Programming, not planning, is the key to success

Companies should manage rather than plan their business continuity

Companies should manage rather than plan their business continuity, according to Gartner research vice-president Roberta Witty.

"The word 'planning' implies that it can be handled as a project, done once and then forgotten. But business continuity is not a project, it is a programme, and it must be managed on an ongoing basis to ensure that a full programme management cycle is conducted around how your business will continue in the event of a catastrophic event," she said.

According to Witty, standard business management procedures include:

Putting a company's business continuity and disaster recovery plans in sync with the rest of its facilities, utilities, suppliers and key customers, as well as with the recommendations of public emergency services.

Training all staff about whom to notify in case of an emergency, where to go to seek information, and how to direct customers, trading partners, suppliers and the press on how to get information and assistance.

Setting up centralised command and emergency operations centres to give better co-ordination and organisation.

Regular testing of recovery plans to make recovery smoother, as well as training new employees and refreshing established staff in what they will need to do.

Managing media relations so the organisation is not adversely affected by the media when reporting the event.

Understanding the ability of suppliers to restore their own functionality. It does not matter how fast you can get your own organisation up and running if your supply chain is broken.

Employees will put securing their homes and families first, so put in place secondary and tertiary members of the recovery team and train them in how best to handle their own personal recovery needs.

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