The future is unpredictable; no one can predict the effect of external events, unforeseen circumstances, or market conditions on a business. But by developing an effective contingency plan, the companies can prepare well in advance for events beyond their control.
A contingency plan in project management also referred to as a continuity plan or Plan ‘B’, is a course of action designed to allow the organization to stay prepared for any adverse situation and respond effectively to any future event. Contingency includes fires, earthquakes, violence, floods, and any other external, political or financial situation that may affect the operations of a business.
What does a contingency plan cover?
The type of a contingency plan in project management depends upon the nature of the business and its location. The most basic contingency plan covers the market and financial aspects of a business. And an in-depth plan covers the areas that come first for cuts, where costs can be reduced drastically and where extra employees can be terminated to immediately save the expenses of the rebuilding phase.
What is the purpose of a contingency plan?
The main purpose of a contingency plan in project management is to help an organization maintain its operations or get back to its operations quickly and easily after an unforeseen occurrence. Therefore, a contingency plan is imperative, irrespective of the nature of your business. Below are some main purposes of having a contingency plan for your organization:
- Better preparation:
It’s possible to protect your organization from several risky scenarios through preemptive and efficient planning. For example, there is a possibility to lose the on-premise data backup in a fire. But you can be prepared if you have a contingency plan like taking the backup of your data in the cloud.
- Quicker solution:
A business responds quickly to unfavorable situations if they have a contingency plan in project management. This helps them to overcome the problem without much damage to their regular operations.
- To prevent panic:
More than the danger, what causes more panic and disaster is the feeling that there is no solution. However, if you have contingency plans, everyone in the organization knows that a plan of action is there to quickly overcome the situation. This allows fast recovery even in the worst cases, thus, also bringing down the panic.
- To minimize losses:
In case of any disruption, whether a power outage, natural disaster, or even shifting of office space, a contingency plan can help the business minimize the losses in production and sales. The major difference between a business that collapses in disaster and the one that survives is the plans that allow them to get their production back on track even after any unforeseen circumstances.
An example of a contingency can be anything, from a technical disaster such as data loss to a natural one, such as hurricanes, droughts, and floods that need a contingency plan. Many other contingency examples include market crashes, crises, data breaches, temporary inflation of labor or material prices, mismanagement, personnel problems, product issues, worksite accident, technical and logistical issues, financial shortfalls, and so on.
How do you write a contingency plan example?
- Identify the risks:
For what disasters you are preparing for is important to know before you preparing for it. So, start by thinking about every possible risk that your organization may face. This may include natural disasters, security threats, or sudden changes to personnel or revenue.
It’s better to involve individuals from different teams or departments to cover the risks that might come to the whole organization and not only your department.
- Prioritizing the risk:
Firstly, you need to determine the risks that are most likely to occur in your organization. As we know, every business is unique in its own way, so there is no single plan that will fit all businesses. Instead, you need to make the plan based on the nature and requirements of your business. Start by answering the questions below before writing a contingency plan:
What may happen?
What to do in response to the problem?
What can be done to prepare in advance?
While writing and developing a contingency plan, make sure to spend both resources and time to prepare for the events that have a high possibility of occurring. For example, if you have earthquakes listed as a possible risk but your area doesn’t have many instances of earthquakes, then spending all your time to prepare for it is not required. But if you have a flood-prone area, you should prioritize the risk and spend more resources to prepare for floods.
- Write contingency plan:
After creating a prioritized list, you need to develop a plan for mitigating those risks. Include a step-by-step guide and visuals in your contingency plan that outlines the things to do when the event happens and how to still keep your organization running in that situation. Also, include a list of people from both outsides and inside the organization to contact if any event occurs.
You can also list out ways to minimize the risk from those events and start to act on it now.
- Ensure maintaining the plan:
The process doesn’t stop even after you have prepared a contingency plan. You need to communicate the contingency plan to everyone in the organization who might have the potential to get affected. Their roles and responsibilities during the time of crisis also need to be described to them.
Also, review the plan from time to time as any technological, operational, and personnel changes can make your plan inefficient. So, you regularly need to make the necessary changes.
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