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According to a Wall Street Journal article (see Penn State Warned On Accreditation at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444318104577589174048808462.html?mod=ITP_pageone_1 ), "Pennsylvania State University's accreditation is "in jeopardy," one of the nation's primary accrediting groups warned the school, in the latest fallout from the Jerry Sandusky child-sex-abuse scandal. "

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the WSJ reported, "said there was 'insufficient evidence' that Penn State was complying with standards related to governance and integrity, as well as meeting financial obligations. "

Should a risk management practitioner have seen this coming? Or is the threat just another "black swan" that no one could have anticipated?


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California is assessing homeowners who live in vulnerable, fire-prone areas a fee to cover the cost of fire protection services, including very expensive suppression of wild fires.  It’s about time someone acted to place the cost of protecting vulnerable properties on those who own them.



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In a business world that is embracing the cloud more and more every day, it is interesting to see that, while the cloud benefits companies in several ways, these companies seldom demonstrate their advantage from the cloud in terms of ROI (return on investment).  This may be because many of the benefits from cloud computing are intangible and may not be fully realized until further down the road.  

Therefore, to calculate returns from cloud computing, a business will most likely not employ the standard ROI calculations.  Instead, the company may use one of the following ways to determine ROI from cloud computing:

  1. Rate of adaption in the market:  With the flexibility that the cloud offers in terms of quick transitioning of capabilities, businesses can adapt to ever-changing market trends and therefore improve standing against competitors in the industry.  Consequently, increased revenue may be realized due to their ability to grab market share at an improved pace.
  2. Utilization and control of resources: The scalability of cloud computing allows businesses to avoid under or over utilizing resources, which in turn ensures effective capacity utilization and the avoidance of waste.
  3. Cost of ownership:  With little to no barriers to entry and the low skill level needed to configure and use cloud infrastructure, businesses can save the money that would otherwise be used for staff training, installation, and maintenance of the infrastructure.
  4. Growth potential:  As a business in today’s world, it is important to have room for growth.  Traditionally, if a business demanded additional resources (in terms of infrastructure and IT personnel), it may have taken weeks to acquire the infrastructure and to train/transition the staff.  However, with cloud computing, resources can be scaled almost instantaneously to accommodate the growing demands of the business.

Depending on the specific needs of your business, you may calculate ROI in any one of these ways, or another.  As you can see, it may be hard to quantify the returns on cloud computing, even if the benefits are quite substantial. 

Tagged in: Cloud Computing

Today’s small business owners face daily challenges in running their businesses, and one of the more difficult challenges is managing business continuity and disaster recovery planning; however, the primary focus for most business owners is on their core business competencies, not on becoming resiliency experts.

Because investments in business continuity and disaster recovery planning directly impact the bottom line, there is a constant need to achieve real business benefits and mitigate costs against a backdrop of time pressures and limited business continuity skills. To add to this pressure, many small businesses are now looking toward cloud services, and what they may offer. However, this can add even more complexity and apprehension in adopting business continuity and disaster recovery planning methods.

What other challenges to you face when convincing small business owners to adopt business continuity and disaster recovery practices?

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By Glen Bricker, Managing Consultant, Avalution Consulting
Article originally posted on Avalution Consulting’s Blog

The goal of any recovery plan, regardless of the size or nature of the organization, is to protect life, minimize damage from an event, and quickly resume the delivery of critical products and services to meet customer requirements.  How this is accomplished, however, not only depends on the nature of the organization, but also its customers, size and resources, and culture.  The objective is to build plans that are based on realistic requirements, fit within the organization’s culture, and remain cost effective and appropriate.  The remainder of this article will discuss these characteristics and how they are incorporated into recovery plans.

The key to a great recovery plan is building what is appropriate. For example, it would be inappropriate to implement five levels of command structure and multiple plans in a thirty person company, or expect a single team in a multi-site, global organization to do everything.  In a large organization recovery plans are typically broken down into multiple plans that are owned and maintained by specific departments – emergency response will be owned by a Facilities or Security group, crisis communications will be owned by Corporate Communications or Public Affairs, and operational recovery plans will be owned by the business units.  All of these elements will be controlled and directed by a central Crisis Management Team and Plan.  In a smaller organization a single plan could suffice for most of these activities with limited addenda for specific critical functions.


By Christopher Burton, Senior Consultant, Avalution Consulting
Article originally posted on Avalution Consulting’s Blog

Since 2005, Avalution Consulting has performed hundreds of business continuity exercises with organizations in every major industry and sector throughout the United States.  No matter the scope of the exercise or the level of complexity, several key elements enable the successful outcome of this important component of the business continuity lifecycle.  This perspective shares some of our lessons learned, highlights the importance of exercising and provides insight into our time-tested exercise methodology. 

Nearly every business continuity standards and regulatory body recognizes the need for exercises to validate and continually improve continuity plans, including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the British Standards Institute (BSI), and even the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council (FFIEC).  Exercising is also one of the most visible activities in which a business continuity practitioner is involved; it’s where the rubber meets the road.


By Susan Giffin, Managing Consultant, Avalution Consulting
Article originally posted on Avalution Consulting’s Blog

We recently published a perspective (Business Continuity for Small Businesses – We Can Do Better!) on how most small and medium-sized organizations escape the complexity of larger organizations and thus have the opportunity to implement streamlined business continuity planning processes, which should include:

  • Prioritizing departments and activities;
  • Identifying and classifying dependencies;
  • Establishing an approach to recover the critical departments and the critical dependencies;
  • Writing a plan to ensure a repeatable implementation of the recovery approach, along with details on how to ‘restart’ the critical departments; and
  • Testing the plan with an exercise, identifying lessons learned and building experiences.

A software tool can enable these key steps in the planning process and provide a more efficient process to collect, use and maintain data. However, while organizations of all sizes utilize similar processes when it comes to business continuity planning, the same cannot be said for the use of tools.


By Robert Giffin, Director, Avalution Consulting
Article originally posted on Avalution Consulting’s Blog

If you have less than 500 employees, odds are you don’t have someone working full-time on business continuity. And, unless regulations require you to perform planning in some manner, your organization may not have a business continuity plan at all!

Due to complex and distributed operations in larger organizations, business continuity is often a full-time position because the processes needed to establish recovery priorities and implement recovery strategies are often just as complex. Fortunately, most small and medium-sized organizations escape such complexity and thus have the opportunity to implement streamlined planning processes. In fact, I would argue their needs are pretty simple:


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Are we ever really safe from each other, from an insider, from one of our own? Colleges exist to educate people, and they must be open to their own students. Protecting all members of the college community from one of their own who "snaps" and decides to terrorize from the inside is next to impossible. One could easily bring a dozen Glock 19 pistols onto a college campus undetected inside a flat-top guitar case. A number of shots could be fired before anyone familiar with a crisis response plan could respond.