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People ask: “What is the best experience a business-continuity analyst can bring to the table?” Well, one of the biggest things about business continuity is that it revolves around understanding the business process—knowing how an organization works. You can’t determine how best to recover an organization until you first understand how that organization normally operates.

When you’re looking at skill sets in this vein, the role of the business analyst is really an excellent starting point for the aspiring business-continuity analyst. So now we’re looking at exactly what a business continuity analyst does. A business continuity analyst will possess a variety of different skill sets—and they will all fit into business continuity planning and management.

One of the first roles is mapping business processes. A business analyst will typically do this in any one of a few different formats. We use something called the operation blueprint. This essentially maps all of the different steps to the business process. It also then links-up all of the supporting resources. Those would be your information-technology assets, your people, your vendors—essentially anything that would support the operation of each different business process, function or activity.

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This week Charlie suggests 10 New Year's resolutions that Business Continuity Managers may want to consider.

 

Happy New Year to all readers. I hope you had a good holiday!

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Originally posted on Rentsys Recovery Services' blog.

If you’re not an IT person but are involved in business continuity and need to be familiar with your business’s disaster recovery (DR) plan, how do you know if your organization is using the right data backup and recovery solution? The specific answer will vary based on your organization’s size and industry, but one thing holds true for all organizations: You need a solution that can back up your environment, not just your files. We’ll explain why.

File-Sharing Services

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The Handbook for EMS Medical Directors was developed by the IAFC as part of a cooperative agreement with DHS, FEMA and USFA, and was supported by DHS, Office of Health Affairs. A project team representing EMS stakeholder groups worked together to develop, contribute and author the handbook. In addition to the project team, many industry professionals contributed time, information and efforts to aid in the production of the handbook. Industry stakeholder groups reviewed and provided feedback during the handbook’s production. Please see the Acknowledgements section of the handbook for a complete list of contributing individuals and groups. Their efforts are greatly appreciated.

The position of an emergency medical services (EMS) agency medical director allows the opportunity for a physician to become engaged in the unique and ever-evolving realm of out-of-hospital care, a clinical practice offering a distinct set of challenges, and rewarding impacts in improving a community’s emergency medical care abilities. For most, the driving force behind the desire to become an EMS agency medical director stems from a deep passion for helping patients in times of marked acute medical need whenever and wherever the need appears. Yet, understanding the nuances involved in the oversight and direction of an EMS agency requires specialized knowledge, skills, and abilities beyond the typical curriculum of emergency medicine or alternative acute care medical practices. It is for this precise reason that EMS has been recently recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties as a formal physician subspecialty.

The purpose of this handbook is to provide assistance to both new and experienced medical directors as they strive to provide the highest quality of out-of-hospital emergency medical care to their communities and foster excellence within their agencies. The handbook will provide the new medical director with a fundamental orientation to the roles that define the position of the medical director while providing the experienced medical director with a useful reference tool. The handbook will explore the nuances found in the EMS industry–a challenge to describe in generalities due to the tremendous amount of diversity among EMS agencies and systems across the Nation. The handbook does not intend to serve as an operational medical practice document, but seeks to identify and describe the critical elements associated with the position.

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Charlie discusses how the UK power supply crisis could affect your organisation.

A couple of weeks ago one of the lead stories in the news was the fire at Didcot B Power Station, a gas power station in the South of England. The station, which within the last couple of days has just been brought back on line, now has the power output of about 350MW; roughly half its normal capacity of around 700MW. The issue of power supply to the UK has been in the news for the last couple of days. The spare power capacity within the UK a couple of years ago was 17%, has now been reduced to 5%, and this may lead to the possibility of loss of power or brownouts.

 
A brownout is an intentional or unintentional drop in voltage in an electrical power supply system intentional brownouts are used for load reduction in an emergency. They can have a number of different effects on electrical systems, which can vary from the lights dimming, to burnouts of electrical motors. Equally worrying is that it can affect digital circuits in unexpected ways, such as make an electric motor run backwards, or it can cause them to produce false readings.
 
The management of power supply within the UK has been a creeping crisis for many years. The governments have failed to invest in new power supply, lacking the political will power to build new power stations, which are usually controversial. Cracks in a number of nuclear power stations have put some stations out of action leaving the country with limited spare capacity. The further loss of generating capacity coupled with a very cold winter, leading to increase in demand, could cause brownouts to occur or areas to lose power.
 
