Continuity Plan is snowed in Monday, February 02, 2009
Image via WikipediaI'm a Brit and so obviously I am going to talk about the weather! Today, most of the South East of England is snowed in with airports closed, trains cancelled and buses not running, whilst many roads are impassible. Of course, many countries would consider this a light covering of snow and will laugh at our helplessness, but at the same time one has to remember it is increasingly rare to get heavy snow in the South of the UK - this is the heaviest snow fall for 18 years.
However, the subject of this post is not to debate the weather per se but to make a couple of observations:
- the websites of transport operators crashed under the weight of enquiries: Whilst the conditions may have prompted new peaks in hits, it demonstrates that these firms don't have any or sufficient "on-demand" technology expansion facilities in place or if they do, they may be reliant on absent staff to activate them.
- Last year JP and I were discussing the lunacy of disaster recovery thinking amongst City firms which tends to fixate on having a replica site, normally located some distance outside of London. In our view, in the event of a disaster, most staff will more inclined to return to their families and homes than travel to a DR site, assuming that transport links are even operating. Instead we both felt that it was better to spend money on allowing staff to work from anywhere i.e. remote working facilities. This approach caters for DR situations as well as having day-to-day practical uses. As demonstrated today, with many City workers unable to travel to their offices or a DR site, those without remote working facilities will be at a disadvantage to those with staff able to seamlessly work from home.
- the fragility of our infrastructure and supply chains is exposed by a snow flurry, albeit we assume that this will be a temporary aberation with several days inconvenience followed by days of "recovery" as supply chains attempt to catch up. Yet it is a superficial foretaste of other probable natural disasters e.g. a flu pandemic which would force families into isolation and expose the complete dependency we have on things like supermarket supply chains, water and power services operations and health services - their staff would be similarly isolated and unable/unwilling to perform duties that we presently take for granted.
- Many companies will also find their customers aren't transacting with them today e.g. retail outlets whose customers will be unable/disclined to venture out to shop depriving them of sales. The minority that have failed to invest in adequate online facilities will find themselves at an disadvantage.
Labels: Supply chain