Staff sidelined in business continuity disaster recovery plans

Employees are being overlooked in organisational disaster recovery plans, according to a report.

The report by disaster recovery service company SunGard, based on interviews with business continuity practitioners, urged business to prioritise human risk when developing recovery and continuity plans.

Speaking at a SunGard Availability Services roundtable event, Peter Thomson, director of the Future Work Forum at Henley Management College, said: “Business continuity is not only about IT. There needs to be a human recovery plan, and it should involve human resources and facilities managers.”

He added that people need to be managed like a resource, but companies tend to assume staff will always be available.

The report identifies outbreaks of disease, staff kidnapping, fear, confusion, and disruptions to public communication and transport systems as risks that could affect the productivity of an organisation and its supply chain.

According to separate research from the London Chamber of Commerce, only 41% of the FTSE 250 are fully prepared for forced relocation from their premises.

This raises questions about many companies’ ability to deal with moving staff to alternative workplaces, handle homeworking, and manage trauma.

The London bombings in July 2005 highlighted the importance of paying attention to staff in disaster planning.

Colin Davis, deputy operations director at the British Medical Journal, said the company’s continuity plan worked well from a technical point of view after the bombings, but employees did not have guidelines on what to do, who to contact, or how to access systems remotely.

And Ian Houghton, continuity manager at insurer Royal & SunAlliance, added that while people were the key to the success of any business, many recovery plans did not deal with the human side of things.

He said plans should include regular contact with staff, measures to guide staff when IT services are not available, and how to deal with injury or death.

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