, partly because the next major disaster may of course be one that we have modeled, in which case we have pre-created plans and possibly resources that we have prepared in advance to be ready should that scenario occur (such as emergency power generation, food supplies or backup data centers).
Scenario planning is also valuable because it trains the team members minds in how to analyze an emergency situation and develop a response plan, so at least they are more ready to rapidly develop new approaches to unanticipated emergencies in real time.
However when a solution is developed at the last minute to an unanticipated scenario, we are more limited in our options because we have so little time to build or order supplies or equipment that might be beneficial.
So it’s also good to prepare resources that can be utilized in flexible ways in a variety of potentially unanticipated situations.
For example, one of the tools that companies are starting to use to deal with the urgent needs are low code platforms, which get solutions out to customers, associates and employees that can be deployed quickly. These are self-contained platforms where people can build applications quickly without really needing to know how to code. These platforms are useful not just in an emergency of course but for rapidly changing in response to market needs as well.
When we're building the capability to respond more quickly to change, we get the benefit of having not just the technology in place, but also the people that know how to use it and the processes that are designed for rapid development.