How to Prepare for the U.K.'s Uncertain Brexit Terms

December 19, 2018

Contributor: Jill Beadle

Why organizations and governments must prepare now for Brexit, despite lacking a formal, agreed upon exit agreement between the U.K. and the EU.

In less than 100 days — on March 29, 2019 — the U.K. is due to leave the European Union (EU). The specifics of its exit remain in question, but organizations and governments can’t afford to wait until the specifics of the breakup are clear. They need to plan for potential disruptions and opportunities now. Those that do will be better able to ensure minimal disruptions — regardless of the final position. Gartner recommends several ways to prepare, whether you’re in IT, HR, supply chain or legal.

Where do you start?

Create a cross-functional, Brexit planning working group, if you haven’t already. This cross-functional approach emerged as a clear need in the recent Gartner “snap poll” of 267 risk, audit and compliance leaders at large enterprises. Forty-nine percent have already put one of these working groups in place. Be sure your working group includes representatives from HR, IT, legal, risk and supply chain, as the most acute impacts will be felt in these areas. Also:

  • Establish committees for specific activities, such as IT and supply chain responses.
  • Find unknown exposures by conducting risk assessments and impact analyses as well as mapping your supply chain.
  • Regularly check relevant EU and U.K. government preparedness notices.
  • Communicate to employees and customers what you are doing about Brexit and determine whether more channels or resources are needed to smooth their experience.
  • Engage your service providers to determine their plans for supporting you during this period.

To increase the efficacy of your enterprise planning — and boost confidence in your preparedness — take deliberate steps to avoid the pitfalls that commonly undermine results.

Establish cross-functional working groups

  • Use diverse selection criteria, such as scope of work, degree of geographic impact and level of decision making required. Don’t just select group members based on seniority.
  • Use the urgency of issues to set meeting schedules and determine the degree of collaboration required rather than sticking to an arbitrary meeting cadence.
  • Clarify accountability of group members at the project level and avoid vague definitions of roles and responsibilities.

Analyze Brexit’s business impact

  • Ensure that analysis goes through several rounds of testing with the business before arriving at a final report to provide the requisite depth and relevance.
  • Have an executive sponsor or steering committee act as an objective judge to provide a balanced view of the criticality of issues.
  • Involve all functions and external partners to ensure that data and risks are accounted for correctly.

Building out a Brexit plan able to satisfy both EU and U.K. political dynamics was never going to be easy. Last week’s events signaled just how difficult the challenge is, as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May deferred Parliament’s planned vote on her negotiated agreement with the EU.

Employ a realistic scenario analysis

  • Create your scenario based on an event, not financial sensitivity.
  • Limit the number of variables to a small high-impact, interconnected group.
  • Narrow the ranges for your variables through iterative testing with the business.

Properly utilize risk workshops

  • Spur new thinking by inviting subject matter experts, younger, high-potential employees or others closer to the front line to ensure diverse thinking.
  • Decide workshop structure, duration and agenda based on its purpose, ensuring that the agenda stays on track.
  • Build conversation management competencies or bring in a third-party facilitator to ensure that interactions are as productive as possible.

In addition to overall enterprise planning, executives responsible for addressing high-impact issue areas need to take more specific action, notably IT, HR and supply chain. These actions will help build resilience, giving you and your organization the ability to act confidently, no matter which scenario unfolds.

Read more: 8 Ways CIOs Can Prepare for the Brexit Impact

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