Sunday, April 18, 2010

ERM-BC-COOP: Eyjafjallajokull


Eyjafjallajokull is the volcano in Iceland that recently blew its top, scattering ash across Europe and disrupting flights to and from Europe and the off-shore islands.

Airlines are taking a financial beating due to grounded flights and lack of business interruption insurance.

People slated to fly to, or from, the continent are having "extended" vacations, sometimes in less than 5-Star facilities (as in camped out on airport floors). They have my sympathies.

Poor POTUS*, stuck at home when he was to show the colors at the funeral of the Polish head-of-state. There was no way Air Force 1 could fly into the ash without substantial and expensive damage to the engines.

But POTUS' plight need not effect Jane and John Doe who need to travel for critical business. (Sometimes technology lacks the impact of a face-to-face meeting.)

If I absolutely, positively HAD to be in Amsterdam, a town I really enjoy on its one day of summer, I could get there from here (southeast Florida) with only slight delay.

As this is written, North Africa and Israel are ash-free.

I could board a Delta flight this afternoon to Atlanta connecting to a flight to Lod (in Israel).

From Lod, I'd catch a train outside the airport to the Haifa seaport. In Haifa I could get a boat to "somewhere" in southern Europe - Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal - or Asia - Turkey. From there, I could go by fast, comfortable train to Amsterdam.

True, I would have arrived sooner via a direct flight from here to there, but if my business demanded my presence, there is a way.

Would I have included "volcanic ash interrupting flights" in my business continuity plan? Doubtful.


Finding an alternate route, and in this case, methods, to a destination is something that exercises - not "tests," thank you - uncover. When I plan to move to an alternative site, I DO include maps of primary and alternate routes, but my fanciful flight to Schiphol is such a rare occurrence that it would not even rate a footnote.

On the other hand, if I was planning for a travel agent, I would certainly include alternative travel options I could offer my customers.

I wonder who is picking up the tab for all these travelers "enjoying" extended vacations? My guess is that the airlines will let the passengers fend for themselves; they are covered by "acts of god" clauses. If I was a traveler, and if I had reason to believe the grounded airline would refund the unused portion of my ticket, I'd probably be on my way via alternate methods. The cost of the alternative probably would be no greater than the cost of lingering in a hotel and dining out. (The only problem I could see might - might - be acquiring transit visas.)

Call it thinking like an Enterprise Risk Management practitioner.

* POTUS = President Of The United States

John Glenn, MBCI
Enterprise Risk Management practitioner
Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale Florida
Available for work in - or from - southeast Florida

Thursday, April 8, 2010

ERM-BC-COOP: No experience required


I came across an advertisement the other day that really scares me.

And it's not even fright night.

The ad is offering me a "Business Continuity Plan and Disaster Recovery Plan Template."

Templates are scary enough, but then the ad copy goes to a bullet list that includes

  • An easy to use Microsoft Word (r) template
  • Logical and simple to follow
  • Easy to understand instructions - no experience required!
  • Free and unlimited 12 Months support from expert consultants

All this and more for the paltry sum of US$397.58 (also payable in Aus$ or Euros).

And the blurb promises that the template "Meets compliance requirements (SOX, ITIL, BS25999, ISO 17799/27001, HB 221)."


Oh yes, the ad promised that - for a limited time only - the advertiser will throw in five FREE Business Continuity Templates"

I'm curious about these "expert consultants." Are there any consultants out there - expert of otherwise - who have agreed to provide support for a (relatively) inexpensive software package?

I wonder if the people who cobbled together the software have any business continuity experience. Do they even know - or care - that disaster recovery is NOT business continuity and that D/R is an integral part of BC?

I've been in business continuity for a baker's dozen years and I know that "no experience necessary" almost assures a useless plan that promotes an undeserved level of confidence - "We have a plan so we're safe from all threats." People are injured or die from that level of false confidence; businesses fail despite "The Plan"

OK, there is some sour grapes to this. I worked hard to gain the knowledge I have (and share). Programs promising to create a plan "no experience necessary" cut into my income as well as jeopardizing people and business.

Anyone who expects a "check the box"e plan to save their assets is foolish.

I hope whoever buys and uses this product never needs to use it.

John Glenn, ,MBCI
Enterprise Risk Management practitioner
Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale Florida
JohnGlennMBCI at gmail dot com