Continuity planning requires ongoing vigilence, experts say

Published 18 October 2006

Smart procedures are not enough; companies must constantly reevaluate and upgrade their systems; dedicated middle management and emergency drills are good approaches; many companies create emergency response teams to handle the load

There is a difference between preparing and being prepared, and no where is that more clear than in business continuity planning. Too often, we and others have observed, a company makes a tremendous investment in continuity only to rest on its laurels afterwards, believing that having bought the remote data storage and signed vendor redundancy agreements, the work is completed. Not so. Effective business continuity demands ongoing vigilence, testing, and reevaluation. Hiring a middle manager to focus on the issue is just one practical step companies can take to stay on top of things.

We test [disaster recovery plans] frequently through tabletop exercises that involve a potential scenario,” said Mark Schussel of Chubb Group insurance. “We bring together our crisis incident management team and others to work through a drill, evaluate the drill, [and] then we put new policies and procedures into place.” Companies can also benefit from low-key disasters such as burst pipes and earthquakes to test their procedures in a live fiire environment, especially if they have wisely created employee-staffed emergency operations teams.

At Fidelity Investments, for instance, such teams played a critical role in keeeping the firm on its feet after 9/11 by quickly lining up remote access systems and alternative work spaces. “When a crisis hits, these people swing into action, joining forces with our security, risk, human resources, employee communications and other support groups to ensure the security of Fidelity people and assets, as well as that of our customers’ accounts and their continuing ability to do business with us,” said Vin Loporchio, a Fidelity spokesman.

-read more in Kelly Shermach’s CRM News report