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Did You Know That...

1948 years ago in AD 63 an earthquake in southern Italy by the gulf of Naples seriously damaged the ancient city of Pompeii causing an undetermined number of deaths and spread out destruction, but the locals went to work rebuilding in the same spot until they were buried by the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano 16 years later in AD 79.

Galveston TX Hurricanes

Average Brushed or hit every 2.94 years
Average Direct hit every 8.63 years

The Great Storm of 1900 - Sep 8th 1900 - Pop: 42,000 residents
Category 4 @ 135 mph -Great loss of life between 6,000 and 12,000 individuals – officially 8,000

The 1915 Storm, August 17th, Category 4 @ 135 mph
42    people dead in the Galveston area
$60 - 1915 million dollars in damage

Ike Sep 13th 2008 - The third most destructive hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States
Final landfall in Galveston Texas as a strong cat 2 with cat 5 equivalent storm surge winds extended 120 miles from the center.

Blamed for at least 195 deaths – 74 in Haiti and 112 in the USA 300 still missing. - Damages estimated at 24 billion (2008) US Dollars

Resulted in the largest evacuation in the state of Texas history and the largest search and rescue operation in US history

Nuclear Issues

Chernobyl, An Experiment Gone Wrong

On Saturday, April 26th, 1986 at 1:23 am, one of the reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded.
Ironically, the experiment consisted in testing how the power plant would respond in the event of an accident. The operators at the plant wanted to bring down the power output of the reactor to 25%, but over-confidence, poor training and poor knowledge of how a reactor works caused them to overdo it, and they ended up bringing down the power output to 1%. When they then tried to bring it up to 25%, the reactor overheated and exploded causing the worst nuclear accident in history.

Five U.S. nuclear reactors in earthquake zones

Status of the Nuclear Reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant

How a Reactor Shuts Down and What Happens in a Meltdown

Hazards of Storing Spent Fuel

Timeline: Nuclear Plant Accidents

Why the Fukushima disaster is worse than Chernobyl

In graphics: Fukushima nuclear alert

Fukushima victims: homeless, desperate & angry

Japan Panel: Fukushima nuclear disaster "man-made"

More, Did You Know That


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Business Continuity: BCP for ''Business as Usual''
Posted on Sunday, October 14 @ 19:29:02 PDT by admin
Business Continuity—Planning for “Business As Usual”
By Richard E. Floegel

The other day I received a letter from a national organization that said in part:

“Dear Manager.
No one welcomes a disaster. But with the right preparation, chances are you-and your business can survive.”

Growing up in New York City, one learns the meaning of survival at an early age. Life in the Big Apple is fast paced and direct. Lack of preparedness and confidence are elements of failure. Assessing risk is a constant.

New York is also known for some of its great leaders and philosophers. One philosopher in particular has given us insights to Business Continuity Planning that are profound but often overlooked. His name? One of Baseballs greatest hero’s, Yogi Berra.

In his book entitled “When you come to a fork in the road, TAKE IT!” Yogi shares his life long wisdom and insights gained from his greatest challenges. He’s immortalized many rules of life that apply to all aspects of personal and business existence. Business continuity is no exception. Business continuity is one of those forks in the road and one of life’s decisions.

In an era when the transfer of information around the world takes only seconds, waiting hours, or even days, to re-establish a company’s communication links with its customers is simply not acceptable.
Likewise, not having your customer data during a business interruption is also not acceptable. In business the customer is paramount. They want to conduct business when they are ready regardless of weather-related problems, acts of men or acts of terror.

“The future ain’t what it used to be”

The terrorist’s acts of September 11 changed how we look at risk and as a result, Business Continuity. Prior to his date few US companies could understand the magnitude of potential interruptions to business. The attack on the World Trade Center threw business continuity into the global spotlight. Never before had the ability of businesses to recover been played out in the full view of the world at large. Of course incidents and disasters are commonplace around the world, but somehow this was different; more shocking. Even the first attack on the WTC in 1993 and the various IRA London bombings seemed small-scale in comparison. Perhaps it was the sheer scale of the damage, or the vivid images of the second plane hitting its target and the towers collapsing, repeated over and over again in the news and in print. Clearly, the western world was stunned.

“If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be”

Business continuity plans are built to succeed in even the most extreme scenario, but we learned many lessons about our business continuity processes in this most severe of situations.

A McKinsey study, reported in the UK's Financial Times, found that some business continuity plans failed because they had been written on the assumption that any incident would only affect an individual premise. The broad nature of the effects of an incident such as the World Trade Center attack had not been considered.

