Prepare your business for Hurricane Sandy

The perfect storm is moving slowly up the eastern seaboard today.  All businesses within its path should be activating their business continuity plans or at least reviewing them.  Your business, even if it does not sustain direct damage from the storm, could be impacted by prolonged power failures. I have a few simple reminders to include on your list today.

  1. Check your back-up generator to ensure it has enough fuel to last you through three or four days
  2. Review with your staff any critical staffing requirements – provide clear instructions to those who are not required
  3. Gasoline – remind staff to fill up their vehicles and fill the tanks of the corporate fleet
  4. Communication is key – look into renting or purchasing a Satellite phone – the most reliable during a storm
  5. Meet with key incident response players remind them of their role in the incident
  6. Update your go bags and Emergency operations centre equipment (often things disappear over time)
  7. Use up or clear out perishable foods wherever possible

We do not often have days to prepare before an emergency. Take full advantage of it.

Improve your Business Continuity Strategies tip 5 – Be concise

These ten tips will hone your skills at devising business continuity strategies for your organization.

Tip# 5 Present concise and specific recommendations to senior management

Recommendations must include:

  • a gap analysis (where are we now)
  • clear  consequences for meeting continuity expectations (where will we be)
  • a basic project plan for implementing the recommended strategy (how to get there)
  • a risk assessment for your recommended strategy
  • budget estimates
  • resource requirements
  • an estimate of the implementation time

When making your presentation to senior management, be prepared to offer some real alternatives to your recommendations.   Ensure the agreed options are approved by the executive management.

Return Monday for our next tip on Business Continuity Strategies.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice One – Program Initiation and Management DRII Professional Practices  June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

Improve your Business Continuity Strategies tip 4 – Compare costs

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

These ten tips will hone your skills at devising business continuity strategies for your organization.

Tip# 4 Compare the cost ranges, as well as the relative merits, of implementing each strategy

Eliminate any methods that will not meet your BIA requirements. Decide on your top priorities (up front investment, annual fees, costs during event, time to implement, reliability, etc) and rate each strategy accordingly.

Understand current and future operational initiatives that could be linked to business continuity. Leverage new initiatives wherever possible. Be prepared to explain where and why any initiatives do not align with your business continuity strategy.

Return tomorrow for our next tip on Business Continuity Strategies.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice One – Program Initiation and Management DRII Professional Practices  June 1, 2012 Version 1)

Improve your Business Continuity Strategies tip 3 – Vital records

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

These ten tips will hone your skills at devising business continuity strategies for your organization.

Tip# 3 Ensure that you develop a comprehensive strategy for protecting vital records

Any business continuity strategy must include both electronic and paper vital records. These should have been defined by your organization during the BIA. Compile a list of all vital records within the scope of this plan. Understand your regulatory, statutory or business record retention requirements. Key issues to address are confidentiality, integrity, availability, currency of data and resumption speed. Ensure that senior management accepts the program for vital records retention. Develop system and data back up strategies that will meet the Return Point Objective from the BIA requirements for each critical system identified.

Return tomorrow for our next tip on Business Continuity Strategies.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice One – Program Initiation and Management DRII Professional Practices  June 1, 2012 Version 1)

Improve your Business Continuity Strategies tip 2 – Examine alternate strategies

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

Your program is now moving along smoothly. The risk evaluation and the business impact analysis (BIA) have produced valuable information and senior management has signed off on your recovery time and return point objectives.  Now you must establish how your organization will meet these objectives. These ten tips will hone your skills at devising business continuity strategies for your organization.

Tip # 2 Examine alternate strategies that could meet the BIA requirements

Prepare to make recommendations by reviewing the various types of recovery alternatives. Begin by examining the following traditional recovery methods:

  • Alternative site or business facility
  • Cold, Warm or Hot Sites
  • Drop Ship/Quick ship agreements
  • Manual Procedures
  • Mitigation
  • Mobile Trailer
  • Reciprocal agreements
  • Work from Home

This list is not exhaustive and your search should not be limited by it. Review internal assets for use in the recovery.  Search out external business resources using tactics such as Requests for Information (RFI), queries and professional organization reviews.  Validate your understanding with other business continuity professionals.

Discuss business continuity strategies with vendors that provide critical goods and services to your business. How do they plan to service you? Can you leverage their continuity strategies?

Return tomorrow for our next tip on Business Continuity Strategies.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice One – Program Initiation and Management DRII Professional Practices  June 1, 2012 Version 1)

Improve your Business Continuity Strategies tip 1 – All-hazards

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

Your program is now moving along smoothly. The risk evaluation and the business impact analysis (BIA) have produced valuable information and senior management has signed off on your recovery time and return point objectives.  Now you must establish how your organization will meet these objectives. These ten tips will hone your skills at devising business continuity strategies for your organization.

