There are hacks and hacks. Some hacks are bad news, especially when they target IT security and jeopardize business continuity, but others – the other kind of hack – could save the day in certain circumstances.
Yes, we’re talking about the business continuity hacks in the sense of a workaround, an ad hoc or temporary solution, while something better is put in place.
Now, it’s tempting to think that anything that helps the organisation avoid business interruptions and weather storms is good, or at least not all bad. But hacks and workarounds can bring their problems, especially if you do not know what to look out for.
For a graphic example of a workaround gone wrong (skip to the next paragraph, if you are squeamish), take the example of somebody bleeding from a deep cut to the femoral artery.
A tourniquet around the leg above the cut can stop the bleeding until emergency surgery can be done. However, if the tourniquet is left tightened for too long, it may even cause loss of the leg.
Hacks for business continuity may not be so dire to look at, but the problems they can potentially cause could lead to unforeseen and serious consequences. Common problems are:
- Undocumented workarounds, for which few or even no people know how or why the workarounds should work.
- Lack of testing or practice, especially when the workaround is an ad hoc solution that never found its way into the business continuity plan.
- Unrealistic workarounds, that do not solve the right problem, or are ineffective.
- Unsustainable workarounds, like our example above, where only temporary application can be considered.
- Degraded performance or quality of service, especially when a workaround is manual and siphons off valuable time and energy that should be used to create value or serve customers.
- Undesirable side effects, such as creating holes in information privacy or integrity.
In short, the business continuity hack may be all you have left in some business continuity situations, but you are strongly recommended to move to a permanent, tested, high-quality solution as soon as possible.