Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Back to Business: Business Continuity Planning Is Key to Recovering from Disaster. (Power Up: Special Technology Section)

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Back to Business: Business Continuity Planning Is Key to Recovering from Disaster. (Power Up: Special Technology Section)

Article excerpt

Your company has been devastated by disaster. Will it take hours, days, weeks or months to recover?

Disasters don't come with advance press releases. They occur without notice, making the need for disaster planning ever more critical. The unexpected events of last September 11, helped cure the "it won't happen to me" syndrome adopted by many business organizations. Prior to last year's tragedy, disaster recovery plans sat on shelves collecting dust and business continuity programs were listed at the bottom of corporate agendas, if at all.

That is no longer the case. Business continuity has taken on a whole new meaning. Organizations learned business continuity involved more than just reloading software onto a server. It also included locating entire staffs, ensuring everyone was okay, locating new equipment and securing alternate office space.

Planning for Recovery

Today, business continuity planning (BCP) can be better defined as the advanced planning and preparations necessary to identify the impact of potential loss; formulate and implement viable recovery plans ensuring continuity of services; and administering a comprehensive training, testing and maintenance program.

As Pat Moore, vice president of business continuity education for Strohl Systems, said, "BCP is what companies and organizations do to stay in business."

While senior managers today understand business continuity planning is part of doing business, many organizations continue to have difficulty addressing it when determining the proper scope, risks, costs and the return.

The business loss from service outages continues to grow rapidly. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, of those companies experiencing major service outages, only six percent survive long term, 43 percent never resume business and 51 percent shut down within two years.

A new study of Fortune 1000 CFOs, treasurers and risk managers across a broad range of industries reveals more than 50 percent say their companies are not well-prepared to recover from a "major disruption to their top earnings driver," and less than 25 percent of respondents believe their current contingency planning efforts are adequate. The "Protecting Value Study" conducted by FM Global, the National Association of Corporate Treasurers and management consulting firm Sherbrooke Partners also revealed more than 75 percent of the nearly 200 respondents indicated such a disruption either would cause sustained impact to their firm's earnings or threaten their business continuity.

"It is a mistake to overlook or underappreciate the value of good risk management efforts," said Ruud H. Bosman, EVP of staff operations and planning at FM Global. "The results of this study indicate there are real, ongoing property hazards affecting a company's top earnings drivers."

Many companies have disaster recovery plans, but few plan for weeks of disruption, as happened in lower Manhattan when the World Trade Center was destroyed. As described in the IREM[R] Foundation's Preparing for Terrorism: A Property Manager's Guide, DeepBridge Content Solutions, an Internet content consultant, was displaced on September 11. In an October 2001 white paper, DeepBridge reported the biggest challenge came from a flaw in their own emergency plan: They never expected to be our of their building for as long as they were, and they were overly optimistic about how quickly things would get back to normal.

Communication is Key

When a disaster strikes, communicating with employees, clients and suppliers is critical. Companies should establish emergency meeting places where all displaced personnel can regroup following a disaster. This allows companies to quickly identify missing employees and to assemble a continuity team. Organizations also need to plan for logistics such as transportation, meals, hotels and payroll.

In some unfortunate cases, employees may be killed or injured in an attack. …

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