Monday, February 11, 2008

Business Continuity: ContingenZ calls it!

A few days ago I called my good friend Michael Miora, president of information assurance and business continuity specialists ContingenZ. I dialed his office number but reached him on his cell phone even though he was in the office. The reason? A system error at Verizon had disrupted voicemail services for Michael--and about 740,000 other land-line customers--for several days. He had diverted his office phone to his cell to avoid missed calls, which can translate into missed business.

Michael's an enterprising guy, so he decided to turn this problem into a lesson in incident management, putting a story on the wire and also offering a discount on ContingenZ's incident management product, IMCD. That was this morning. By this afternoon his words of advice were looking quite prophetic as the wires lit up with this story: a critical Blackberry outage.

The message was clear: even if you are a relatively small company you need plans in place for such contingencies. Furthermore, the greater your dependency on a particular service, product, or supplier, the greater the need to plan for its demise, damage, disruption.

Now I would be the first to admit that preparing and documenting an incident management plan is far from exciting, but that is no reason to put it off. And if you want a reason to get on with it, consider the situation faced by one of the first companies to purchase IMCD, a small but growing shipping company that specialized in transporting art work. A much bigger company was looking to sub-contract them, creating a great new source of revenue. However, the big company wanted to see the smaller company's incident management plan before it signed the contract, a simple matter of due diligence.

Not so simple for the smaller company. Although management had a clear idea of what they would do in a variety of disaster scenarios, and some good lists of people to call, assets to protect, and so on, they didn't have this stuff formally documented. Enter IMCD, which automates and facilitates the process of pulling all that documentation together. Result? Contract signed.

[Disclaimer: For a while I was involved in the development of IMCD. However, I do not have a financial stake in the product.]

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