Santa’s resilience planning: part three

Published: Thursday, 17 December 2015 10:12

In the third of a series of articles following Santa Claus and his first attempt at resilience planning, Paul Kudray looks at the steps that need to be taken to ensure that the business continuity plans are fit for purpose.

Are you sitting comfortably? Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve followed Santa’s business resilience planning for Christmas 2015. Remember, the entire Claus team had experienced a real near-miss last Christmas, when they almost didn’t have their reindeer transport on the very eve of when they were needed. What a catastrophe that would have been! We could have seen the end of the real Santa, as he was replaced with eSanta, just because his business wasn’t prepared for a crisis!

That – as you know - led Santa and his top management team to bring in the professionals to help build a more resilient organization.

After going through the scoping stage of resilience and embedding an awareness campaign across the Claus organization, Santa and his team undertook the - often dull sounding - business impact analysis (BIA) activity, which helped them identify: what the threats were to the business; who they relied on to help push some of the presents under the tree (ssshh); and then they prioritised what the risks and actions would be.

This helped determine what response structures they needed and what business continuity plans they would require. Remember, they also developed and implemented the high tech Santa Incident Management System (SIMS) – which was supported by the internal ‘Santranet’.

The IT team (who you can normally spot because they wear black shirts and hate the phrase ‘whilst you’re here could you just...’), have assured Santa, Stekkjarstaur, Stufur, Faldafeykir and Thvorusleikir that their defences are robust against cyber threats.

White Christmas?

We’re well aware not everyone around the world has (or wants) snow at Christmas. Australia petitioned against the suggestion when the question was asked in 1873; claiming they enjoyed an unbroken summer. So if it was crossing your mind that Santa and the team need contingency plans for snow; you’re only very slightly right. Santa’s contingency plan needs to work in all seasons, because he will literally see all seasons on the night of his ‘big adventure’.

Let’s stick together

At this stage Santa and his team had reached the point of needing to exercise their contingency plans. This helps test the plan fully, gives confidence to those who have roles and responsibilities to take and - if the plan works - it can be validated and signed off. If something doesn’t work well, the team can identify lessons through the feedback and debrief processes. The Claus team really have that ‘come on, come on, let’s stick together’ attitude and are fully invested in making sure their plans are really truly tested to the full. They don’t want a quick run through, so they can make green on the risk register and call it job done; there’s little (resilient) point to that.

Exercises should stimulate the participants. Not just to simulate what could happen. It’s important to make sure exercises are as realistic as possible: using a combination of methods and challenging scenarios.

Frosty the (disgruntled) snowman

One of the scenarios considered what would happen if one of the snowmen, or the helping Santas - who we see around the world in department stores, garden centres and in our streets and public squares - was unhappy with their employment and did something ‘bad’ to try to sabotage the organization?

Equally, what if a terrorist decided to target Santa and his mission?

Santa’s team had some great debates about how these threats are being mitigated by the inclusion of disclosure barring service and criminal records bureau checks. You might not know this, but even Santa and his team have security clearance papers to get them into sensitive zones and places!

The power of love

The whole of the organization has now been truly tested on all resilience issues. They all know what to do, what their roles are and how to make sure their most urgent services can be maintained. No matter what!

The exercise part of the process has been a great success (they have a great exercise facilitator too *ahem*)! The Claus team now have strategic, tactical and operational plans and we’re making sure suppliers and outsourced partners have resilient plans too. As you know, this can be a lengthy process, because we can’t just ask if they have them, we need to see and read them too!

Santa and Stekkjarstaur are making sure their plans are – and continue to be - tweaked where necessary. For now, they’re signed off and implemented. Great job! We all feel very excited and relieved! But the task is not (ever) finished. The plans will need to be maintained.

After all, a plan isn’t just for Christmas!

Love song for a vampire

As Christmas approaches seemingly faster than ever, world events continue to shock. The worst of natural disasters and human behaviour (sadly) don’t stop just because it’s the time of the year we celebrate peace and goodwill to all men. As such there are important issues we also need to be mindful of; it’s not just all about Christmas cheer and merrymaking.

Santa and his entire team (yes, even the reindeer) stopped some of their toy making, wrapping and resilience planning for a couple of hours to make sure they gave blood at their local community. It’s important to keep the blood stocks up anytime of the year. Santa joked he only gives his so he can have a mint Club biscuit. Ho, ho, ho he chuckled! From the twinkle in his eyes it’s clear he’s just kidding; the Claus team want to make sure they can help others in emergencies. Santa’s sleigh even has an automated external defibrillator (AED) fitted on it now and I’ve made sure the reindeer are trained in how to use it!

There is still a lot of inequality around the world, including in our own local communities. It’s important to remember that as well as enjoying Christmas as a special time, we can use it as a time to reflect and help where we can.

Of course, this, like the plan, works best when it’s not just a once a year event.

Next week, as the big day gets closer and we move into single numbers of sleeps left, we’ll see how Santa is prepared and ready to rock all night, no matter what happens!

The author

Paul KudrayAn international leader in business resilience consultancy, training and coaching; Paul Kudray, MSc FICPEM CBCI AMBCI, is an ex-emergency services commander who finished an exemplary 32 year career in the UK healthcare sector, working for the NHS - culminating in 7½ years as the Director of Resilience for one of the world’s largest ambulance services, NWAS NHS Trust. He now works with private and public sector clients around the world, training, advising, coaching and mentoring them at the highest levels about emergency and business continuity management. Paul's company is KCLContact Paul at paul@kudrayconsulting.com or via LinkedIn 

Read part one and part two of the Santa’s resilience planning series.