BCPs for Volcanic Ash, Falling Satellites, Comets and Asteroids?

We’re back!  Unfortunately, I was unable to access WordPress to post any blogs while in China.  The site was blocked, as was the StoneRoad Facebook page.  But now that I’m back, I can again post thoughts and comments on all things BCM.  Enjoy!

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            I’ve heard some interesting comments lately after the Iceland volcano and the one down in Honduras.  While attending the TIEMS conference in Beijing this week, I’ve heard people speak about needing continuity plans that address all sorts of situations and I don’t mean incorporating it into existing plans but creating all new ones.

            Creating new plans to address specific situations is what happened around the Y2K timeframe and it’s what happened around the recent H1N1 pandemic outbreaks.  Different groups began to recreate the wheel and decided that each situation was to have its own plan but this is just silly in thinking.  Who could come up with so many plans and if anyone could – how would you keep them updated and maintained.  YIKES!!

            Some of the things I was hearing was that there should be plans for even larger situation such as a asteroids and what not.  The last time I heard about a major asteroid hitting the earth was that the resulting impact killed the dinosaurs – or at least that’s one of the theories around anyway.  I’m not sure what plan I’d put in place for that kind of disaster.  On that scale I don’t think I’d worry too much about my business, I’d be too worried about myself, friends, loved ones and family.  I don’t’ care about my corporation continuing – well, not too much anyway – as I would about my own personal survival and my families survival.

            I did have an interesting conversation with a gentleman from Belgium one morning over breakfast and he was kind of saying the same thing.  However, I did mention to him that any disaster has the potential to hit/impact three key things; people, places (or facilities) and things (most commonly known as technology).  You can spread that one step further and add a fourth component which would be that of suppliers, vendors or partners because they all have their own people, places and things. 

            Even using the asteroid example I was able to tell him that if you had plans that addressed these four components (I’ll use the fourth component going forward) you can then be able to deal with any situation put further – well, without the world blowing up that is. 

            The asteroid is just another trigger for some of these plans.  If you have a corporation that has a plan to deal with employee availability, then whatever causes the employees to be unavailable will be addressed (or should be).  The situation should be the trigger to activate plans, not the situation with which the plan is build around.  Again, you could hundreds if not thousands of plans that way. 

            In a people availability plan you may have a list of options or contingency strategies that are available to you should you be short 25% of your workforce, so not matter what causes the 25% to be lost, you should be able to find what strategy(s) (among the list) that can be implemented. 

            Sure, some situations may call for some additional work to be done on measures to be implemented.  A pandemic situation may require some Human Resource plans to be implemented but then again, some of these should already be in place when other situations or disasters occur, not just a pandemic situation.

            It was hard to get this person to see this but eventually he understood.  You can build and add to plans but to have one specific to a situation would cause repetition and cause confusion for corporations.  I mean, a disaster can be multi-facetted.  Can you imagine trying to find the right plans to address the current situation when you’ve got hundreds of them?  It would take forever.  However, if you have the four I mentioned, you could probably be able to find what you needed much easily and be able to manage the situation (assuming you have the communication and other BCM aspects in place). 

            I had to agree with him though, that in the last few years we’ve had some big situations to contend with; Tsunami’s, numerous earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and more and more terrorist actions.  To be honest, part of me isn’t sure if the number of these incidents have been on the increase of if it’s just that we hear about them due to the easier information access.  I’m sure that the sheer number of situation we’ve known about is what drives the desire for corporations to have plans to deal with them.  However, review what you have first and build upon that before starting all over again to create a plan to deal with a specific situation. 

            So, do we really need plans to deal with asteroids, comets and more volcanic eruptions or do we take what we have and build upon the learning’s from these types of situation.  Though granted, after a large asteroid or comet hitting the earth, we may not need a plan to build our operations but a plan to rebuild humanity and I’m not sure they teach a class on that — so how am I supposed to build a plan for that one?

**NOW AVAILABLE**

The new book by StoneRoad founder, A.Alex Fullick, MBCI, CBCP, CBRA, ITILv3, “Heads in the Sand: What Stops Corporations From Seeing Business Continuity as a Social Responsibility.”  Available at www.stone-road.com **

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