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U.S. Winter Outlook: Warmer North, Cooler South – How Will Your Plan Adapt? This Month in Business Continuity

If you’re reading this you already know that September is National Preparedness Month and if you watch Game of Thrones you know that winter is coming. Both are true and September is a great month to celebrate preparedness given that it’s usually the peak month for hurricane activity and yet fall is right around the corner. And now that we’re close to being on the heels of what’s been another blessedly quiet Atlantic tropical storm season, it’s time to shift attention to prep for potential winter disruptions.

Does your winter plan need to be updated? As you discuss what could be cut and what needs to be added, a great motivator for your team is to ask what lessons were learned from last winter. Depending on where you’re based, records both high and low were set across the U.S. and the nastiest of the truly bitter cold didn’t hit the Northeast until late in January and into February. Were any resources mistakenly re-allocated away from preparedness before the severe punch late in the season? What was the impact on the company and what could have been done more efficiently?

2015-09 Weather MapI’ve watched seasonal weather outlooks evolve in quality and specificity for more than 20 years – trust me, they’ve gotten a lot better at it – and NOAA’s current take on a continuing strong El Niño deserves respect – most of the other outlooks I’ve looked at concur with their position. Short version: warmer than usual in the north, colder than usual in the south and some rain for the West Coast, which can be both a good and a bad thing depending on how you feel about flash flooding and mudslides. Be informed, prepare and build robustness to protect against black swans. (And despite all this, always plan for the event, not for the seasonal outlook.)

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Personal Continuity: The Pros and Cons of Medic Alert Apps

We’ve all had ICE contacts on our phones for years and medic alert apps (link spoiler: awesome stock photo!) have been around for a while but now there are some newer ones that provide even more specific information to medical professionals in case of an emergency that involves, well, you. The good news is that these apps provide a great deal of information about you should the need arise. The bad news is that they provide a great deal of information about you to anyone who gets a hold of your phone. Unless you have a severe chronic health issue, is it worth the risk? Let us know what you think in the comments section. Knock on wood, I’m fairly healthy so for now I’m just sticking to the ICE. So to speak.

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Deployment Housing: Perfecting Your Backup Plan

Last week there was yet another great ACP Webinar Series presentation, this time by our own Michelle Lowther entitled, “How To Get What You Need From Hotels When Your Plan (And Your Business!) Depend On It.” If that topic interests you, all I’ll say is that the presentation is most definitely not a commercial and that it garnered a 4.6 out of 5 (92% excellent) average survey ranking by the people who attended live. Go watch and share it around because doing so will make you look good. In a nutshell, it very comprehensively details the many items you need to factor when including deployment housing in your BCP.

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Five Ways To Make The Most of Hotel Loyalty Programs

I’m not a regular follower of something called theeverygirl.com but I saw this the other day and thought it worth passing along. A couple of the pointers are just good common sense but two of them resonate: utilize your points for more than just travel (think local perks) and take advantage of discounts and benefits with program partners.

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Marriott Tests In-Room Virtual Reality Service

With competition ever fiercer, hotels continue to ramp up their customer enticements, and the latest comes from Marriott, piloting virtual reality headsets that guests can borrow for 24 hours at two flagship properties in New York and London. The 16-year-old in me absolutely loves the idea but 95% of what I use a hotel room for, whether traveling for business or pleasure, is to sleep. It’s a neat perk but after a long day of doing whatever, I don’t know if I need to strap on a headset for a quick trip to the Andes. What do you think about this one?

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Saudi King Books Entire Hotel

Speaking of black swans, we’ve all heard of entire floors being booked by royalty but the entire hotel?  How’s THAT for an unexpected potential interruption of your deployment accommodations plan? I worked in VVIP travel and event management for more than 20 years and things like this happen way more often than is covered in the media. Always, always hedge your bets.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or if you’d like a free 30-minute planning session, let us know.