So what should we as business continuity people be doing?

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Charlie Maclean-Bristol, FBCI, discusses whether the time has come for business continuity managers to make contingency plans for an Ebola pandemic.

Spain is now dealing with the first case of direct infection of Ebola in Western Europe; the first Ebola death has occurred in the United States; and the World Health Organization has warned that ‘Ebola is now entrenched in the capital cities of all three worst-affected countries and is accelerating in almost all settings’. So has the time come for business continuity managers to make contingency plans for a possible future Ebola pandemic? I think the answer to this question is, yes, we should be.

I am not suggesting that you immediately go out to the supermarket and buy lots of tinned food and water, barricade the house, be prepared to operate on battery power and bottled gas and then lie low. 

What I am suggesting is that we should be quietly thinking about how a possible Ebola pandemic might affect our organization; thinking through what an Ebola plan might look like; and monitoring the situation to ensure that you are ready to react if the situation escalates further.

So what at this stage should business continuity managers be doing?

1. One of the first tasks we should be doing as business continuity people is looking at what our possible exposure to Ebola is. What is our staff exposure to the disease, do we have staff travelling in areas, which have had cases of Ebola? As the disease spreads further, which most commentators are saying that it will do, then cases of Ebola may arise in a variety of places. We may have to react quickly if our staff are in the same area or they may be stranded by a country travel ban. 

2. What is our supply chain exposure to the disease and does it involve West Africa? Again, like staff travelling, as the disease spreads and turns up in expected areas then it may affect our supply chain. 

3. If the disease was to take hold in our country how would it affect our organization and would it create more work for us or less? If we work in an organization that would be responding to a pandemic (for example healthcare services) or are a supplier to such an organization, then it is likely our workload will increase. If our organization supplies essential services or part of the country’s ‘critical infrastructure’ such as power, food, water, etc. then we will be under a lot of pressure from government to keep working. Whilst if our organization does not supply something critical then we can perhaps temporarily close down our organization without a major impact beyond our own employees. Any contingency planning should reflect how it affects the individual organization!

4. Once we understand our exposure, then we should be engaging with senior managers in our organization and discussing our organization’s exposure and what action we should be taking at the moment. It we have no exposure then perhaps we should be agreeing to continue to monitor the situation. We may want to agree at this stage what sort of events might trigger further action. If we have a larger exposure then perhaps we should start some contingency planning and engaging with those parts of the business or people who may be at risk.

5. I think at this stage it is very important that we are not seen to panic or to overreact, as this might undermine any other contingency planning for other events; may undermine the credibility of the individuals involved in contingency planning; and may undermine any further escalation within the organization if this is required. Especially if there is a risk to our organization, some measured communication to staff informing them of appropriate risk reduction measures to take, any travel bans and what to do if they think they have been in contact with someone with the disease may help reassure them that you are thinking about the risk and taking appropriate action.

6. It may be appropriate for your organization to carry out some contingency planning to cover scenarios such as loss of a key supplier; if a staff member becomes infected; or if parts of your organization were quarantined. This may involve dusting off influenza pandemic plans and other contingency plans and seeing how appropriate they are in response to Ebola and amending the plans accordingly. I suspect if there was a full pandemic, government would in the main very much dictate the response and precautions to be taken by businesses and individuals.

7. I think, in the end, if we do nothing else we should monitor the situation on a day by day basis; so that we can react quickly if Ebola might, or is likely to, have an impact on our organization. 


The author
Charlie Maclean-Bristol, FBCI, FEPS, Director of Training, PlanB Consulting. PlanB Consulting is able to provide continuity planning risk assessments, advice and contingency plans for any organization that has an exposure to Ebola risk. www.planbconsulting.co.uk

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The Dallas hospital treating the Ebola patient has just announced that the patient died.

The Liberian public health and airport security personnel in Liberia did their jobs, and checked outgoing passengers at three distinct checkpoints.  But airport personnel can do little when patients lie or the patient didn't know that what was thought to be malaria was actually Ebola.

