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Effective Continuity

15 February 2006

Organisations affected by the fire at the Buncefield oil deport will be better able to survive if their business continuity strategies were in place and up-to-date at the time of the disaster. Next month’s Business Continuity event will reinforce this message for FMs

Floods, terrorist attacts, the threat of avian flu pandemic and the Buncefield Oil Depot fire may have recently raised awareness of the need for business continuity planning but many organisations are still not considering the day-to-day threats to business which need to be addressed if the UK is to minimise business loss and avoid unnecessary business failure. Companies should be planning for the implications of disasters such as power cuts or IT related problems as well as for the potential loss of not only data and equipment, but also of people and premises.

Now in its third year, the UK’s definitive event addressing operational risk, Business Continuity -The Risk Management Expo 2006 incorporates an exhibition and high level conference providing education and solutions designed to help UK organisations mitigate the impact of day-to-day business threats.

Graeme Howe, Event Director of Business Continuity -The Risk Management Expo 2006 comments, -There are simple steps that an organisation can take to prepare for the unexpected -many of which will not require extortionate investment. Underpinning good business continuity is an acceptance of the need to imagine the possible disaster scenarios, and put in place a strategy to address the situation.

Business Continuity - The Risk Management Expo 2006 will play host to a range of providers who have both solutions and advice for organisations and who specialise in the FM , aspects of business continuity.

Computer security specialists, Remtech (stand 300) will be presenting its ModuSec solution, which is designed to protect computer rooms and secure storage facilities from the damaging effects of external fire/heat sources, water and smoke. ModuSec also offers a choice of protection levels for intrusion and blast/explosion resistance.

Remtech’s MD Mike Lawrence explains, -The protection of centralised communications hardware is now vital to the survival of every organisation due to the physical risks to sensitive hardware such as fire and flood damage and now increasingly vandalism, theft and blast.

However, according to Ron Miller, Managing Consultant, of SunGard Availability Services' Professional Services (stand 318), It is frequently the case that people confuse risks with impacts.Ideally organisations should have in place measures to mitigate the impact of whatever risk manifests itself, and as far as premises and facilities are concerned we can often put those potential impacts into broad categories such as, complete or partial loss of premises, short or long-term denial of access to premises or loss of infrastructure contained within those premises.

With the increasing potential for disruption from terrorism, energy and/or telecoms outages as well as the ‘old favourites’ of fire and flood, it’s essential that organisations have comprehensive and effective business continuity planning in place, Miller adds. Alternative sites, replacement or fall-back technologies, displacement strategies, emergency generating equipment and UPS, diverse routing of utilities are all examples of potential components in Business Continuity plans which are designed to help an organisation overcome the problems associated with an incident affecting its premises or facilities.

Indeed, BIS (stand 126) believes acts of fire, flood and theft are utter nightmares for FMs affecting the staff and building. A quick recovery is the necessary means to the survival of the business. BIS provides high availability solutions across legal, shipping, local government and media sectors. It will present, The Lifecycle Management of the whole business, a different perspective on how businesses can continue to run throughout a disaster;

Norland Managed Services (stand 424), on the other hand, argues that Critical Engineering and Risk Management (CERM) is important. Paul Saville-King, its City & Docklands Business Unit Director, says, "Much of the written word on this subject relates to the design phase of a project but for ‘live’ operations, the situation is different. A traditional M&E maintenance services partner may not be equipped - or have the right culture - to deliver the five fundamental pillars of CERM - focus (alignment with the clients organisation), consistency, compliance, visibility (of risk) and learning and improvement."

Divided into two streams - London and Financial Sector Resilience, and Business Continuity Strategy, Structure and Standards - held on day one of the Business Continuity Expo conference offers a programme packed with valuable information and experience. With recent terrorist events in mind, some sessions deal with emergency response and communications issues and how government is ensuring business in the UK is prepared, while others deal with business continuity preparedness in general. Speakers come from a range of blue chips including Marks & Spencer, London Underground, Dell Corporation, Norwich Union Life and Barclays.

Six seminars featured on day two of Business Continuity Expo cover a range of subjects including telecoms resilience, testing business continuity scenarios, resilience benchmarking and business continuity for beginners. One of the highlights of the event will be a presentation from Art Jones of the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness about the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on the economy of the Gulf Coast.

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