Swine Flu Fears Raise Questions About Business Continuity Plans

Despite recent power blackouts in Sydney and the threat of a swine flu pandemic, many Australian organisations are still “flying by the seat of their pants” claim experts

Despite recent power outages in Sydney and the growing risk of a swine flu outbreak, many organisations are lagging behind in their development of full business continuity plans (BCPs), according to local experts.

Athol Yates, director at the Canberra-based Australian Homeland Security Research Centre (AHSRC), says that many organisations do not have BCPs in place.

“The majority fly by the seat of their pants,” Yates says. “But, it also depends on the size of the organisation and how critical [the services it provides] are. Larger ones will tend to have them, as will utilities and those that offer medical services. Smaller ones won’t.”

Yates says a big part of this is due to a lack of, or only limited access to, strategic planning skills. Then there’s the myriad demands CIOs face in keeping the business running.

“[BC planning] is a specialised skill and normally you need an outside group to drive interest and credibility in it, and to build the business case for it,” Yates says. “Also, when you are consumed by the day-to-day activities of trying to make a buck it is difficult to get away from that to the less-pressing issues of something like business continuity planning.”

Stumbling Blocks

John Duckett, CIO at law firm DLA Phillip Fox supports Yates’ claims, adding that while many organisations have implemented effective disaster recovery (DR) capabilities for their IT infrastructure, implementing organisation-wide business continuity plans have proved to be a far greater challenge.

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