We've patted ourselves on the back in this country for the sophistication of our medical capabilities, yet as I listened to the story today of the patient being sent away from the hospital in Dallas when his isolation and treatment might have meant that he would have lived, I thought once again of Dr. Atul Gawande's book, The Checklist Manifesto
This type of error is called one of ineptitude, as opposed to one of ignorance, presumably.  We don't know if this was an Ebola-specific checklist; one prepared by the hospital itself; or one from the Center for Disease Controls.  A quick read of Gawande's book might be very helpful, especially if the checklist has more than 5-7 items on it, without what Gawande calls "pause points."  His book is full of stories of how pilots, builders of skyscrapers and surgical teams perform extremely complicated feats, and how using checklists that involve every member of the team makes a difference.  His work in this respect for the World Health Organization has made a large impact:  deaths after surgeries have been reduced significantly by the implementation of several simple procedures that are part of the checklist.
I would also recommend the book to the new acting director of the Secret Service and to the panel that is currently being constituted to review the disturbing procedural/process failures over the last several years for the organization charged with guarding the president.  It may be that those procedures or processes have become shopworn.  Certainly it must be the case that, unless on a form of high alert (the United Nations responsibility, for example) agents' situational awareness is at an all time low.  Whether this is a factor related to the move from Treasury to the Department of Homeland Security or not is difficult to estimate, but will undoubtedly be reviewed by the panel.
The tipping point I mentioned last week seems more vivid as weeks go by.  Yet there was one piece of good news this morning:  that it appears Nigeria, the most populous and also most well-off African country in terms of infrastructure and medical personnel, has contained Ebola.  We just can't move quickly enough to get more personnel, hospitals, emergency operations centers and supplies deployed in the remaining countries. 

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This week Charlie discusses how the Ebola crisis is creeping up on all of us. 
 
 
The situation in West Africa, with the ongoing spread of Ebola, bears all the classic symptoms of a ‘creeping’ or ‘rising tide’ crisis.

In Tolly’s Handbook of Disaster and Emergency Management Principles and Practice (edited by Lakha & Moore, 2004) a rising tide crisis is described as a: “Problem which creeps up gradually, such as occurs in the case of organised crime, corruption, a developing infectious disease epidemic or a steady stream of refugees into a country. There is no clear starting point for the crisis and the point at which it becomes a crisis may only be clear in retrospect.”

At present the disease is out of control in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. The latest news from the BBC says that in Sierra Leone there are five new cases of Ebola every hour and that a total of 765 new cases were reported in the West African state in the last week alone.

The problem is compounded by the fact that there are only 327 hospital beds in the country. The disease has killed 3,338 people so far. The situation is made even worse by the fact that 10% of Ebola deaths have been health professionals. Those trying to prevent the spread of the disease are being killed by it.

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Tagged in: Business Continuity

This week Charlie discusses the Scottish referendum results.

 

I have written about Scottish independence before, but thought I would revisit the topic now that the referendum has been and gone.

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Food is a universal language. So is man’s need to survive. Whether in the business world or the kitchen we need a simple recipe for business continuity success.  In this four part series I’ll introduce you to the four basic courses necessary when cooking up an appetizing and rewarding business continuity program. This week the focus is on doing what’s good for us…exercising and eating our veggies!

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DRJ Fall World is just around the corner, so now is the perfect time to turn our attention to the companies who help us ensure we can provide you with a top-notch learning and networking experience.

Gold Sponsor: Send Word Now: Headquartered in New York City, and founded as a direct result of personal experiences during 9/11, Send Word Now is the leading worldwide provider of on-demand alerting for crisis communication. The company’s easy-to-use, web-based emergency notification solutions and mobile applications are today utilized by businesses, government agencies, universities and non-profit organizations to ensure fast, effective and two-way communication when it is needed the most. Send Word Now's enterprise-class and award-winning notification service is capable of transmitting tens of thousands of voice and text messages in minutes, while ensuring a full audit trail for after-action reporting and follow-up. Its conferencing and workflow solutions keep everyone informed and connected to the people and information necessary for safety and resilience. At Send Word Now, a Silver Sponsor of DRJ Spring World 2014 and Gold Sponsor of DRJ Fall World 2014, every message counts.

Silver Sponsors:

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As a reader of the DRJ blog, you know that we're busy getting ready for DRJ Fall World. Our 51st conference is happening very soon so we thought it would be useful to remind you of the information you need to have a successful conference experience.

