The Middle East Turmoil: A New Perspective for BCM? (Part I)

Another 2 parter…

The turmoil in theMiddle Eastdoesn’t seem to be abating any time soon.  In fact, it seems every couple of weeks a different country begins its newly found desire for more freedoms and political reform.  The tragic deaths of civilians aside, the situation got me thinking of what it will mean for corporations and companies that do business in or with others in the Middle Eastern region. 

With political reform will come economic reforms as new leaders begin to flex their muscle and move away from the old guard; the old way of doing things.  This can impose allot of change onto organization but as good BCM/DR professionals – and business people – there are some new factors at play we may not have considered before.  This is solely due to the fact that for years things had stayed ‘status quo’ but since that isn’t the case for many countries now, the ‘status quo’ isn’t good enough.  We DR/BCM professionals must change out thinking from locally focused risks and changes to an international focus. 

As the world gets smaller (not physically of course), through business relationships and communications, our outlook in developing DR/BCM plans must get bigger.  No longer can we focus on single sites or even multiple sites in a geographical area but begin to expand out thinking to encompass other areas; areas our business partners reside or areas where our supplies are manufactures/shipped. 

I decided to capture some of my initial thoughts, as I was watching some video footage ofYemen’s population continue to demonstrate and struggle to crawl out from under their long time oppressive leader (good ol’ YouTube).  The following are just some high-level ideas that I jotted down, as I was watching. 

  1. New Competition – If your organization did business in a country that didn’t have much competition prior to any unrest (and resulting reforms), you may find yourself suddenly confronted with competition you didn’t know you had.  This could be a result of people now having the freedom to start enterprises and work against you.  As a DR/BCM (or risk professional) you’re going to have to think about this; what was once an easy market is now going to change and you’ve got to adapt.  
  2. New Vendors – Like above, new vendors could pop up all over the place and in various industries but it might be to your advantage in this situation.  If you dealt with a single supplier/manufacturer previously, you may now be able to investigate other opportunities to reduce costs because there are alternatives that weren’t present before.  You might be able to review your supply chains and see you can make changes. 
  3. Supply Chain Links Extensions – With new administrations – especially after years of oppression – there may be new suppliers and vendors involved in business.  What I mean is that you may have only had to deal with 3 vendors to deliver parts to your factory but now that there is a new administration in place, you may need to deal with a specific vendor regardless of any circumstances; it could be imposed on you.  Thus, your supply chain may have had 3 links but now you have to add a forth and increase your vulnerability to supply chain disruptions and other risks. 
  4. Supply Chain Link Breaks – This is the opposite of above and can be just as impacting to your operations.  You could have dealt with 3 vendors to get your parts and services but now there are only 2 or even 1 – due to the demise of a corporation being closely related to the previous administration.  This could cause an increase in costs and delays in delivery, as the remaining vendors organize themselves to meet the new dynamic – not just you adjusting to the new dynamic. 
  5. Re-Organization Confusion – Let alone the turmoil in theMiddle East, this same frustration is felt everywhere.  When there is a change – in community leaders, vendors, administrations etc – sometimes its hard to know who the ‘new person’ is in charge.  You may be placing orders with a specific person/vendor/partner only to find that that person doesn’t have the authority anymore or that the role has been moved to someone else.  This happens a lot with organizational change (within your own corporation) but can you imagine what it would be like when an entire country changes?  Confusion will abound because many individuals won’t know exactly here all the pieces of the puzzle will fall – hopefully a picture in your favour. 
  6. New Work / Non-Work Days – This might seem like a strange one but from personal experience, it can happen.  In the province of Ontario, a new holiday was introduced in the month of February to allow all residents a day off between New Year’s and Easter.  When introduced businesses all over (including Financial Institutions) had to make allot of adjustments to systems and processes to identify the date as a holiday (for the record it’s the 3rd Monday in February).  What if one of the countries introduced a new day – or few days – to their holiday schedule.  It may not be a holiday for you but it may have impact upon you and your operations depending on the nature of your business.  Consider what to do when a day (or more) of business drops out of your operations.  Does it stop you from operating or does it just slightly irritate you?  You’ll have to discover this for your organization because it could be a busy day for you.

Thus end Part I. 

Part II will be in a few days.

 **NOW AVAILABLE**

 “Heads in the Sand: What Stops Corporations From Seeing Business Continuity as a Social Responsibility” and “Made Again Volume 1 – Practical Advice for Business Continuity Programs”

by StoneRoad founder, A.Alex Fullick, MBCI, CBCP, CBRA, ITILv3

Available at www.stone-road.com, www.amazon.com & www.volumesdirect.com

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