“You may need to enable teleworking for a lot more staff very quickly. Do you have plans and infrastructure that can cope?” he adds.
James Turner, analyst at IBRS, says that IT managers and CIOs should avoid the mistake of suddenly opening all the locks “just because there could be an epidemic”. Concerns about the security of an organisations operations should be foremost in mind.
“The main risk is for those who are caught by surprise by any epidemic and suddenly decide to leap into untried technologies and processes just to work around the situation,” he says. “That’s how we end up with sensitive information being thrown around and potentially being forgotten -- until it comes back to haunt people.”
Chances are, swine flu will be just a small note in history, says Dematic’s Davies, but he stresses that concern over the spread also gives CIO an opportunity to show their value to the business.
“It’s really not IT’s role to run a BCP, but it tends to fall to us as we have been so mature in having a DR plan in place,” Davies says. “However, it’s definitely a way for IT to show some leadership and a good way to get involved in all the areas of the business.”
SIDEBAR: Gartner’s tips for organisations during a pandemic:
- Go to www.pandemicflu.gov to find out the actions the US government recommends to ensure workforce safety and continuous business operations.
- Download and examine the FFIEC’s Pandemic Flu Exercise of 2007 After Action Report immediately, and disseminate their findings across your organisation.
- Monitor Australian government updates here
- Emphasise the urgency of performing personal hygiene disciplines that will inhibit the spread of the virus.
- Identify existing and projected critical skills shortages; and initiate staff cross-training, testing and certification. Make sure that cross-trained personnel are also given the appropriate access rights in your applications. This is the longest lead-time and most disruptive of the improvements.
- Determine which business operations are sustainable, at what level, and likely durations of downtime for normal business operations with staff absentee rates of 40 percent. Test for various combinations of leaders and skilled staff.
- Testing should start immediately to isolate and remediate problem areas. Testing should be rigorous, inventive, ongoing and documented.