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Editor's Note: 'What's Your Disaster Plan?' May Become Newest Refrain

These days, no company can afford not to have a comprehensive business-continuity strategy in place.
Question: What's the reason your company hasn't implemented or maintained a comprehensive business-continuity plan?

A. It costs too much, even in a strong economy.

B. Time is too precious.

C. Business managers and IT managers don't always see eye to eye on such things.

D. We've never had a serious problem before.

These days, no company can afford not to have a strategy in place. And while a 100% foolproof, never-skip-a-beat business-continuity strategy may not be a reality, there are some impressive examples that could be used as benchmarks. The New York Board of Trade put a lot of thought into its continuity plans in 1993 after a bomb went off in the World Trade Center. It identified a new place to operate in the event of a disaster, hired a disaster-recovery firm to build a backup facility, spent $1.75 million for equipment, agreed to pay that recovery firm $300,000 annually to manage the site, implemented monthly tests to ensure the emergency site was viable, and conducted trial runs every 60 days that included the relocation of employees. It was time well spent considering that the company's 13 trading pits were destroyed on Sept. 11. It also was money well spent considering that the company stands to lose millions each day trading is halted.

Of course, not every company can quantify such downtime. Not every company has been seriously kicked in the pants the way many World Trade Center occupants were in 1993. Not every company can afford to spend that kind of money on backup equipment and recovery services. But then again, not every company will be up and running the next day as the New York Board of Trade was.

So what's the right formula? How much of an IT budget should be spent on business-continuity plans? Who should lead the charge? Should plans be created by individual business units or standardized across the company? How often should continuity plans be revised?

In this week's cover story, editor at large Eric Chabrow, senior editor Martin J. Garvey, and research manager Helen D'Antoni find out how companies are answering some of those questions. Included are the results of an InformationWeek Research survey fielded by PricewaterhouseCoopers. It might not surprise you that more than half of the IT and business managers surveyed will increase spending on business-continuity planning in the next 12 months. What continuity plans is your company implementing to ensure you aren't surprised by anything?

STEPHANIE STAHL
Editor
[email protected]


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To find out more about Stephanie Stahl, please visit her page on the Listening Post.

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