A bumpy landing

I’ve just finished doing one of those straightforward “I’ll knock that off in a day or two” type jobs. It only took me seven days. Over a period of four and a half weeks. The last stint used up pretty much the whole of my weekend. As a result, I now have the backache from hell, serious hockey withdrawal symptoms and a bad case of boarder’s knee. That’s floorboarder’s, rather than snowboarder’s, knee by the way – I don’t think they suffer particularly from sore knees, although most of them must suffer terrible frostbite of the derrière from all that sitting in the snow, but that’s another story (see “Ski boots and celery“).

Anyway, the straightforward little job in question was replacing the floorboards on the landing at chez Oz. It’s not as if it’s a big landing or anything. Neither should it have been particularly tricky. Yes, there are a few corners and a couple of nooks and crannies but nothing particularly complicated, particularly for the seasoned DIY virtuoso I modestly consider myself to be.

No, the problem was that someone had been there before me. Several someones by the look of it. Our house is a hundred-and-something years old, so I sort of realised that some alterations had been done over the intervening years. In fact I’ve come across several examples of previous owners’ “improvements” as we’ve worked our way through it making our own alterations – most of which slowed things down or bumped up the costs, or both. So why I thought this little job would be any different is beyond me.

I’ll spare you the anoraky details – suffice it to say that most of the time was spent putting right someone else’s efforts, which exercised my plumbing, electrical, joinery and metalwork skills as well as my general DIY ability. And my sanity.

I don’t know about you, but in my experience it’s all too often a similar story when updating someone else’s business continuity plans. What should be a straightforward job turns into a monster undertaking because someone without the necessary skills or experience has had a go.

One of the most common findings is that the plans contain all sorts of “stuff” – anything and everything even vaguely related to business continuity that the well-meaning but inexperienced DIY-er could find and has enthusiastically, though somewhat misguidedly, pounced on in a frenzy of copying and pasting. The result is a document filled with all kinds of superfluous padding, from fire evacuation procedures to standard operating procedures to the contents of the yellow pages.

More important, however, is the usual accompanying lack of any proper analysis or strategy, let alone any training or awareness raising or exercising and testing. In other words, the business continuity equivalent of the useless and, in some cases, slightly dangerous contents of the void under my landing floorboards.

DIY can sometimes save money in the short term. Longer term, however, it can be quite costly to put right someone else’s mistakes. There are, therefore, occasions when it’s sensible to get some expert help rather than simply having a go yourself.

My next straightforward DIY job involves more floorboarding – this time the bathroom. Still, it’s not a huge bathroom – I should be able to knock that off in two or three days tops!

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Agree? Disagree? Want to share your own thoughts or opinions?

Post a comment and let me know what you think.

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Andy Osborne (known as Oz to friends and colleagues) is the Consultancy Director at Acumen, a consultancy practice specialising in business continuity and risk management.

Andy is the author of two books ‘Practical Business Continuity Management‘ and ‘Risk Management Simplified‘ as well as his popular blogs and ‘Tips of the Month’, all of which aim to demystify the subjects of business continuity and risk management and make them more accessible to people who live in the real world.

You can follow Andy on Twitter at @AndyatAcumen and link with him on LinkedIn at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/andyosborneatacumen

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2 Responses to A bumpy landing

  1. Rob Berra April 25, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    An object lesson indeed! As a budding BC professional, I can’t help but imagine that the best way to build a BCP for a company that says breezily “Oh, we have one, we just need it updated” may be to build one from scratch and then go look at whatever they already have. That way one is not corrupted by viewing whatever horror is left behind, but can still sift through it for any nuggets one may have missed.

    Of course, the client may not want to spend the necessary money to have you build a plan from scratch, in which case you do the best you can with what you have…

    (the Yellow Pages? Really? Wow…)

    • Andy May 1, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

      Rob,

      You’ve hit the nail on the head with your suggested approach. There’s often some useful stuff (you’d hope so wouldn’t you?) among the “less useful stuff”, even if it can take a bit of digging to find it.

      And yes, whilst the commment about the yellow pages was slightly tongue in cheek, there are often pages and pages of contact details that don’t really need to be there. Would you believe “Police – 999″. I rest my case!

      Regards,
      Andy

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