BCP Smart: Make Early December Count So You Can Enjoy The Holidays (and 2015) Even More

It’s only early December but many of us have already experienced a substantial winter weather disruption from last week’s near-historic snowfall and then flooding in the Northeast U.S. And then there’s this week’s crazy amount of rain on the West Coast.  Barring any other similar problems, here are a few ideas to make the most of what’s usually a slow month so that you can leave the office AT the office when the holidays start.

  • buckleSpend a day summarizing this year’s numbers: quantify results and subjectively but accurately reiterate the value to your organization in terms of dollars saved and the crises – big and small – that were avoided or successfully mitigated. Give your boss, and your career, a boost with a short summary of why intelligent BCP counts for your company.
  • Finalize your 2015 budget and consider those previously unconsidered solutions that could very well make 2015’s year-end report even shinier. [Insert shameless plug for the wild range of solutions and savings provided by Continuity Housing here.]
  • After you get those two done, if you find yourself with a little free time on the clock, as always go for some professional self-improvement. Check out Continuity Housing’s YouTube channel for videos on a wide range of topics that you may have missed this year.   We’re always working to help make your job easier and your value to your company even more bullet-proof, and this is where we keep the good stuff.  Well, except for the secret sauce.  We don’t put that in writing anywhere.
  • Ponder a new certification or two for 2015 and think about how you could get the company to co-sponsor or fully fund it. And not all CE efforts have to be ‘official’ in order for them to make you a more valuable contributor to your organization.  Explore CERT training – search local options available by ZIP here – or some of the options available via Ready.gov, which can be a bit on the remedial side for most of us but a little recurrent training never hurt anybody.
  • Consider a life skills or survival course. Get yourself and all of your key, cross-trained managers updated with an in-office, half-day CPR and emergency response course.  The Red Cross offers training but in many regions of the country there are even more in-depth immediate response courses available at a fairly low cost.  What skill have you always admired in others but never tackled yourself?  Make that an achievable resolution for next year as a gift to yourself.
  • If you’re not yet a member, take 5 minutes and go join the Association of Contingency Planners. It’s not expensive, you will benefit from it and . . . it looks good on your LinkedIn profile and résumé.
  • Make your New Year’s resolutions. Admittedly, I never make them.  Bear with me here…  I prefer systems to goals in order to create patterns that lead to success.  But resolutions can be good for thinking outside the box.  (For instance, I’ve long wanted to come up with a replacement to the phrase ‘outside the box’ because it’s tired.)  How about you consider making just two resolutions for how you can better yourself and the processes your coworkers use to increase the value of all of you to your organization?  Easy enough to do, and it involves the whole team (for those of you lucky enough to have one of those).
  • Finally and right before you head out the door for the year, consider hosting a “best new suggestion” contest with your coworkers for what your group might explore in the new year to make your business continuity plan more resilient. No need to award a trip to Tahiti or even an iPad; in general, people get pretty excited about a $25 cash card.  I know I do.  Free money is awesome.
  • All this just a little too ambitious? At the very least, learn something valuable while you’re surfing the web waiting for the 20th or so to get here!

I’m certainly not saying you have to do all of these things, but I hope you’ll pick (and do) your two or three favorites.  Then buckle down for the next couple of weeks and say goodbye to 2014 with a confident smile.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or if you’d like a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.

“When I Grow Up, I Want To Be In Business Continuity Management!”

improvisation“You do what?”  That’s what most of us hear so often when someone asks us what we do for a living.  Dedicated business continuity as a profession is still in its infancy and it still gets a lot of quizzical stares when you talk about it, similar to what IT professionals used to experience in the mid ‘80’s.  “Wait, you mean that’s an actual job?”

So what IS a nice person like you doing in a place this anyway?  Did you know you’d end up on call all the time and working almost 24/7 during some future employers’ crises?  Very few of us actually planned on being in this industry when we were younger.  Sure, maybe we obtained degrees in business or project management and/or have a BC-style background in the military.  But very few of us, even several years into our business careers, were aiming at working in BC or even knew it existed.

