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Business continuity plans are created to ensure that the products and services provided to clients can continue being delivered after a business interruption occurs. In our experience assisting organizations with their business continuity plan, there is often a strong, primary emphasis on the recovery of systems. Comparatively, personnel recovery is either not well thought out, or omitted entirely from the plan. It is not enough to simply mention personnel; you must consider personnel recovery comprehensively.

Planning for Personnel
Business continuity planning expert Tracy Hall, has worked with some organizations that have employees go to a different office location for their personnel recovery plans.  At first blush this seems reasonable, until a more thorough investigation proves that the infrastructure of the second office may not be able to handle added headcount. A simple question like “are there enough plugs in the building for everyone to power their computers?” can dismantle what would otherwise be a reasonable plan.

It’s important to consider what employees need to complete their work while you determine recovery solutions. If alternate office locations are part of the plan, it must be well documented where each department will relocate to - with evidence that those locations can adequately support the additional employees.

Work from Home
Working from home is becoming more ubiquitous within the workforce and can be a simple personnel recovery solution for certain disruptions. However, if the event causing the disruption is regional, this won’t be a viable solution. Working from home due to a fire at the office works just fine, but it isn’t a solution if a hurricane knocks out power for the whole city.

Personnel are People
When thinking about personnel recovery, don’t lose sight of the fact that employees also lives outside of the office, personal commitments, and families. In the event of a regional disaster, personal concerns may become their primary focus. It’s important to factor this consideration into your plan.

What if the only person who knows how to perform a specific function can’t be reached, or needs to be home with his or her family? A single point of failure can be more detrimental to a recovery plan than a fire in your server room. This brings light to the importance of cross training employees on critical functions.

What Should You Do?
Ensure that personnel are properly accounted for in your institution’s plan. Document what they will need to do, where they will go, and who is back-up for critical functions in the event that the primary person is not available. Remember, you can recover your systems, but without personnel, work can’t commence.

If you have any questions about your business continuity plan, please contact Tracy L. Hall, MBCP, IT Assurance Manager, at 413-726-6884 or thall@wolfandco.com