Swine Flu Prompts Aussie CIOs to Revisit Business Continuity Plans

CIOs, analysts give their tips for a pandemic business continuity plan

At the CXO level, Livingstone says Ricoh has structured its main tools and systems so they can be accessed and delivered through the Web, so it’s less of a concern if the CEO is quarantined at home or is restricted from travelling within or between countries.

“The operational aspect of warehousing staff is more of a concern, the people who have to move physical goods," Livingstone says. "Decision making can occur in a virtual environment so there is less of an issue about having restricted movement of executives.”

Livingstone says a major spur to developing Ricoh’s BCP was the creation of the information security management system (ISMS) standard, ISO 27001. The outbreak of SARS was also a driver to the creation of a pandemic-based BCP.

“It revolves around quarantining staff, restricting movements and the early detection of symptoms and signs and being proactive with the management of the appropriate person or people,” he says.

“We now have the model in place with ICMS ISO 27001 certification as well as the SARS policy and processes, so we would just look at revising those for any new pandemic [such as swine flu].”

According to Gartner, CIOs need to have a good look at the state of their IT business continuity plans, because in a crisis CEOs will rely on IT to keep the business running — not to mention compensate for a very high rate of absenteeism.

“The recent outbreaks of Swine flu are highlighting the need for organisations to have pandemic plans that address workforce absenteeism rates of 40 percent or higher, and stress the central role of IT to remain in operation during pandemics,” Rick DeLotto, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Nick Jones, another analyst at Gartner says remote working, looking for creative uses of mobile devices, and teleworking should all be considerations. Writing in a recent blog post he says wireless broadband can enable remote working from a wide range of locations very quickly without waiting for a local telco to install DSL.

“Also take a look at the HSPA adapters with built-in WiFi as a quick way to set up a remote office. It’s probably worth buying some laptop HSPA adapters as part of your contingency plan. It’s also probably a good idea to spread your purchases across several networks, because if there is pandemic or epidemic some may become overloaded. And don’t forget satellite data is an option (if an expensive one) for people outside wireless broadband coverage.”

He also says CIOs should try to identify ways in which you can use mobile devices in new ways. This could include dropping a copy of disaster/contingency plans onto every smartphone so that every senior employee has it in their pocket to refer to.

“Try to identify ways in which you could develop alternative business processes that used mobiles instead of PCs or desktops,” he says. “Could you perhaps use video phone calls as a low-grade video conferencing substitute to avoid staff travelling to expensive VTC suites?”

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More about: Creative, Dematic, Gartner, Google, IBRS, ICMS, ISO, mobiles, Nortel, Pandemic, Ricoh
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