In some areas of the world, contingency planning is all about having a Plan B for those natural disasters that might occur, but the reality, as you will see from any project manager course, is that you need to make contingency plans for everything if you want to ensure that you are covered should the worst happen.
Conduct a risk assessment
- Identify your business-critical operations – This is any key functions and processes that your organisation cannot work without – these might include your supply chain or your internet connection.
- Identify the threats – these are the things that have the potential to harm each of your critical operations for example loosing key members of staff or technical failures
Once you start there is a good chance that you will end up with a long list of possible threats, you may not be able to make a contingency plan for them all so you should try and prioritise your list using your project management skills.
Probability charts for risk impact are a good way of doing this. They will help you to look at the risk that you might get from each problem and also to work out how likely they are to happen. Things that should be at the top of your list are the things that are essential to the survival of your project.
What should a contingency plan cover?
A good contingency plan is one that could prevent your project from being a failure when those unexpected events do occur, so it is important to ensure that it is suitable. There are a few things you should consider:
Take a look at your probability charts for risk impact and consider which is the most damaging scenario you need to plan for. Then create a plan what might happen in each instance. Make sure the range of scenarios is broad, so you cover everything.
These are the things that will require you to put your plan into action. It is possible you might have an event with many triggers, and each of these will trigger a different element of your plan.
Include details of what your strategy will be in response to an event, this will give you the context for any actions you will need people to follow.
Who will you notify?
Make sure you identify the people who will need to be informed of what is going on, this could be employees, suppliers, even the general public. Make sure you look at how you will communicate with them during this time. Legal obligations may form part of this procedure and you will need a note of which authorities you might need to inform. You will need to identify who is responsible for each part of the plan as well.
A good contingency plan will also note when each stage will need to take place and in what order.