Otago Daily Times

Plan­ning for the un­ex­pected

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SAM Mul­hol­land has doom on the mind. His busi­ness, Standby Con­sul­tancy Lim­ited, fo­cuses on busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity man­age­ment, help­ing com­pa­nies plan for the worst and ex­e­cut­ing those ac­tions when a dis­as­ter oc­curs.

He is now fo­cus­ing his ef­forts on busi­nesses in the South after ex­tended stays over­seas.

‘‘Ev­ery­one thinks of the high­pro­file ones like earth­quakes and bombs and things like that.

‘‘But most of your dis­as­ters are iso­lated and quite small . . . elec­tri­cal fires, some guy dig­ging up the ca­bling in the road with a dig­ger and cuts you off, an em­ployee that . . . does some­thing stupid ei­ther ma­li­ciously or ac­ci­den­tally.’’

In­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy (IT) is one of the big­gest is­sues Mr Mul­hol­land’s con­sul­tancy deals with.

Cy­ber at­tacks are a ma­jor threat to al­most all busi­nesses and can quickly put a com­pany out of op­er­a­tion for days or even weeks.

‘‘With a cy­ber at­tack, call cen­tres are sud­denly say­ing ‘some­thing’s just not right, it’s not work­ing’. Then some­one else turns around and says ‘hey we’ve lost our email’. Sud­denly the IT guys are say­ing ‘what the hell’s go­ing on here?’.’’

Cy­ber prob­lems are not an IT depart­ment­only is­sue, they are a man­age­ment prob­lem.

Man­agers have to have a plan that is put in place when a cy­ber at­tack hap­pens. That can in­clude hav­ing backup data cen­tres, or if worse comes to worst, tear­ing down your IT sys­tem and build­ing it again.

‘‘If you knew what the dis­as­ter was go­ing to be, you would have mit­i­gated and planned for it, but you don’t.

‘‘If I’d stood around two years ago and said ‘what would hap­pen if a gun­man walked into a mosque in New Zealand and shot 52 peo­ple,’ I’d have been laughed out of the room.’’

The im­por­tant thing for busi­nesses is to have a plan in place that you can mod­ify to suit, what­ever the sce­nario.

There are few busi­nesses that have not been im­pacted by the Covid­19 pan­demic, and it is some­thing his or­gan­i­sa­tion has ex­pe­ri­ence plan­ning for. They did not, how­ever, ex­pect a pan­demic as world­wide as Covid­19 has been.

And yet, he has clients that are us­ing their ex­ist­ing plans to cope.

‘‘Most of that in­volves put­ting peo­ple to work from home and things like that.’’

He said the key was for busi­nesses to get op­er­a­tional as soon as pos­si­ble and that is what the plan lets them do.

Re­cently one of Mr Mul­hol­land’s clients’ of­fice was de­stroyed be­cause it was about 5km from the Beirut ex­plo­sion.

‘‘They were up and run­ning within four days,’’ Mr Mul­hol­land said.

‘‘They have the in­fra­struc­ture in place, they’ve thought their way through it and away they go.’’

The ben­e­fit of hav­ing the plan is you know the route you are go­ing to fol­low.

‘‘When a dis­as­ter is hap­pen­ing you are burn­ing, you are re­ally burn­ing your cash be­cause you’re get­ting no cash­flow, and that’s what kills most com­pa­nies.’’

 ?? PHOTO: GRE­GOR RICHARD­SON ?? Sam Mul­hol­land has a busi­ness that looks after dis­as­ter plan­ning for in­ter­na­tional firms.
PHOTO: GRE­GOR RICHARD­SON Sam Mul­hol­land has a busi­ness that looks after dis­as­ter plan­ning for in­ter­na­tional firms.

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