Category: Training and Exercises

“Maintaining & Auditing Business Continuity Programs- A Plan for a Municipality”

” Maintaining and Auditing a Business Continuity Program- A Plan for a Municipality“ February 12, 2011 by Andrew M. Amalfitano CONTENTS I.  Introduction.. 3 II. Plan.. 4 Key Plan Steps: 4 1. On-going. 4 2. Awareness and Launch.. 4 3. Implement. 5 4. Considerations. 5 III. Audit. 5 Standards. 6 Audit Elements. 8 Process. 8 […]

Sunday February 13th, 2011 in Business Continuity Management, Continuity of Operations Plan - COOP, Tools, Templates, Software, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on “Maintaining & Auditing Business Continuity Programs- A Plan for a Municipality”

Internal or External Auditors or Both?

Business Continuity Plan Audits can be done by internal or external individuals. There is value in each approach. In either case, the person(s) conducting the audit should be competent, impartial, and objective. When internally done, the auditor should not be from the group and should not be responsible for any of the activities being reviewed […]

Sunday February 6th, 2011 in Business Continuity Management, Organizational Resilience, Risk Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Internal or External Auditors or Both?

Tying Bonuses to BC Plan Goals

If an auditor determines that some license was taken in reporting of status on previous audits, it should be included as a data point in the current audit.  Generally, keeping within the scope of the audit parameters, an auditor can identify non-conformance as factual, regardless of previous attempts to smooth over data or report more […]

Sunday February 6th, 2011 in Business Continuity Management, Organizational Resilience, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Tying Bonuses to BC Plan Goals

Transparency: One AAR

When documenting the results and outcomes of a disaster exercise only one report is necessary and that is the After Action Report. In it there is ample opportunity to record, exhibit, explain, and present all findings including improvement opportunities. If a manager asked that there be two separate AAR’s, one internal and one external, I […]

Wednesday February 2nd, 2011 in Business Continuity Management, Continuity of Operations Plan - COOP, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Transparency: One AAR

Executive Presentations (of Exercise Results)

[Good] Corporate executives have long had a reputation of wanting crisp answers to specific questions. They also appreciate a fine blend of strategic thinking mixed with data-driven recommendations. When we conduct a disaster exercise, we presumably already have the buy-in of the champions. However, not everyone who will sit in on the executive presentation of […]

Tuesday February 1st, 2011 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Executive Presentations (of Exercise Results)

Avoid Editorial Opinion in Your AAR

When an After Action Report is developed it should be based on facts observed and discovered during the exercise. Sometimes, editorials and opinions make their way into the feedback and documented findings that are used to create the AAR. These reports should never be altered and should be retained as originally submitted. However, not every […]

Saturday January 29th, 2011 in Business Continuity Management, Tools, Templates, Software, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Avoid Editorial Opinion in Your AAR

Maintaining BC Plans

The primary issue to consider regarding business continuity plan maintenance begins with early involvement of a team of representatives from each key department or function. Early on in the process, particularly for a Continuity of Operations Plan-COOP, public sector functions throughout the city need to understand that ongoing updates and maintenance are essential to the […]

Thursday January 20th, 2011 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Maintaining BC Plans

Manage “Stonewalling” During and Exercise

An actual disaster exercise can be quite dynamic. Just because the exercise design team planned the event down to the most finite detail does not mean that the event will go exactly as planned. People make judgments based on ever changing information and data in real life and will do the same during a disaster […]

Saturday January 15th, 2011 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Manage “Stonewalling” During and Exercise

Giving the Exercise Plan Out Too Soon

In general, it is not a good idea to give out the disaster exercise plan to the participants in advance of the event. I can think of one situation when it would be OK to do so: If the narrative is of a broad regional basis and the exercise clock is several days into it, […]

Tuesday January 11th, 2011 in Business Continuity Management, Tools, Templates, Software, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Giving the Exercise Plan Out Too Soon

Disaster Exercise – Observing and Evaluating

Exercise activity is best observed and evaluated by individuals specifically assigned to the task of observation or evaluation. A good rule of thumb is to have enough evaluators to observe each and every key activity, inject, and response by the participants. Often, it is either cost prohibitive or simply not feasible to have more than […]

Thursday December 30th, 2010 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Disaster Exercise – Observing and Evaluating

Leading the Disaster Exercise Design Team

Exercise design team meetings are used to orient the design team members to goals and objectives, brainstorm a story narrative, and create injects into the scenario to validate the areas being assessed. Further, the design meetings are used to prepare all aspects of the exercise event including materials like participant guides, actor and simulator team […]

Thursday December 23rd, 2010 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Leading the Disaster Exercise Design Team

Exercise Injects

Table-top disaster exercises provide a safe, low-stress environment within which participants can validate policy and procedure, consider what-if scenarios, and evaluate and assess their capabilities to manage a major incident. Key to bringing practical realism to a disaster exercise are “injects”. An inject is new data or information. The inject is provided to the participants […]

Thursday December 23rd, 2010 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Exercise Injects

Keeping Momentum in an Exercise Design Team

Once an exercise design team has started its work, momentum is important. If good effort was made early on to include all the key players and commitment was confirmed, then the process should go smoothly. Invariably, everyday schedules or interrupts get in the way or perhaps some design team members become disenchanted or become too […]

Thursday December 23rd, 2010 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Keeping Momentum in an Exercise Design Team

Disaster Exercises: ‘Hard’ Incident or ‘Soft’ Event?

