November 22, 2010 | Barb Carr

Are System Failures Avoidable or An Acceptable Risk?

(Editor’s Note:  This is reprinted with permission from our partners in the UK, Matrix Risk Control.)

We doubt whether you will have missed the HMS Astute incident off Skye where the Royal Navy’s newest, largest and “stealthiest” submarine grounded in shallow waters. A huge embarrassment for the Royal Navy and one that should be easily avoided considering the area is well used and marked both on charts and with red and green buoys. There will be an investigation and we may hear of the cause which will most likely be a series of “system failures” that may include inexperience, lack of training, change of watch, lack of equipment/resources or even technical and/or human error. It is surprising that an incident like this can happen (and it is not the first) considering all the training the military undertake. Could a series of system failures cause a major incident in your line of business?

Recently the BBC Watchdog programme covered the story of an Airparks customer whose car had been hired out after he left it with them whilst he went on holiday! Airparks advised that a serious of “highly unusual system failures” led to the car being mistakenly identified as a hire car. We understand the “highly unusual” included them letting a section of their parking out to a hire car agency – perhaps unusual but as they knew about the hire car company using their car park, they should have identified the risk and adjusted their system to ensure it did not happen.

System Failures – avoidable or an acceptable risk?

Having procedures and processes in place is the first step in ensuring things run smoothly but how often should you “test” your procedures, how robust are they and how do the Directing Minds know they are being followed? Exercise and test, record and react is the simplest and most effective manner to reduce the risk of your systems failing.

Matrix Risk Control can help you Exercise and Test your systems “Just In Case” there is a chance of failure. Contact us on +44 (0) 7793 846567 to see how we can help.

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