“They joked that the worst trouble would arise from [ousted
president] Ben Ali flying by overhead on his way to Paris,” Joyce
says. “They were sure it would never happen there.” Only a week
later, they were proved wrong.
You can’t be ready for everything every where, but at the same
time, specific events in specific places can be nearly impossible to
foresee. So how do you prepare?
“My recommendation is a balancing act,” Blum says. “You
want to raise your baseline capability to cope with any crisis.
You raise that as high as you reasonably can, given the costs and
potential benefits. But then you look at worst-case scenarios that
would be catastrophic to the business in terms of what’s most
likely to happen, and that will vary by location.” (For more on
how to calculate the risk of specific events in different places, see
“How to Create a Valid Threat Matrix” on the previous page.)
Should you watch the news with special attention to potential
disasters brewing where your data, operations or outsourcing
partners are located? “Anyone with access to the Internet and a
news service should have a basic idea of what’s going on,” Marshall
says. But, he adds, you shouldn’t try to go it alone. “Every orga-
nization needs to monitor external events. You may have a risk
management team within your company, or there are commercial
organizations that will keep you updated about potential risks.”
One of your best sources of information is whatever staff you
have on the ground in a potentially troubled location. Depend on
them for insight, and make sure they have a plan for where to get
their own news if a local event causes disruptions.
Sometimes it’s possible to see a problem coming well in
advance. Although the earthquake and damaged nuclear reactor
in Fukushima, Japan, are no longer making daily headlines,
Orange is helping a client located nearby consolidate and relocate
operations to Indonesia as soon as possible. Why? “The biggest
challenge for many there was power continuity,” Joyce says.
“Coming into the peak of the summer, there will still be a serious
aftereffect of that disaster. We’re anticipating rolling blackouts.”
What’s in Your
when a crisis strikes at an International sos location,
local employees pull out the field deployment pack.
That’s a suitcase full of technology items that are especially
useful when normal power and/or communications are
down. It’s a good idea to have a similar bag of tricks stored
in a closet at each of your company’s locations.
Here are the contents of an International SOS field de-
The printer is more important than you might think, ex-
plains Jonathan Bar, general manager of global infrastruc-
ture. You may need to print travel papers or other docu-
ments, or photos of people you’re searching for.
Recently, the company has begun including iPads in its
field deployment packs. With their high-quality image display capability, long battery life and robust mapping technology, they can be very handy.
— MInda Ze TlIn
Ask ‘what if?’
Once you’ve considered what types of disruptions are most likely at
your various locations, sit down with key staffers and talk through each of those scenarios.
“It’s worth running through a catalog that
might include civil unrest, power supply
problems, interruption of Internet service
and a terrorist attack, although trying to
imagine and foresee everything will take you
down some blind alleys,” Marshall says.
It’s an important opportunity to learn just
what top management will expect of IT in a
crisis. “See if everyone’s assumptions are the
same,” Marshall suggests. “Ninety percent
of the time, someone will say, ‘I thought you
guys would be up and running for that!’ ”
People tend to assume that working
systems stay that way, he notes. “Anyone
who’s worked in a company with central-
ized data storage knows there are all kinds
of misconceptions about what you will and
won’t be able to access, and the assumptions
you make in IT won’t be the same ones that
Finance or other departments make.” Key areas to cover for
each scenario: Will the Internet be available? What about phone
service? If data needs to be restored from a backup, how long will
it take? “People tend to assume that, since we have backups, the
data will be instantaneously available,” Marshall says.
“you need to be able to pay
your employees,” says Brand
velocity’s terry Assink.