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Tag Archives: chain of command

The RBS systems failure should become a case study in Business Continuity, but I doubt that it will as the bank won’t want to advertise how it managed to not only get something seriously wrong, but how it took so long to fix and what it really cost. Every Business Continuity professional should be interested in this so that they can learn from any mistakes that were made, and see how Business Continuity Plans were used in response to a real disruption.

The first thing that I’m interested in though, is whether or not RBS activated its strategic level Business Continuity Plan, which may be known as an Incident or Crisis Management Plan. Presuming that RBS has such a plan, was it used, or did a group of senior executives just get together and decide what to do without reference to the plan?

Secondly, did the person who first identified that a software upgrade had gone wrong just try and fix it, or did they also escalate the issue up the management chain of command? If so, did it get to the top quickly, or did it stay hidden until the effect of the problem became widely known?

Being a UK taxpayer, I’m a shareholder in RBS. As a shareholder, I’d like RBS to undertake a thorough post incident review and publish the results so that we can all learn from what went wrong.


Here’s another new idea for business continuity that’s come from a business continuity course that I’m giving. Instead of just having control and escalation procedures to enable communication up and down the chain of command, why not have a special group sitting alongside the strategic, tactical, and operational teams that has the sole job of handling information up and down the command chain?

This group doesn’t replace the┬áchain of command, it supplements it, making sure that information is getting to the right people in a timely manner. I’ve never thought of this before, but it might be something that’s in common practice elsewhere. If it is, does it work, or does it actually start to replace the┬áchain of command and put all communication in the hands of a small group of people? The danger then, of course, is that they become a bottleneck and slow down the flow of vital information. There is also the danger that they could start to censor information, taking on themselves the role of deciding who should get which information.