What happens if your department doesn’t make the savings? What if the ambitious efficiency targets turn out to be hopelessly unrealistic?

What if the savings plans turn out to be undeliverable? What if it’s all a lot messier, a lot more complicated and takes a lot more time than assumed? Do you have a plan B?

Of course you may not be around to deliver it since a plan B often starts with the sacking of the architect of plan A. The chances of survival, yours and the department’s, will be increased if there is a well worked out back up plan to be referred to at the same time as giving the bad news that plan A needs to be changed.

Unfortunately as this is likely to happen half way through the financial year, it is going to need to be pretty dramatic because it has a lot less time to be delivered.

Furthermore, who exactly should know about the existence of plan B?

The timing will be sensitive because if people get wind of it too early they will assume you have no confidence in the original plan, the plan you sold to the chief executive and members. If your staff get the idea you don’t think it is deliverable then it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On the other hand, of course, you don’t want to give the impression this is something cobbled together at the last minute to try and save your skin.

But plan B usually consists of the options in plan A that were discarded as too radical, too painful or politically unacceptable. As such it might well be in your head and not written down - allowing, for example, the head of communications to brief the media that there is no plan B.

Which might cause confusion when there’s a necessary and dramatic switch to it further down the line…