Here are 3 examples of business continuity cases. I have changed the names, but the examples are real.
1. Loss of key supplier
Brown Engineering are a precision engineering company making components for aerospace applications. In this type of business, sub-contract processes must have the approval of the client.
During a business continuity exercise, Brown Engineering found that there was exposure with Zeta Plating who were the only surface treatment company approved by Brown's client, Mega Aerospace for a critical component. Brown's immediately contacted Mega and pointed out this exposure, recommending that an alternative surface treatment company be approved. Literally the next day, Zeta Plating had a fire which meant that critical operations were suspended for 3 months. Brown's contacted Mega and asked,
"Have you heard about Zeta?",
"No, what about them?",
"They've just had a fire"
Well, he wasn't kidding and there followed a rushed programme of test pieces being made and surface treatments carried out. They got away with it, but only just.
2. Common mode failure
This was a situation where a company had several alternative suppliers for components critical to their operations. The only trouble was that all of these were sourced from a company in Japan who was hit by the tsunami. So, whilst the companies had alternative sources lined up, in fact in all boiled down to a single prime source. This is a difficult one to spot.
3. Step improvement in business
One of our clients is a chemical company in the North of England. They have a site which is bordered by rail, river and roads and cannot be expanded. Their primary competitor has a plant in New Orleans which was hit by Hurricane Katrina and flooded out. The group owning this plant decided not to restart it. So our client had the initial surge in orders immediately after Katrina, with which they could cope, and then a substantial increase in business which had the capability of overwhelming their operations. Again, not an easy one to predict.
Cases 2 and 3 are difficult to predict, but there is no execuse for being exposed as much as in case 1.
For more deatails on setting up a business continuity programme suited to your company, or how SSS can help with this, go to