Is your life’s research—your company’s treasured discovery or drug seed stock—safe? As we have seen over the last few years, natural and man made disasters can put your material at risk. Risk mitigation is being implemented in business plans: Executives are working to prevent interruptions that can bring organizations to their knees. Most of these risk mitigation measures involve infrastructure. In his recent blog post and eBook, "Defense in Depth: Off-Site Storage of Biological and Biopharmaceuticals for Risk Mitigation", Bruce Simpson, Director of Commercial Operations, discussed managing the risk of business operations and importance of it in day to day management.
I want to pose this question to the community and have the opportunity to share ideas that provide solutions if bad things happen. However, lets not just talk about the hard structural measures, but about the soft measures, such as employee engagement, that organizations deal with on a daily basis. Here are five questions you should ask yourself about risk mitigation.
- What would be the best solution for the problem? Organizations need to ask themselves which option is best , whether its outsourcing, placing material in your own alternate locations, buying additional equipment, or hiring staff to manage risk on-site.
- How much is enough to cover the possibility of losing materials? Leadership needs to determine how much cash they will need to cover differing levels of materials lost. As the old adage by Benjamin Franklin says “fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” With material values increasing dramatically, is your management really aware of the financial risk?
- Are you checking in regularly to be sure your employees know the ultimate goal? People talk about how employees know the mission statement and understand the principles, but do they really? We have seen over the years that while the structures may look fine, when you dig deeper it may be just a façade of activities based on check marks. Consider, for example, the TSA, who is charged with a task that is extremely important. The skies are arguably safer, at a cost of high public frustration and about $60 billion over the last 12 years. Are the TSA employees you encounter intelligently focused on safety or going through the motions? Are your employees doing the same?
- Are your employees engaged all the time or some of the time? Organizations are still leaving a lot to chance when valuable material is not safeguarded through redundancy. Are your safeguards dependent on your people being 100 percent reliable?
- Are the people you have in key parts of the business engaged? Employees should have an understanding that if there is a glitch, not only does it cost the company money, but brings a group of people to their knees. An example is a trial that is not recruiting enough clinical sites quickly but wants to move the trial to meet goals within a specific time frame. The individuals should understand that they are tasked with recruiting and working with the sites to insure needs are met and provide quality. We need to engage with the people who pack out boxes of material in addition to the project leader that is charged with meeting goals.
Does everyone from the beginning, through the middle, to the end product know the milestones and understand that they control its success? Using the technologies at our fingers, we run the constant risk of only a part of the project succeeding while other parts of the project just go through the motions. We need to plan for problems and build in redundancy to manage risk not only from lost infrastructure but also from employees who may simply be having a bad day.
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