As a result, other problems quickly came to light:

• Plans that were too detailed were less effective. The minutia of highly detailed recovery plans was often discarded during the recovery process.

• Many key employees did not take copies of their plans home with them and had to rely on others to supply them with a copy. As a result operational issues developed and some managers worked against their own plans.

• Trauma and stress affected the ability of personnel to perform effectively.

• Companies had failed to update disaster recovery capacity requirements as their business needs grew.

• Companies seriously underestimated how long it would take to recover, although some of the increased recovery time was caused by loss of critical employees.

• Not enough end-user testing had been carried out.

• Data synchronization issues "surfaced immediately as well as attempts to link to feeding and dependent systems." The interfaces between systems proved to have been inadequately tested.

• The backup and off-site data storage systems of some companies proved to be flawed creating major problems with data recovery.

• In many cases companies had lost their telecommunications capabilities and lost complete contact with their customer base. While part of the loss was attributed to the partial destruction of the West Street facility, underestimating telecommunications needs and recovery capabilities also played a significant role.

Like the thousands of other New Yorkers, Mayor Rudy Gulianni and the rest of the city’s Crisis Management team found themselves in a very difficult situation on the morning of September 11th. Like the companies directly affected by the attacks that morning, the city’s brand new Emergency Operations Center had been destroyed in the attack.
This center was to be used to direct the crisis. This meant that leadership had to set up a temporary Operations Center outside of the impact area. This task was further compounded by the transportation system being at a standstill. Many companies could not use their emergency operations facilities that they had planned to use.
Together with the transit standstill, crisis management teams could not gather easily in one place and the failure of the telecom networks meant that, in many cases, the crisis team could not be informed of plan changes or even the location of operation centers.

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it”

In business, we come to “the fork in the road” on a daily basis. We make decisions daily and gamble that nothing will happen to cause our business functions and processes to fail. We assume that we will achieve our business objectives allowing us to deliver our products and services without interruption.
Business is inherently risky. Some of these risks are the essence of business: product development, hiring decisions, pricing strategies or investing in a new venture. They are part of the challenge or calculated risks in running a business in the 21st Century. However, there are risks we do not seek. These risks and concerns are the ones that center on simply keeping a business running in the face of growing external threats to your business. These risks are multi-faceted, numerous and complex.

The greatest risk to any business today is simply going out of business. In both the UK and the US, Business Continuity Consultants report that, in general terms, 80% of businesses suffering a major disaster will cease to exist within 18 months. While one can argue what constitutes a major disaster, the simple truth is that it depends on you and your business. The overall impact of a business interruption depends on the size, nature and scope of your individual circumstances. No two businesses are alike in their ability to cope with a problem. No two events are alike. When an interruption to your business occurs, whatever the cause, it is a unique event in all aspects. Your response must be as varied and flexible as there is no “one size fits all” plan to keep your business afloat.

First, examine why you want to write a business continuity plan:

Many companies have claimed to have valid reason reasons for not writing and implementing business continuity plans. Believing that “it can’t happen to me”, lack of funds or other priorities are just a few of the more popular arguments we hear. The desire to continue a viable and functional business, in the face of any business interruption, is a serious commitment that starts at the top and is supported at all levels in the organization.
Commitment requires focus and establishing business continuity as a business priority.

Second, a company must evaluate where they are today:

Once the company is committed to developing a plan, it must look at the business and decide what could go wrong and what effects will it have on the overall business. If you live in California, you can expect to deal with earthquakes. In the Midwest it’s snowstorms, flooding and thunderstorms and in the east it’s hurricanes, flooding and other natural disasters. All communities face environmental risks and the growing threat of domestic and international terrorism. Define the known risks and define the impact they will have on your business.

Third, clearly define where you want to be:

What is the minimum level of service you can deliver to your customers? What level of communications can fail and for how long? What would happen if you lost your operating capability for 1 hour, 4 hours or even several days?
When you least expect it, you may find that the weakest link in your telecommunications system is the underground cable that is cut two miles up the road. What will you do then?

Fourth, now that you have committed to having business continuity as part of your corporate culture, defined the risks and business impact, defined what it takes to keep your business as a viable entity; it is now time to generate a plan:

What is the main ingredient of a comprehensive business continuity plan?

