A bumpy landing

Blog post   •   Apr 23, 2013 08:55 BST

I've just finished doing one of those straightforward "I'll knock that off in a day or two" type jobs. It only took me seven days. Over a period of four and a half weeks. The last stint used up pretty much the whole of my weekend. As a result, I now have the backache from hell, serious hockey withdrawal symptoms and a bad case of boarder's knee. That's floorboarder's, rather than snowboarder's, knee by the way - I don't think they suffer particularly from sore knees, although most of them must suffer terrible frostbite of the derrière from all that sitting in the snow, but that's another story.

Anyway, the straightforward little job in question was replacing the floorboards on the landing at chez Oz. It's not as if it's a big landing or anything. Neither should it have been particularly tricky. Yes, there are a few corners and a couple of nooks and crannies but nothing particularly complicated, particularly for the seasoned DIY virtuoso I modestly consider myself to be.

No, the problem was that someone had been there before me. Several someones by the look of it. Our house is a hundred-and-something years old, so I sort of realised that some alterations had been done over the intervening years. In fact I've come across several examples of previous owners' "improvements" as we've worked our way through it making our own alterations - most of which slowed things down or bumped up the costs, or both. So why I thought this little job would be any different is beyond me.

I'll spare you the anoraky details - suffice it to say that most of the time was spent putting right someone else's efforts, which exercised my plumbing, electrical, joinery and metalwork skills as well as my general DIY ability. And my sanity.

I don't know about you, but in my experience it's all too often a similar story when updating someone else's business continuity plans. What should be a straightforward job turns into a monster undertaking because someone without the necessary skills or experience has had a go.

One of the most common findings is that the plans contain all sorts of "stuff" - anything and everything even vaguely related to business continuity that the well-meaning but inexperienced DIY-er could find and has enthusiastically, though somewhat misguidedly, pounced on in a frenzy of copying and pasting. The result is a document filled with all kinds of superfluous padding, from fire evacuation procedures to standard operating procedures to the contents of the yellow pages.

More important, however, is the usual accompanying lack of any proper analysis or strategy, let alone any training or awareness raising or exercising and testing. In other words, the business continuity equivalent of the useless and, in some cases, slightly dangerous contents of the void under my landing floorboards.

DIY can sometimes save money in the short term. Longer term, however, it can be quite costly to put right someone else's mistakes. There are, therefore, occasions when it's sensible to get some expert help rather than simply having a go yourself.

My next straightforward DIY job involves more floorboarding - this time the bathroom. Still, It's not a huge bathroom - I should be able to knock that off in two or three days tops!

Andy Osborne
Consultancy Director, Acumen
Author of Practical Business Continuity Management

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