I certainly didn’t until an organization I used to work for created a BC division to help their clients.  Once I learned about it, I was all in.  The very concept fascinates me: pre-planned, tested activities that help keep companies strong even if they’re dealt what would previously would have been a mortal blow.  And keeping everybody employed!  Crazy.  And now that I’m here, I’m here to stay.

My education and overall background are in marketing but I come from a restaurant family so we’ve always been involved in hospitality one way or another.  And that’s how I look at business continuity – making sure people are taken care of.  BC takes it a step further, though.  It’s taking care of people as well as possible when they need it the most.  And, more importantly, when their organizations need them to be performing at their best.

shareSo we practice, improve, evolve and always learn from our mistakes.  But the most important thing we can do is pass along what we know.  Mentorship is important in any industry and, just like we once were, there are always new, less informed folks coming in.  I remember my first light bulb moment when I realized not only that business continuity existed but that it was an essential business tool.  I was touring a popular FBO at an airport in the Orlando area and the owner showed me the way they sheltered their backup generator – on a trailer to get it out in the open within moments when they need to operate it – and their backup supplies to keep the business running when the next hurricane hit.  “You think general aviation isn’t pretty important to keep in business after a bad hurricane?” she asked me.  Almost 8 years later I got a big kick out of taking a much younger new coworker to the same place to show her how they prepared for interruptions.  I still remember the “Ohhhhh!” look on her face.

Especially those who have no idea what we do.

So what about you?  How DID a nice person like you end up in a place like this?  Tell us below.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.

 

Don’t Forget to Register: Free, 35-Minute Webinar on Post-Storm Safety and Electric Utility Familiarization

Just a reminder that time is running out to register for our extremely educational and fast-paced 35-minute webinar at 10:30 Central / 11:30 Eastern on Thursday, June 12th.  Space is limited but you can register here now.  The webinar does include a sales pitch that lasts all of about 20 seconds. If there’s a conflict on your schedule, register and you’ll automatically get a link to the video recording the day after the webinar.

register-buttonI’ve been involved in the production of more than 100 webinars in the last 8 years and I’ve probably attended at least 100 more and this is one of the single best general information presentations I’ve ever seen.  The presenter is Warren Rogers, Safety Supervisor – Eastern District for Connecticut Light and Power.  He makes this and similar presentations almost weekly and he does an outstanding job.  I asked him to give me a few bullet points and this is what he sent:

Did you ever wonder . . .

• What is all that stuff on the utility pole and is it dangerous?

• Which is more dangerous, the wires coming to the house or the ones on top of the poles?

• If my family is in a car-versus-pole accident, what should they do to stay alive?

• What can I do to live a long time and not die by electrocution?

Obviously the presentation is not just about storms.  It also deals with your daily exposure to electrical hazards which are much more likely to be the cause of an injury or death.

I rarely suggest to anyone that they should do something because they’ll “be glad they did”; the phrase rings hollow and sounds disingenuous.  But you will.  Register and watch this one.  You’ll realize five minutes after it starts that it’s a great use of your time.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.

Next on the Business Continuity Calendar: Winter’s Finally Winding Down . . . So Here Come the Floods

Winter weather still dominates the headlines but it’s time to think about what’s next.  Typically for the continental U.S., that would be the turbulent spring weather season, which too often includes tornadoes, and then we start focusing on the tropics.  But for many regions of the Plains States and areas east, there’s something else to consider.

Noah, the movie, comes out March 28th and the timing might indeed be prophetic in that the Next Big Weather Story is probably going to be thaw-related flooding.  A much larger than usual portion of the country has been in relative permafrost  the last few months and news coverage of the Great Lakes and even Niagara Falls has been astonishing.

Lake-Michigan

The St. Joseph Lighthouse on North Pier, Lake Michigan, Jan. 6, 2014. Photo: canadianawareness.org

Bad weather is the leading cause of business disruptions* but the good news is that, as opposed to many other types of interruptions, we can prepare for it.  Keep an eye on where the flooding will probably have the greatest impact and make sure your company is as prepared for it as possible, especially if any of your assets are in regions that will be potentially affected.