Every business journal, management “how to” book and executive seminar reminds senior management that their company’s most important asset is their people. So why is it, when the topic of disaster recovery or business continuity reaches the boardroom, most executives think only about their computer/IT (Information Technology) infrastructure?

In today’s high-speed society, access to information is mission critical, however, when a company experiences a business interruption, what use is recovering the information systems environment first in preference to a plan that is designed to enable business users to continue producing? The first and foremost ingredient of a comprehensive business continuity plan is people: Who will do what, where will they do it and when.

The second ingredient is maintaining your customer access. All that you do within the structure of your company will be in vain if you fail to provide a viable telecommunications link to the outside world.

“If you don’t know where you’re going you might not get there”

What is Business Continuity Planning?

It is the process of developing advance arrangements and procedures to enable an organization to respond to a crisis in such a manner that the critical business functions continue without an unacceptable interruption or essential change.

A well-developed and well-maintained business continuity plan ensures stability and maintaining business as usual.

A comprehensive business continuity plan is like any other corporate business plan. It identifies critical business functions and resources (people, equipment, vendors, etc.), and then outlines strategies to bring about the desired results.

One significant benefit of business continuity planning that is frequently overlooked is, that while developing the plan an organization will reduce its risk of experiencing a business interruption by identifying and rectifying exposures and single points of failure.

*Reprinted by permission of Business Protection Systems

Business continuity planning is the responsibility of the senior management and board of directors of an organization, not the Information Technology department. Only they can identify the priorities for recovery of divisions of the business. Too many companies focus their initial business continuity planning efforts on computer systems and not business functions or maintaining communications with their clients. While recovery of the information and telecommunication systems for any organization is critical in today’s technology dependent world, business continuity, and not just information recovery is what a comprehensive business continuity plan should provide.

To successfully work through a significant business interruption a company must have a plan. The plan must be people centric and must incorporate up to date information. What good is a plan with outdated telephone numbers?
While the Information Systems department, the facilities staff and other stakeholders are helping relocate or rebuild the infrastructure; each business unit must begin activation of its portion of the overall plan with communication;

• Plan for Frequent Communication with Staff
• Plan to employ Various Communication Mediums
• Plan for Immediate Communication to Clients
• Plan for Immediate Communication to Suppliers
• Plan Communication with Local Emergency Agencies

Business continuity is NOT limited to computer recovery. It is a process that focuses on restoring the enterprise to operability with as little delay as possible. The responsibility for business continuity planning should reside in the boardroom not the computer room.

Business continuity plans should not be scenario based. They must be suitable for any business interruption and must be capable of responding as a situation evolves. As we learned from September 11, any scenario is possible and a business interruption may occur at any time. The cause is not the issue; the object is recovery.

“Next week there can’t be any crisis. My schedule is already full” -Henry Kissinger
Plan to take advantage of all available resources. Know how to contact resources out of hours.

What will we gain?

• Continuity - ensure the restoration of the business to normal operations as quickly as possible after a disruption or disaster

• Clarity - identify weaknesses and implement best business practices to overcome them

• Confidence - have a solid plan for company-wide strategic disaster recovery initiatives with minimal risk

• Compliance - with Government regulations, auditors’ recommendations, ISO standards & expectations from Directors & shareholders

• Customer satisfaction - provide confidently higher levels of customer service and support

• Competitive Insurance Pricing - A comprehensive BCM program will provide more options and preferred pricing of insurance policies.

With the growing awareness of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, we have seen the emergence of many organizations that can help you develop the plan and take you through the process. While you may choose to seek professional assistance in the development of your plan, always remember that it is YOUR PLAN and it is what YOUR survival depends on.

Lastly, once you have a plan always remember that change is a constant. Update and review your plan on a
regular basis that fits your business, your environment and your people.

In closing, Yogi Berra said, “Most people know me by my face”

September 11th may prove to be a turning point in the United States for business continuity. The level of awareness of the subject has increased among senior management and the business press. The market has seen a plethora of new products and services. While this is healthy for you, the buyer, caution must be exercised in building your “business as usual model”. It’s my belief that the current rush of “one size fits all” products and services is not the answer. Best of breed products and services in IT and Telecom from niche players offer the best opportunity to model a solution that meets your individual needs. In addition, the daily business press now appears to understand and appreciate the need for business continuity.

The steps you take in planning for business as usual will have a direct impact on the “face” your customers see at the time of any business interruption. If you fail, perhaps the most prophetic of Yogi’s statements will come to pass.

“If people don’t want to come out to the park, nobody’s going to stop them”.

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