Good business continuity training helps managers and enterprises prepare business continuity plans. However, they’ll also need to deal with a further factor – human error. This element is a cause of anything from small business failure to nuclear power plant meltdowns. A little information on the subject can help make business continuity that much more robust. Although sophisticated analytical techniques exist to assess human reliability, in the first instance we’ll take a common sense approach. This also makes it easier to apply error-prevention measures to your organisation and boost your business continuity still further. Compare them also with the theory and principles of business continuity from your training classes, and exercises you do to test BC plans.
Taking a moment to think about how human error arises in businesses might well yield a list like the following (with examples in parentheses):
Not doing a required task (like failing to back up IT data)
- Doing the task incorrectly (sending the wrong goods for delivery to customers)
- Doing an additional unasked-for task (switching on heating that overloads the power supply)
- Doing the task at the wrong time or late (delaying invoicing for a large shipment made)
- Doing tasks in the wrong order (painting sub-assemblies before integration – or vice versa).
Fixing the human error factor can be done from two directions: you can either seek to change people’s attitudes and behaviours, or you can build safeguards into your systems that protect against such errors. The choice of either solution will depend on the activity concerned. Manufacturing plants and IT systems may have protection built-in so as to minimise any negative human impact. Medical teams may need to focus more on preventing human forgetfulness or inattention. In both cases, simpler remedies are often a good starting point. Organisational culture and attitude will also influence the degree to which employees themselves contribute to better business continuity through less human error.