Just as importantly, consider whether any of your vendors or suppliers are in a potential flood region and remember that your customers might also be affected and that the effect on those suppliers might affect how your organization provides services to those customers when they need it.

flowing-waterFlooding is bad, much worse than most people realize.  In addition to causing widespread property damage, flooding is the number one weather-related cause of death in the U.S. (see yellow 30-year average column).  And remember to never, ever drive through flowing water – or ANY water if you’re not exactly sure of the depths involved – and to be extremely careful when traversing flood waters on foot.  The rule of thumb is that each knot of speed of flowing water is equal to 20 knots of wind speed.  A single inch of rapidly flowing water can knock a person down and carry him or her away and vehicles can be swept away in only 6 inches of moving water.

Finally, keep an eye on changes in flood insurance regulations. ‘Guaranteed’ coverage looks like it will soon favor property owners but the pendulum of legislation on different types of coverage is swinging fairly wide lately.  And any changes in flood insurance regulations usually take a while to go into effect.  Make sure you’re covered and start by checking to see whether or not any of your assets are in flood zones using the official flooding maps that were updated just last month.  And then let’s hope March doesn’t go out like a lion.

* Top 3 Leading Causes of Business Disruptions: 1. severe weather, 2. power outages (commonly weather-related); 3. IT failure (occasionally weather-related): Forrester Research / Disaster Recovery Journal Business Continuity Plan Survey, December 2011.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.

Continuity Insights in New Orleans in Late April – Why Should You Really Go?

The Continuity Insights Management Conference 2014 will be in New Orleans this year and it runs from 28-30 April.  There are several BC conferences around the country and CI is one of my favorites because they not only make the most compelling case for why you should go but also provide you with ample ammunition in the event that you need to convince someone else – boss, client, spouse? – that you should go.  I noticed justification letters popping up on the top pages of various industry trade shows starting several years ago but CI really ramps it up by providing an easily customizable letter that lets you drop in the relevant bits of information and you’re good to go.

Photo: Fred Rogers

Photo: Fred Rogers

So the convincing of others is taken care of but how do you convince yourself?  Advances in technology and the tightening of budgets over the last 15 years have made it ever more difficult to rationalize taking valuable time away from your job and other responsibilities and traveling, in some cases across the country, to meet people, attend specialized sessions and hit the exhibit floor.  Sure, there’s the standard spate of elements to absorb and benefit from such as information on BC program development and methodology, risk management, emerging issues and IT disaster recovery.  But you can get all that online.  The real reason to go is for the intangibles:

  • Meeting new people from faraway places and learning from them.
  • Renewing and improving friendships and relationships that permanently enhance your aggregate resources.
  • Attending can help take you to the next level of your career, which is great both for you and for your organization.  Check out the full list of presentations as of today.
  • You can earn continuing education credits.
  • If you haven’t been to ANY business continuity professional events in a year or more, attending will provide you with a shiny reboot on any of your current or future BC efforts, especially if you’re experiencing a hitch in your giddy-up.
  • It’s not just about BC.  I’ve attended and managed corporate presence in several different industries over the last 25 years and I continue to be amazed at the number of people I benefit from having met even years later and despite the fact that we haven’t worked in the same industry for a very, very long time.
  • An added benefit: Continuity Housing principal Michelle Lowther will be presenting on the first day of the show on Securing Guaranteed Housing For Critical Personnel: The pre-arrangement of guaranteed housing for critical staff in the event of a fail-over deployment is crucial. Professional guidance is essential in order to safeguard your hotel arrangements so that you have a watertight, worry-proof contract for staff housing. Attend this interactive presentation to learn best practices for securing guaranteed housing in the event of a disruption. Michelle is an outstanding, extremely informative presenter.  I know because I’ve seen her present to large groups  a number of times.
  • It’s in New Orleans. (Go to Crescent City Brewhouse on Decatur and get the Oysters Three Ways.  You’ll thank me.)
Sample of Michelle Lowther presenting. Click through to play. 01:32.

Sample of Michelle Lowther presenting. Click through to play. 01:32.

Most importantly, to paraphrase a former secretary of defense, we don’t know what we don’t know.  And while the business continuity profession tends to lean less toward the competitiveness found in most industries and more toward a sense of shared community and the benefit of all, it’s always best to take advantage of whatever learning opportunities there are in order to keep you personally and professionally competitive . . . and make your company or organization more resilient.

And did I mention that it’s in New Orleans?  Register today and attend.

(Shameless plug: follow me @ContHsg_Fred.)

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.


Reporting From An Evacuation: What It’s Really Like To Be Onsite of a Business Disruption Deployment

In days of yore, one might be a dentist or an attorney or a blacksmith or a plumber.  However, in our ever more specialized business world, many of us often have to explain a little more diligently what it is that we do for a living.  For us it’s no different.  “Wait, you provide what for who and when??”

Karen specializes in managing the deployment logistics for assets in the deepwater Gulf for several years.  She’s an expert in this niche market with multiple deployments and Continuity Housing depends on her for offshore deployment perfection.

Karen specializes in managing the deployment logistics for assets in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico for several years. She’s an expert in this niche market with multiple deployments and Continuity Housing depends on her for offshore deployment perfection.

So we asked Karen Williams of Conference Direct to go in to a little more detail about what a deployment housing expert does.  Karen joined ConferenceDirect in 2007 and prior to that spent more than 20 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy followed by almost 10 years as the Business Manager/Conference Manager for a national healthcare association.  As with everyone on our team, she has a substantial number of years of experience dealing with the unexpected during deployments.

Continuity Housing: What kinds of events typically trigger a deployment?

Karen Williams: [Most of the] events that typically trigger a deployment [for the clients I work with] are weather-related.  I’ve dealt with tropical storms or hurricanes that pose a threat to assets in the Gulf of Mexico.  An “atypical” trigger would be the large oil spill related to the Deepwater Horizon incident where we were deployed for extended periods over an 18-month period.

CH: What’s the largest deployment you’ve ever managed?

KW: We’ve managed one that encompassed over 45,000 personnel being deployed and in need of housing & concierge services but normal deployments I’ve managed deal with anywhere from 200-225 personnel.

CH: What do your typical duties include, say, with the assets in the deepwater Gulf?

KW: My typical duties are three-fold:  pre-deployment, onsite and post-deployment.

Pre-deployment, wherein I’m in weekly contact with the Asset Managers who would be affected in the case of a weather-related incident which would cause a deployment.  I verify the number of personnel who would require housing, confirm contact information and answer questions they may have.

On-Site for which I’m at the heliport (or whatever point of entry is used) to ensure that personnel know where they will be staying during the duration of the deployment.  I also coordinate rooming lists between the Asset Manager and the various hotels, serve as a single point-of-contact for all communications to the hotels, mediate any concerns between the deployed personnel and the hotels and monitor that the rooming lists are being adhered to and that the personnel are actually staying in the hotels they were assigned.  I meet with each of the hotel managers.  Once personnel start returning to their assigned assets, I ensure that they’ve properly checked out of their assigned hotels and that the hotels have an accurate room-night count.

Post-deployment when I follow up with each Asset Manager to make sure their needs were met and gather any feedback they may have.  I also gather all information needed to prepare the invoicing for the hotels.

CH: What do your atypical duties include?

KW: Anything you can imagine, from breaking up fights at 2am in one of the hotels because someone decided they didn’t want to share a room and started swearing at the front desk clerk, to politely letting someone know why we aren’t authorized to provide housing for his wife & kids at the client’s expense.

CH: How much sleep do you actually get when you’re deployed?

KW: Seeing how my phone usually starts ringing at 5am and most times doesn’t stop until about 11pm during a deployment, I typically sleep about 4-5 hours a night.

CH: What’s involved in the preparation for a deployment?

KW: Once I’ve been given the green light to deploy, I first call all the Asset Managers, get their exact rooming requirements and let them know that we have their hotels ready for them.  I email each one a customized rooming list which outlines their hotel assignment and the exact number of room types they are allowed (doubles and/or kings).  They complete the list, return it to me and I email to the appropriate hotel.  I grab my bag (always packed & ready), make flight reservations or gas up my car to drive, and am on my way to the deployment site.

