As Africa’s premier integrator of business continuity services, ContinuitySA’s team spends a lot of time identifying risks and how to mitigate them.
The first order of business is to understand the true nature of the risk—only then can we truly mitigate it. Consequently, we are advising all companies to undertake a thorough review of their business continuity plans—this will provide a structure through which to understand the impact of load-shedding on a particular business, what the company’s risk appetite is and thus what plans should be put in place.
Because electricity is integral to a modern society, load-shedding creates a complex and interdependent set of risks over and above the primary risk of the company’s being unable to trade. These risks need to be understood within the context of each business’s strategic plan.
Some of the wider risks are:
Impact on employees. Regular and extended outages will disturb family life in all sorts of ways, from transport difficulties to care of children and elderly relatives. Employers need to understand the impact on absenteeism and be empathetic to employees’ personal challenges.
Impact on vital services. Power outages are likely to affect water supplies periodically and also telecommunications. Businesses can solve the water issue relatively easily by installing their own gravity-fed tanks that act as an emergency store replenished by the municipal water supply. More serious, however, extended power outages could be more than battery backups at some telecommunications sub-stations can cope with, leading to interruptions in communications. In particular, the impact of load-shedding on ICT disaster recovery should not be ignored.
Impact on the supply chain. Power outages in other areas will not only affect your employees’ ability to get to work, but also the operations of suppliers and clients. Today’s supply chains are both long and complex, and many companies use just-in-time inventory systems. It’s thus imperative that companies understand the impact that load-shedding has on suppliers’ ability to meet their commitments, and what any defaults will have on their own operations. ContinuitySA believes that companies need visibility of their suppliers’ business continuity plans, and also to understand the impact that load-shedding could have on their clients’ demand (and ability to pay) for their services. For more, read Make 2015 the year for becoming resilient and also Outsourcing: Know your partners’ business continuity plans.
Next time, more on the less-obvious impacts of load-shedding.