Saturday, 19 January 2013

Does it snow in winter?

Spotted this tweet tonight (Friday):
Belfast City Airport has run out of de-icer. Flights ready to take off (inc. mine) cancelled. Could not make this up (@C4Ciaran)
Now I commute in and out of George Best Belfast City Airport (incidentally renamed in honour of someone who went to my, now closed, school). Indeed I came home through it last night.

It only started to snow in Belfast this afternoon and we haven't seen temperatures much below freezing over the last few months. Having said that, Christmas 2010 saw our generally wet little country brought to a standstill when temperatures plummeted below -14 and we had a water shortage. Believe it or not we had to have bottled water shipped in from Scotland! That may well have been a Black Swan event, but it does suggest that sometimes there's a need for a 'wooly pully' here!

We have had days of forecasts predicting heavy snow. On Thursday train commuters in London were told to expect delays the next day due to snow - as someone else said, if you know there's snow coming instead of warning of delays, plan to avoid the delays.

Had I been trying to get home today (Friday) I would have gone ballistic learning that all flights were cancelled due to insufficient de-icer. Those trying to get home for the weekend are unlikely to have been impressed. I suspect that there will be some calls for compensation but was this an unforeseeable and uncontrollable event? Unpredictability seems unbelievable. Who will be personally accountable for the lack of a customer focus?

This debacle may not be of the same scale as the West Coast Rail Franchise, the impact of suppliers opting to see some of their High Street business channels go bust rather than provide a lifeline, or even the appearance of horse meat in burgers but it is the same diagnosis: poor procurement risk management.

I suspect the top team at George Best Belfast City Airport will have procurement on the agenda next Monday, unfortunately for the wrong reasons. Is procurement strategic? Yes. Is procurement a major risk? Yes.

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