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Your Business Continuity Plan Won’t Work Without People: How you should address personnel recovery

If you have a business continuity plan, you developed it to ensure that your products or services to your customers can continue being delivered after a business interruption. In our experience with clients that often means a strong emphasis on the recovery of systems. Much of our conversation is dedicated to how organizations will recover their technologies in an outage. But what happens if your people are not available to use those technologies? Personnel recovery is just as important a part of any Business Continuity Plan.

Planning for People

It’s not enough to simply mention personnel; you must consider personnel recovery comprehensively. We have seen organizations whose personnel recovery plan is to have everyone working at a different office location. This seems reasonable, until a more thorough investigation proves that the secondary location’s infrastructure can’t handle the added headcount. A simple question like “are there enough plugs in the building for everyone to power their computers?” can dismantle what would have otherwise been a reasonable plan. It’s important to consider what an employee needs in order to complete their work while determining recovery solutions. If alternate office locations are part of the plan, it must be well documented which departments will relocate, and where – 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 to 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 or building shutdown at the office works just fine, but as a solution to a hurricane knocking out power to a whole city, you’d better have some other option.

Personnel are People

When thinking about personnel recovery, don’t lose sight of the fact that these are people with personal lives, families, and emotions. They have to drive cars or take public transit; that need to eat and sleep. In the event of a regional disaster, personal concerns may become the primary focus for your employees. It’s important to be sure this is considered in 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? This single point of failure can be more detrimental to a recovery plan than a fire in your server room, and highlights the importance of cross training employees on critical functions.

Your personnel is the blood of your organization, ensuring all systems are running correctly. The presence and movement of your personnel need to be documented within your plan. Document what they will need to do, where they will go, and who can back up a procedure if the primary person is not available. You can recover your systems but if you don’t recover your people, you won’t be able to start working again.