Wednesday, January 14, 2009

ERM-BC-COOP: Odds and ends

Someone who neither reads nor cares for either the bottom line or people's welfare chopped through a fibre optic cable bundle.

In this state, as in most states in which I've plied my trade, contractors are cautioned again and again to "Call Miss Utility" (or something similar) before digging.

Given a little lead time and someone will come out to the dig site, locate buried cables and pipes, and mark No Dig areas.

If our digger fails to have underground utilities marked and cuts cable or pipe, the digger has to pay for repairs.

Fair enough.

But the digger ought to sued by the people and organizations the action inconvenienced.

When the fibre was cut, my organization and several others had telephone service severely reduced.

Fortunately for us, we still have copper coming into the building, but not at the capacity that fibre provided. Bottom line: users had to fight for a line - with other internal users making outbound calls and with incoming calls.

The "oops" came to my attention when someone tried to send a fax and couldn't grab a line.

(Our telephone people already moved communications from the failed fibre to copper.)

Our business continuity for the telephone system considered the copper back up, but it really depended on backing up telephone service with cell phones.

With the fibre cut, I saw the holes in the plan.

True, I can call out using my cell.

If someone calls me - ahh, there might be a problem, unless the caller is smart enough to know that repeatedly hearing a Ring/No Answer or Busy tone is an indication that the phone system has a problem AND if the caller knows my mobile number.

There is an easy work-around providing its put into place before the fact - Mitigation 101.

Either have the phone company redirect calls to a station (we all have dial-direct station numbers) to another (cell?) number or arrange for a virtual PBX that does the same thing. Instead of someone hearing a busy signal when he or she dials my number - 888-555-1212 - the call is redirected to my cell - 866-999-8888. (That, of course is not my cell number.)

But, you'll recall, we had a fellow who wanted to send a fax.

Turns out that with one of my two mobile units I CAN send - and receive - a fax right from (or to) the computer.

I have to download some software (did that) and buy a USB interface cable that connects between my computer and my Sony-Ericsson z520a handset. Since I have international roaming (via AT&T nee' Cingular) on that unit, I can send and receive faxes no matter where I find myself - all I need is a WiFi location (McDonalds is ubiquitous and often has WiFi available).

Will it work? Will my provider's service accommodate faxes? That I don't know. Is it work spending some money for the connecting cable? Maybe.

Sending a fax is easier than receiving a fax, of course, but both can be accomplished.

The other day I was exchanging emails with a fellow practitioner about a Business Continuity symbol. There is Smokey Bear - please, no middle name - and Sparky, McGruff, Woodsy Owl, and Aunt Jemima, and a host of other characters that are familiar to most of us from our childhood.

They are "household" items due to constant exposure.

Say Smokey Bear to a child in 3rd grade or a college fifth-year senior and both think forest fire prevention.

Aunt Jemima, even more than IHOP, means pancakes or flapjacks or hot cakes - depends on your neck o' the woods.

But what about ERM/BC?

The ostrich is good.

My correspondent put a target on the back of one for his Web site.

I like that; in fact I used an ostrich on one of the articles on my own Web site.

But I also like EC's (now DC's) Alfred E. Newman. EC, by the way, stands for "Educational Comics."

Alfred E.'s "What, me worry?" catch phrase represents all the executives who think their organizations are immune to risks even when risks are rearing their ugly head - hurricanes along the Gulf and Atlantic states, earthquakes and tornados almost every where - and those are just a few of the environmental threats!

Maybe a cartoon of Alfred E. with HIS head in the sand would be appropriate?

No matter that - or who - is selected to represent ERM/BC/COOP to "the world," the representation must be ongoing and frequent. Smokey didn't become the recognized spokes bear he is today overnight.

John Glenn, MBCI, SRP
Enterprise Risk Management/Business Continuity
Planner @

No comments: