Six years on from 9/11 and disaster planning still takes a back seat

On the sixth anniversary of the 11 September terrorist attacks, a business expert has reiterated the need to train staff in how to work through a disaster.

Lyndon Bird, technical services director at the Business Continuity Institute, said UK businesses are not doing enough to prepare staff to work with IT systems in a disaster.

He said firms had made good progress on technology recovery, but they needed to train staff in how to work in a crisis like a terrorist attack.

“Many organisations do not spend sufficient time or budget on staff training,” he said, adding that without trained staff, even the most automated operation would fail.

Steve Salmon, business continuity consultant at auditing firm KPMG, said that post-9/11 he had seen more companies draft recovery plans and increase funding for business continuity projects.

However, he cited flaws in many plans because of their emphasis on testing technology recovery, rather than how staff would use the systems to maintain business practices.

“More companies need to train employees to work with IT systems under live test conditions. They must also explain to staff what their responsibilities are in a crisis and train them to be multi-skilled so that they can keep key business processes going,” said Salmon.

The London Chamber of Commerce, which represents 3,500 businesses, called on the government to offer financial incentives to encourage proper contingency planning by businesses.

“For smaller firms, these incentives could cover the initial cost of setting up and testing a continuity plan, and larger firms could be rewarded if they form partnerships to advise smaller businesses,” said a spokesman.

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