Wayne, Pa., March 18, 2010 — Without a business continuity program in place, even a minor disruption to systems, facilities or other key resources can potentially halt operations, impact customers or harm the financials of an organization, according to SunGard Availability Services.
“It is essential for organizations to understand how an unplanned outage would impact their business and know the steps they need to take to respond effectively,” said William Hughes, director, Consulting Services BC/DR practice, Center of Excellence, at SunGard Availability Services. “You have to take a holistic view of not only threats to availability but also threats to your business continuity program’s continued viability.”
“A business continuity program should be built around realistic situations and assumptions, and incorporate preventive and reactive measures. It also should have a built-in means to drive continual improvement and focus beyond just continuity planning – also addressing organizational awareness and preparedness. Some organizations, unfortunately, may have misplaced confidence in their preparedness which could lead to weaknesses being exposed at the worst possible time – during a business outage or disaster,” said Mr. Hughes.
In advance of Business Continuity Awareness Week, which takes place March 22 to 26, SunGard Availability Services explores five business continuity myths and the lessons organizations can learn from them. The business continuity myths are:
It’s all about natural disasters. While natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, garner the bulk of attention, industry research shows power failures, IT hardware, software and network outages and human error are much more likely to cause business disruption. The lesson for organizations is they need to be prepared for all potential causes of business disruption. More often than not, it will be a “quiet catastrophe” related to hardware or process failure that, over time, generates the most significant threat to your business continuity.
We have a plan, so we are ready. Creating a business continuity plan is an important step, but not the end state. It takes more than words on paper or a computer screen to enable readiness. Business continuity preparedness means having a living program – which is continually validated, communicated, tested, updated and improved. It means having an organization that is “situation ready” – with skills honed through training and supported by robust planning tools to respond to a significant business disruption. Your organization should be so well prepared that it only needs the plan for reference or as a guide, not as the playbook, when undergoing an exercise or disaster.
Any disaster will be a singular event. Too often, organizations plan for “simple” situations – “my data center has been disabled” – where the event occurs and all that needs to happen in response is to pick up the pieces. Recent events in Haiti and Chile have shown disasters can be a series of inter-related, changing scenarios that make responding to the situation much more complex than for a singular event. Business continuity programs need to prepare an organization for a situation that is continually evolving, whether due to changes in the primary source of the disruption, after-effects or new information or players emerging. Anticipating these events will force your organization to examine closely key assumptions and response constructs, and build in plan flexibility, infrastructure resiliency and contingencies upon contingences to improve preparedness.
Vendors and customers will come to our aid. Organizations cannot assume vendors will be there to support them or that customers will empathize with the situation. Business continuity plans should prepare an organization to get through a disaster on its own and without losing customers. To achieve these objectives, it is critical your organization be customer focused, communicate to all constituents, and have employees know their roles and responsibilities even if they are not part of the “recovery” team.
We have tested our plan, so we’re ok. In business continuity, it’s about overall readiness, not the plan. Organizations should always look to improve. A successful test of a plan doesn’t mean your organization can’t find room to improve. Every company needs to ask: what level of preparedness did our organization set for itself? What objectives were set? Was the scope such that the organization knows it will be ready – or was the exercise just a technology recovery procedure test? And how has the company gotten better over time? Organizations must raise the bar when testing and work to get better – continually looking for ways to fail in an exercise so they find ways to succeed.
SunGard’s Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery practice is dedicated to helping organizations plan for the unexpected, maintain operations and meet regulatory demands. SunGard consultants have helped thousands of customers prepare for a business disruption with risk assessments, business impact analyses, response plan development, program management, validation exercises and strategies that drive ongoing improvement. SunGard has available a free, online Business Continuity Toolkit that provides planning and technical resources to help organizations improve preparedness.
About SunGard Availability ServicesSunGard Availability Services provides disaster recovery services, managed IT services, information availability consulting services and business continuity management software to more than 10,000 customers in North America and Europe. With five million square feet of datacenter and operations space, SunGard assists IT organizations across virtually all industry and government sectors to prepare for and recover from emergencies by helping them minimize their computer downtime and optimize their uptime. Through direct sales and channel partners, we help organizations ensure their people and customers have uninterrupted access to the information systems they need in order to do business. To learn more, visit www.availability.sungard.com or call 1-484-582-2000.
About SunGardSunGard is one of the world’s leading software and technology services companies. SunGard has more than 20,000 employees and serves 25,000 customers in 70 countries. SunGard provides software and processing solutions for financial services, higher education and the public sector. SunGard also provides disaster recovery services, managed IT services, information availability consulting services and business continuity management software. With annual revenue exceeding $5 billion, SunGard is ranked 435 on the Fortune 500 and is the largest privately held business software and IT services company.
Trademark Information: SunGard and SunGard logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of SunGard Data Systems Inc. or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and other countries. All other trade names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.