When: September 7 -10, 2014

Where: Hilton San Diego Bayfront (1 Park Boulevard)

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Corporate executives largely understand the importance of backups. Even though businesses recognize why they need data protection only a few have implemented a seamless backup, archive and disaster recovery system. Why? The lack of time, resources and energy appear on the surface to be the problem. Too many other IT and datacenter issues get in the way. At the source, however, the problem may simply be repeating pitfalls that foil successful implementations.

Here are three of the ultimately game-ending pitfalls that companies have experienced when implementing data backup and restoration incorrectly. These problems take the wind out of the sails for an IT datacenter.

Pitfall #1 : Not selecting the right backup method

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Food is a universal language. So is man’s need to survive. Whether in the business world or the kitchen we need a simple recipe for business continuity success. The second “course” of this four part series takes a look at how picking the right strategy for your business continuity plan is key for its success. Also, to help deliver the “main course” I’ve invited a special guest chef -  IBM’s own, Chef Watson. 

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Don't know if you've heard the news but DRJ Fall World is just around the corner - September 7 - 10 in San Diego. We've fine-tuned our agenda, have a got a great line-up of industry experts to lead the numerous sessions, and we're rolling out the red carpet during our hospitality events. 

And to top things off, we've extended the $100 registration savings discount to August 14. This means you have two more days to take advantage of the discounted registration fee. 

As you know we want you to get the most value possible at our conferences. This is why we want you to take advantage of the DRJ Fall World pre- and post-conference courses. These courses allow you to extend your learning and to make the most of your travel and education budget.

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Originally posted on Rentsys Recovery Services’ blog.

In today’s world, many, if not most, companies are either part of a regulated industry or have been identified as a critical vendor in a customer’s supply chain. These organizations are audited by regulatory bodies such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of Civil Rights or by another third-party auditor.

If your company falls into one of these two categories, you’re likely aware that most auditors look to see if your organization has implemented sound risk management and mitigation controls for safeguarding mission-critical data and business processes.

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Just like the kids who are anxiously looking at the calendar and counting down the number of summer vacation days left - we're also counting. The only difference is that we're excitedly counting the days left until DRJ Fall World 2014

Our 51st conference is being held in San Diego, CA from Sept. 7  - 10. Yes, very very soon. This means that we want you to be ready and prepared for our industry-leading conference. Make sure you've sent in your registration from and have reserved your hotel room at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront

Along with the many learning opportunities available to you at DRJ Fall World, don't forget about the networking you'll be able to do. Thanks to the hospitality events, the welcome reception, the exhibit hall and our networking breakfasts/lunches - you'll leave the conference with an updated contact list of peers and experts who can help you out at anytime.

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By Jacque Rupert, Avalution Consulting
Originally posted on Avalution Consulting’s Business Continuity Blog

Nearly all business continuity professionals understand the importance of the business impact analysis (BIA) as the primary means for laying the foundation of a business continuity program. However, many professionals struggle to receive executive buy-in, as well as the necessary resources and support for the process. This article dispels common myths in attempt to help remove barriers to obtaining support and contributes to the creation of the business case for performing the BIA in any organization.

If you would like to learn more about the purpose and expected outcomes of the BIA, please check out: The Relationship Between the Business Impact Analysis and Risk Assessment.

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Food is a universal language. So is man’s need to survive. Whether in the business world or the kitchen we need a simple recipe for business continuity success.  In this four part series I’ll introduce you to the four basic courses necessary when cooking up an appetizing and rewarding business continuity program.   Let's get started... Remember the "devil(ed egg) is in the detail".

 

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It's not just that airplanes have been disappearing, or shot down, or that the infectious disease Ebola is out of control in parts of Africa, or that Tel Aviv travel was suspended by major airlines when shelling came too close to the airport . Travel risk has always been an issue for corporations whose employees are spread round the globe.  In this morning's New York Times article, Joe Sharkey goes inside a gathering of corporate travel managers to better understand their concerns, including legal and ethical risks, given the last week or so of travel events.

 

If you're traveling on your own and don't have a corporate travel office to rely upon to filter out threats and make best recommendations, then your best bet is to go to the Department of State's website and read through the threat analysis they perform on countries you might visit. 

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