Weather-related deployments usually have about a 24-48 hour notice prior to the time I have to be onsite.  I track the weather right along with the client’s trackers just so I can keep a step ahead.

CH: What’s your favorite city and why, relevant to ease of amenities for clients?

KW: So far, my favorite city based on ease of amenities for clients is New Orleans.  Everything is in walking distance for personnel who had been evacuated.  Second favorite city would be Houma, LA.  Even though it’s a much smaller area, most of the hotels we used were in one central location, had in-house dining options, ample room amenities and were very easy to deal with.  Local dining options were not hard to find.

CH: What’s the oddest situation you’ve ever had to encounter?

KW: The oddest situation I had to deal with was an individual who didn’t feel he had to share a room (which was required by the client).  He decided to argue with the front desk clerk at his assigned hotel, cuss at her very loudly and repeatedly and even tried to jump over the counter to approach her.  His supervisor and I had to intervene and eventually he left the hotel to provide for his own accommodations.

CH: What’s the ‘real’ value of the service you provide?

KW: It’s two-fold.  Most importantly, I provide a peace-of-mind transition for personnel who are being evacuated under a stressful situation.  They know that they’re going to be taken care of, have a roof over their heads and they don’t have to lift a finger.  But I also provide a one-stop shop for the hotels so they can streamline their check-in process for the evacuees and also have a streamlined invoicing process after the evacuees check-out.

williams-pullCH: What’s the longest deployment you’ve ever managed?

KW: The longest deployment I’ve even been involved in managing was the response to the Deepwater Horizon incident.  The housing & concierge services portion of this deployment lasted 18 months and I spent a total of 3,500 hours over the course of 315 days onsite.  The longest deployment separate from that has been 7 days onsite.

CH: What’s the most interesting or challenging part of your profession?

KW: I love working with all different kinds of people and being able to make their jobs and their lives easier and less stressful.  Anything I can do to help has always been my way of life.

CH: What’s the most critical personal asset that you personally use in managing a successful deployment?

KW: Maintaining a calm, organized, level demeanor at all times is the most critical asset I use during every deployment.  [Although I spent almost 10 years managing conference for a national healthcare association,] I didn’t have any prior hotel or hospitality training before joining the Continuity Housing Team.  I would say my 20+ years in the military has best prepared me for handling my concierge logistics duties.

CH: Have you ever had to cancel a personal event in order to meet a deployment requirement?

KW: During the incident in the Gulf, I did miss some birthdays and holidays; everyone who was a part of that experience did all we could to help out.  For the weather-related deployments, I’ve only had to reschedule one personal event.  I have a very understanding family!

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.

The Sandy Boardwalk Fire and Long-Term Thinking After A Substantial Impact

News late last week that the devastating New Jersey Boardwalk fire was caused by damage to electrical wiring as the result of Sandy sent a special kind of groan through the souls of business continuity professionals everywhere.  The idea that something so terrible could have been caused so long after the initial event is only eclipsed by the original nightmare of destruction left behind by the storm.  But even more chilling is the realization that the fire might have been prevented if a standard or more thorough review had been instituted during the post-storm repair and reconstruction process.

Photo: ABC

Photo: ABC

I’m not pointing fingers nor am I playing a cold game of what-if.  We can’t predict the future and events such as the fire clearly illustrate that not every plan is perfect.  What we can do is utilize our knowledge of what happened to remind ourselves that absolute vigilance is paramount.

Just over two years ago I posted about the secondary damage wrought by the drought of 2011.  The drought is still bad in many areas of the Southwest U.S. and Plains states but the worst of the experience, the heat and the utter lack of rainfall, happened that year and it was ugly.  The immediate results were plainly and painfully evident but one of the longer-term, ‘surprise’ remnants has been the continuing devastation to large dead or still-dying trees, some of which bear some very large limbs.  Hurricanes can cause long-term damage like that but drought-stricken trees are insidious in that they take their time to fall apart and do damage, even now almost two years later.

