Otago Daily Times

Planning for the unexpected


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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