Deal or No Deal: How Brexit Resilient is Your Organisation

Unsurprisingly, the Brexit process has left the business community in confusion.

Here Javier Colado, Senior Vice President of International Sales at Everbridge helps us understand the key elements of critical event management from manual processes and asset tracking through to geographically dispersed teams and employee productivity.

According to a story in the Financial Times, this stemmed in part from parliament’s approval of a law aimed at averting a no-deal Brexit on October 31, but since then the EU agreed to a further delay moving the leaving date to the end of January 2020. Understandably this raises questions about whether we will ever leave the EU.

The story also refers to an Institute of Directors poll of members about the best outcome.  A slim majority said a no-deal Brexit would be the most negative, but almost a third stated that further delay to the UK’s departure from the EU could have a worse impact.

The fact is that many businesses are not prepared, particularly for a ‘no deal’ scenario, and this means British organisations face serious layers of risk.

The primary concern in sectors like food retail, logistics and fashion relates to disruptions in the supply chain. After all, a business is only as robust as its weakest supply chain or service provider link.

The analysis of critical activities, critical resources and critical interdependencies is just the first step to managing events like Brexit – deal or no deal. The secret to success is being prepared in an automated way, and on that basis, more than two thirds of businesses are exposing themselves to risk.

Even at this point, with the UK’s exit from the EU looming ever closer, companies can put in place a staged plan that will help them manage logistical challenges, or internal issues such as IT failures. Rather than relying on traditional, and often outdated approaches, the most efficient way to do this is by deploying a Critical Event Management system which will help to automate the quickest and most effective response to any issues that arise.

The first step is to devise a plan which expands to cover the different types of crisis that could occur, mapped to the appropriate resources and response. Determine how the organisation will deal with each crisis and who will take the lead. An example might be if the company transports goods by road into the EU and is likely to face disruption at ports. What is the contingency plan, is it standardised and is it digitised so it can be quickly shared amongst stakeholders?

In order to bring together experience, insights and intelligence from across the organisation, it is vital to build strong alliances with leadership. This helps to gain a quick understanding of the root cause of a problem, so a coordinated response can be quickly realised and senior level decisions can be made rapidly. Being able to identify all stakeholders, not just decision-makers, will ensure everyone impacted is kept informed and all parties are working with a common operating plan.

In order to bring together experience, insights and intelligence from across the organisation, it is vital to build strong alliances with leadership.

Next, assess risks and sources of information. If a company is relying on just one channel to determine likely transport delays, for example, or a sudden rise in the cost of goods or tariffs, they will not be seeing the full picture. It is also essential to identify critical assets and functions in the business from people through to IT. How are they interconnected and what will it cost if they are impacted by an unexpected event or a crisis? Don’t underestimate the importance of brand – a storm of negative tweets can be more damaging than a physical attack on infrastructure.

Talking of IT, it is crucial to consider the safety of data. Not only do companies have a duty to protect it, but under the rules of GDPR, they may not be able to share that data for some time after Brexit if there is no deal, and agreements are not in place. Consideration should also be given to the difficulties that could be experienced in data transfer between the UK and EU, certainly in the early stages, and changes may need to be made to ensure it is stored in the UK in future. Any threat to the data, from breaches or cyber security attacks needs to be addressed now to ensure IT systems are protected and the full cost of downtime is assessed.

Finally, organisations must figure out what is the real threats are to their logistics operations and what are not. This will involve quantifying the overall vulnerability to the organisation and its exposure, and it may go beyond the immediate assets, people and elements that are affected.

With Brexit around the corner, the most sensible approach is to automate the above steps to prevent errors in workflows and to handle responses more quickly. By feeding information, based on an overall assessment of the situation, into a Critical Event Management system, a crisis plan can be quickly devised and executed. Formalising and consolidating an operational response will help to protect not just the company but also its supply chain, its people, its infrastructure and assets and its reputation, whether we leave with a deal, or without it.


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