Whether it’s from a hurricane or an earthquake or an act of terrorism, whenever there’s a severe enough impact to our environment that there’s a business failure (or worse), there’s the preparation – sometimes robust, other times not so much – the onset of the calamity which may or not be foreseen, the event itself, the response, the recovery . . . and then the review afterwards that hopefully yields a better plan for the next time.  What matters most, always, is how thorough that review is and what new elements can be brought in to make it even better.  Unfortunately, all too often the review, if it’s conducted at all, is a rote series of pronouncements that, “Yeah, we should probably do that part better next time.”

sophie_and_franzWe’ve all heard and read anecdotes about “accidents of history” that yielded onerous or marvelous results.  I heard for the first time a few weeks ago that the setup for the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo just shy of 100 years ago was the result of their driver turning down the wrong street.  Which is not to say that World War One wouldn’t have started if he’d stuck to the correct route.  But it reminds us that we have to think not only about what happens after a disaster but what might happen way after one strikes.


Video Posted for “Establishing a Fail-Over Site: Perfecting the Equation of Where to Work AND Where to Sleep”

Click to play.

Click to play.

On Wednesday we hosted a webinar with Steven O’Neal of Rentsys Recovery Services wherein we followed one corporation’s successful fail-over from their headquarters in Houston to their fully functioning recovery site in Dallas. We showed how more than 50 of the company’s employees are able to easily and quickly deploy and benefit from the pre-assembly of several key requirements so that they’re able to keep the company operational despite a category 3 hurricane making landfall near Houston.

The presentation was an “assembled hypothetical” based on the experiences of several different deployments but we also shared a real case study of another company that did it the wrong way and suffered greatly as a result.

And the presentation was a hit.  We posted it on YouTube if you’d like to watch.  It’s almost an hour (!) but it’s a lot of very good information.  Take a look, enjoy and learn.

Serious Hurricane Season Prep Live and in Person at the 24th Annual Hurricane Symposium

The start of the 2013 Atlantic tropical hurricane season – June 1st – is rushing this way and that means a return of the most comprehensive hurricane preparation for business is also on the calendar.  In its 24th year, the Annual Hurricane Symposium is hosted by ImpactWeather and this year they’re offering two different symposia: one for offshore concerns on May 14th and one for onshore organizations on May 16th.  Continuity Housing is pleased to have once again been asked to participate in this informative, educational and often entertaining gathering.

The offshore meeting will be a full morning with breakfast served at the Marriott Westchase in the Energy Corridor area of west Houston and the onshore gathering will be a day-long meeting with lunch at the Stafford Centre in Stafford, TX about 20 miles southwest of Houston.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYWlnr1uXOM?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]

Initially started as a small focus group and learning opportunity for clients of ImpactWeather, this annual meeting has grown to become the preeminent gathering of hurricane preparation and business continuity professionals from all over the country.

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Michelle Lowther

Making sure your critical personnel have guaranteed housing during a business disruption is first on the list of any resilient continuity plan, so among the many BC professionals presenting at the onshore symposium on May 16th, Continuity Housing principal Michelle Lowther will present on “Guaranteed Housing After A Disaster: Negotiating the Pitfalls So Your Critical Personnel Have Hotel Rooms.”  Michelle previously presented at the 22nd annual hurricane symposium in 2011 and the demand for information on the topic was such that she was invited by the organizers to return.

“We really look forward to this Symposium each year,” says Michelle, “because it provides a great venue for business continuity leaders from all kinds of industries to get together and share notes on how to best prepare for the season.  It’s amazing what you can learn from people who work in entirely different fields than your own and it’s those light bulb moments that have kept this event growing more and more each year.”

Attendees can register for either or both days and a discount is offered for those who attend both meetings.  For more information and to register, go to hurricaneseminar.com.  And we invite you as always to send questions about preparations for guaranteed housing for critical personnel in the event of a business disruption to michelle@continuityhousing.com.