Tip# 1 Build strategies based upon the needs outlined in the BIA, not on a specific disaster

Building a continuity strategy based upon a specific scenario is often cited as a reason for the failure of planning.  The all-risk plan focuses on the possible effects of a disaster and uses the BIA data. Evaluate possible strategies that will meet minimum service levels, return point and return time objectives and rescue or restore critical resources. Ensure loss of people, of technology, of information and of the workplace are taken into consideration when developing the strategy. If there is an existing business continuity strategy, conduct a ‘gap analysis’ to identify where current performance is measured against the required performance as outlined in the BIA.

Return tomorrow for our next tip on Business Continuity Strategies.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice One – Program Initiation and Management DRII Professional Practices  June 1, 2012 Version 1)

Why should you use the Incident Management System within your Business Continuity plan?

Vanguard EMC and other business continuity management experts recommend the incident management system to their clients as part of business continuity planning. The incident management system or incident command system is a standardized approach to incident management that is scalable and flexible.

In the United States, all federal departments and agencies, and state and local governments are required to adopt the National Incident Management System.

As a Canadian organisation, why would you want to learn and apply this system to your organisation? Here are five reasons that your organization should look into IMS for BCP:

  1. It will provide structure and allows for control over the response and recovery environment
  2. It will provide senior management with a proven structure and method to manage significant interruption to the organization
  3. It will provide a framework for tracking the resources and cost directly related to the interruption
  4. It will provide common terminology between yourself and emergency responders
  5. It will address the disparity of communications between organizations and emergency management teams during an emergency

Vanguard EMC is offering free courses introducing you to the incident management system (ICS100). If you have already received this introduction and are ready to start applying IMS to your business continuity program, you will benefit from BCIMS200. This course will provide practical guidance on how to adopt the IMS/ICS for business continuity for business or government organisations.

Improve Your Business Impact Analysis tip 10 – Participant Review

These tips will help the business continuity management professional focus their efforts on collecting valid data from credible sources.

Tip #10 Give participants a chance to review your analysis of the BIA results before submission

Participants need to verify the report. With additional time to think, people may have changed their mind on key conclusions, information could have been misconstrued, or simply overlooked.

Do not publish the entire BIA report in the business continuity plan.  A prioritized list of your business functions should be available somewhere in your plan; typically an appendix.

A business continuity plan based on a poorly researched or a phantom BIA will not have any relevance to the way that your organization operates.  A strong and focused business impact analysis will provide the data needed to evaluate business continuity strategies and build a credible plan.

Return tomorrow for discussion on Business Continuity Planning and the Incident Management System.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice One – Program Initiation and Management DRII Professional Practices  June 1, 2012 Version 1)

Improve Your Business Impact Analysis tip 9 – Comprehensive Report

These tips will help the business continuity management professional focus their efforts on collecting valid data from credible sources.

Tip #9 Prepare a comprehensive report with recommendations

The goal of the report is to obtain Steering Committee and Executive approval of the Recovery Time Objectives, Recovery Point Objectives and Minimum Service Levels. Business Impact Analysis reports will include:

  • An executive summary of the data
  • The data examination method
  • The data’s purpose
  • An outline of the next steps in the process
  • A request for approval for the next business continuity planning phase

Without senior management agreement and approval of the recovery time objectives and return time objectives funding will not be available to meet the objectives.

Do not simply present a large spreadsheet. The report must present the information gathered in a logical, organized manner. State your conclusions clearly. The next steps in the project should flow naturally from these conclusions.

Finally, avoid speculation regarding the cost of recovery strategies at this stage.

Return Monday for our final tip on Business Impact Analysis (BIA).

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice One – Program Initiation and Management DRII Professional Practices  June 1, 2012 Version 1)

Improve Your Business Impact Analysis tip 8 – Understand client expectations

These tips will help the business continuity management professional focus their efforts on collecting valid data from credible sources.

Tip #8 Sound out key clients regarding their expectations

Performing according to clients expectations is important to maintaining their business long-term.  Local clients, who may be impacted by the same event, may have lower expectations than national or international clients. If the incident isn’t large enough to make national news, do not expect clients on the other side of the country to be sympathetic or patient! They will find another supplier quickly. Bringing clients back after they have been disappointed by your organization can be very difficult.

Some customers may have service level expectations built into their contracts.  Determine what would be the impact on your organization if these levels are not maintained. Having an inventory of these contractual obligations will help planners prioritize after a disruption.

Priority should be given to restoring functions were service disruption will cause clients the most pain. For example: a delay in the new release of a product will postpone revenue but not providing customer support could irrevocably damage your customer relationship.

You are part of a complicated supply chain.  The BIA should outline how your product or service fits in and what the repercussions of a disruption would be to your customers and their customers.

If your Risk Analysis has revealed that you depend upon a single client for much of your business, this client’s return time expectations must be well understood.  Depending upon the strength of your relationship with this client, you might want to meet with their continuity planner or risk manager or involve them in your BIA survey or interviews.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice One – Program Initiation and Management DRII Professional Practices  June 1, 2012 Version 1)

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