In early March we saw a number of articles talking about the risk of the Northwest to an earthquake similar to the one that devastated Chile. We’ve heard about the fault off our west coast that has been dormant for several hundred years, and that it in fact might wake up some day — nothing new right? During recent computer simulations of a “hypothetical” 9.0 quake it was determined that the shaking could last as long as up to 5 minutes. That would rattle the Seattle, Portland and Vancouver areas significantly. It’s no secret that a quake of that magnitude would severely affect the infrastructure in those major cities. Business as we know it would be disrupted as well. Buildings that were constructed in the Seattle prior to 1994 are expected to collapse due to the lesser building codes under which they were built.
Disaster Managers throughout the region are working to strengthen the infrastructure to withstand a major seismic jolt, but they won’t be able to touch everything. Even if your structure withstands the rocking and rolling, it’s highly likely your business will still be disrupted due to the damage to the surrounding infrastructure. How long can you afford to be away from your business? What are the expectations of your local clients? They may understand for a period time because they too will be unable to get around. Do you provide products and services to those outside the area? What are their expectations? This may put a different spin on things.
In the interest of the survival of your business you should consider geographical diversity. Not necessarily a “second place of business” but at a minimum, from a business continuity perspective. You should develop a plan that allows you to respond to the event, to resume your critical business functions and processes, and to recover your business over time – you should consider an alternative outside the region and away from the seismic risk. For example, a few years back Forbes Magazine published a list of the safest cities in the US. Four out of the top five were in the Inland Northwest. They were Boise, Yakima, Spokane and the Tri-Cities. Here at IT-Lifeline, as a provider of business continuity services, we not only take pride in our location, but also in the technology environment that we’ve put together in support of an organization that experiences any major business disruption – including that 9.0 shaker.
It’s your choice – wait and assume the risk or take action and put a viable business continuity solution in place. The success of your business will depend on it. Remember, scientists cannot predict when a quake will occur, but they are certain that one will happen.
How comfortable are you with your business continuity planning efforts? Does it meet regulatory expectations? Could you respond to a significant business disruption? Does the plan ensure timely resumption of operations and processes during adverse circumstances? Could you recover your business over time? Does it reflect your current business operating environment? Have you considered conducting a strategic audit of your business continuity planning process?
Someone once said “if you don’t know where you’ve been, it’s hard to figure out where you are. If you don’t where you are, how can you decide where you want to go? If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Interesting, but how does that apply to the auditing of your business continuity plan you ask?
There is great value in reviewing the road an organization has traveled to get to the place it is today as it relates to their business continuity planning process. A best practices audit helps paint a picture of the level preparedness resident in the business continuity plan. A clear picture of how your organizations resources have been allocated enables you to see where your assets (people, capital, facilities, and equipment) have been deployed. If you have invested time, effort and real dollars in the business continuity planning process, by reviewing the returns associated with these investments, you will be able to make decisions with inherently more confidence and higher expectation of superior results. In our current economy and at time of event this could make a significant difference. Find out if the road you took to get you there was indeed the right one.
Perhaps now is the time to consider conducting an audit of your business continuity planning process? Conducting a best practices audit will answer all the questions noted above and perhaps offer you a better night’s sleep.