Business Planning

Backup plans a critical business component

Recently, I had a chance to spend time around a commercial harbor where there were several smaller ships which, to me, were an indication of small businesses. I noticed about half of the ships had, in addition to inboard motors, an outboard motor as you might see on recreational craft on a lake.

After observing these vessels over a period of a couple of cups of coffee, it dawned on me a potential reason for the redundant propulsion system. In some areas, due to factors like weather, remoteness or the general availability of rescue vehicles, the additional outboard motors constituted a backup plan. If you are out in rough seas or in severe weather, a backup propulsion system could be the difference between getting home that day or not. Also, if you place the small business tag on the situation, clients, or the catch of the day, need to be returned to port in a timely manner.

Most organizations need to consider what they will do as their redundancy or backup plan. All too often — and I have fallen victim of this myself at times  —  we focus on a single client or a single line of business for sizable portion of our revenue. When this focus occurs for all the right reasons, that singular focus can minimize our ability to grasp other factors and, at times, may result in tunnel vision.

Having that backup plan or redundancy also is important when we think about the areas of risk to our organization.

There are numerous areas that require backup plans. The most typical are technology, supplier customers, team, critical resource whether human, physical or virtual, and the list goes on. The whole idea of a backup plan is that once you identify a particular risk factor or single point of failure, you then must do the additional planning to identify and secure substitute or alternatives for that potential exposure.

As the winter season approaches some homes in our area will be installing home generators. To my understanding, the rationale for installing a home generator is to prevent the exposure of a power outage due to weather or other service interruption. The same logic can be applied to organizations that have made the same or similar decisions. For those of us who made the generator decision, the action was taken to have redundancy electrical power because we believed that the security of having electrical backup was worth the cost of installation of the generator.

We have seen our fellow citizens in Florida and other weather-torn areas have the only reasonable backup plan available, for some areas, to withdraw from their homes, businesses and even boats. The hope is to return another day and rebuild their lives and businesses.

As you are having that next cup of coffee around your organization, consider those systems, pieces of equipment or team members that you need to have a redundancy plan in place for an emergency.

Cornell Wright is a consultant, author, and business coach. His firm, The Parker Wright Group, located in New Haven, consults with clients in the areas of executive team decision making, talent optimization though a business partner relationship with Predictive Index and Diversity Equity and Inclusion training and organizational enhancement. Cornell can be reached at 203-521-6748 or [email protected]

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