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Corporate Contingency Planning

Part 1

A few weeks ago I attended a seminar sponsored by Independent Solutions Insurance Inc (Edmonton) entitled "Seminar On Disaster Preparedness", during this seminar I heard stories from individual company owners who told us of their misfortunes and how they coped with their crisis. In both cases these crisis were caused by accident, however, a potential catastrophe nonetheless. These individuals told their stories about how they had to deal with their traumas from onset through to completion. From listening to these stories, it quickly became clear to me that there were similarities; was their insurance coverage adequate, how long could their companies survive, without being operational, do they have adequate funding to start operations again, could they find suitable temporary business accommodations, employee morale and retention to name but a few.

It is clear to most entrepreneurs that starting any new business involves risk and risk is one of the reasons, many of us are entrepreneurs. There is a certain thrill in taking the gamble and making a business work. Many entrepreneurs however, do not consider instituting measures to manage the inherent risk of doing business. While taking a risk and winning is fun, prudent business owners take care to minimize their risk, just as you would in any other type of business venture in which you are involved. We call this being "risk intelligent"; one needs to have a continuous process of analysis and communication as an integral part of any business.

So, What Are The Risks

Every day we are exposed to many risks which can cause a financial loss. Fraud, Accidents, property damage, illness and death are all risks we have to consider. However, other risks, such as the possibility of being sued or becoming disabled and unable to work, are also important. We each have to decide how we will protect our vital assets should a risk become a reality.

RISK; is anything that threatens the ability of a corporation to accomplish it's mission. A corporations mission is to earn profits by selling it's products and services.

What Can Be Done

Appropriate contingency planning strategies protect against catastrophic losses, regardless of the cause. A company needs to adopt a risk aware culture, identify their risks and put in place a plan which will mitigate their losses. This plan needs to incorporate the entire risks of the organization, separating your external risks from your internal exposures. This process can be achieved by completing a risk threat analysis which basically outlines your assets and the threats posed against these assets. A more comprehensive analysis can be obtained by hiring a professional consultant who can guide your through the process and assist in the education of staff and preparedness of your organization. A basic analysis will break down your company into four parts; people assets, property assets, income assets and goodwill. Once we have identified the risks posed against these assets, we can then begin to formulate a plan of action which will deal with the risks identified and have that plan written into the companies policies and procedures in order that all members of the company can familiarize themselves with their individual responsibilities.

In the event a disaster takes place and you have failed to plan, you are planning to fail in the management of a disaster, the consequence of your actions could be catastrophic to your organization. Ottawa's commitment to fighting white collar criminals and unnecessary corporate failures, introduced the Westray Bill. This bill is designed to protect organizations from fraud and the negligent acts of owners, directors and managers. Watch out for part 2 of this series of articles when we look at a risk analysis in greater detail and discuss some basic internal controls. Future articles will include topics relating to corporate occupational fraud, preventing industrial espionage, money laundering, corporate security in the millennium and investigating corporate thefts.

Marwen's Contingency Planning; is a discipline that enables people and organizations to cope with uncertainty by taking steps to protect it's vital assets and resources. We recommend, just as you would walk around your car checking for defects, occasionally you should do the same with your business.

Martin Maylor, Director of Marwen Consulting Group Inc., a corporate security consultancy based in the Edmonton area, who has been working with corporations for over 15 years assisting them in understanding the risks of doing business, corporate occupational fraud, who commits fraud, why fraud is committed and what a company can do to harden their defenses. Mr Maylor is a frequent speaker at business groups, associations and can be reached at m.maylor@marwen.ca, http://www.marwen.ca or 780 4978245.

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