Whether or not an exercise is ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ often depends on the type of business or organization wishing to prepare and conduct the practice event. It could also depend on recent events in their industry or geography, and current news. Designing the narrative of a disaster exercise can be tricky. This is especially true […]

Tuesday December 14th, 2010 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Disaster Exercises: ‘Hard’ Incident or ‘Soft’ Event?

Key Elements of a Disaster Exercise Narrative

A well crafted disaster exercise narrative is a critical element of any disaster training or exercise process. The narrative sets the stage for the exercise scenario. It provides background information and helps participants approach the exercise as a real and plausible event. The narrative also sets the stage and puts the players at the beginning […]

Tuesday December 14th, 2010 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Key Elements of a Disaster Exercise Narrative

Why Are We Doing This Exercise?

It can be difficult to convince an organization to take the time and incur the cost of conducting and exercise, particularly a Functional or Full-Scale exercise. I’ve sometimes heard an answer to the basic question “Why are we doing this exercise” to be “because we’ve been told we have to”. While valid, hopefully there is […]

When to Simulate and Not During an Exercise

One of the questions that often arises is the value of creating a full ‘simulation team’ versus using the ‘real’ people and functions during the exercise. There are pros and cons to each. In general, an exercise designer must consider how realistic a particular event needs to be, whether there is sufficient personnel, budget and […]

Sunday December 12th, 2010 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on When to Simulate and Not During an Exercise

Obtaining Exercise Background Data

The background or preparatory data and information for continuity exercises may come from several sources. Of primary importance to the exercise designer should be a thorough understanding of the exercise objectives, scope, and participant functions. With these key elements defined, the designed can begin seeking out information necessary to begin crafting a suitable exercise plan. […]

Sunday December 12th, 2010 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Obtaining Exercise Background Data

Bench Strength for Disaster Exercise Teams

A disaster exercise team is arguably the most value ingredient to preparing an organization to manage and recover from a disaster. There are other important ingredients, for example resources, technology, tools, vendors, executive support, communications, etc. However, a team of dedicated individuals who work well together and who understand how to implement actions in support […]

Monday December 6th, 2010 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Bench Strength for Disaster Exercise Teams

“Carrots and Sticks Don’t” Always Motivate

Emergency response exercises are a very valuable learning tool and can produce great energy and enthusiasm, despite the degree of successful completion or task accomplishment. In a recent motivational talk by Dan Pink he shares the concept that businesses do not always follow established science findings related to how humans are motivated. Pink provides research […]

Monday December 6th, 2010 in Business Continuity Management, Continuity of Operations Plan - COOP, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on “Carrots and Sticks Don’t” Always Motivate

Business Continuity Webinar 25-AUG10

Join us for a webinar on August 25th, 2010 at 1:00 pm EDT To join the meeting: http://norwich.na5.acrobat.com/r44501939/ Call in Number: 1-866-844-6898 | Conference code: 50261753 Sponsored by the Norwich University Master of Science in Business Continuity Management Program (http://businesscontinuity.norwich.edu) and the International Consortium for Organizational Resilience (http://www.theicor.org). Continuity of Operations Planning Events such as […]

Sunday August 8th, 2010 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Business Continuity Webinar 25-AUG10

Succession Planning Plays a Role in Business Continuity

When we think of the topic of risk management we may not immediately think of succession planning. I believe the two topics do go together. Unfortunately, in my experience, risk and managing a crisis are rarely part of a leadership curriculum. Succession planning is a strategy to prepare today’s employees and managers to be tomorrow’s […]

Sunday June 27th, 2010 in Business Continuity Management, Organizational Resilience, Risk Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Succession Planning Plays a Role in Business Continuity

Training a Resilient Nation

“So building a resilient nation doesn’t come from a top-down, government-only, command-and-control approach; it comes from a bottom-up approach; it comes from Americans connecting, collaborating; it comes from asking questions and finding new solutions. And it comes from all of us as a shared responsibility.” Secretary Janet Napolitano, 29 Sept 2009 [1] Community & Regional […]

Wednesday May 12th, 2010 in Organizational Resilience, Risk Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Training a Resilient Nation

CEO Needs Crisis Communications Planning

The CEO or president is quite often the spokesperson for a company or organization, even in times of crisis. That is confirmed in a recent study by Forrester Research and the Disaster Recovery Journal regarding crisis communications where senior executives being very involved or leading the effort accounted for more than half. [1] Are these […]

Saturday February 6th, 2010 in Emergency Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on CEO Needs Crisis Communications Planning

Health and Welfare of the People During Disasters

Introduction A sometimes overlooked aspect of building a successful business continuity program is the impact of disaster on people’s thoughts and emotions. Whether an actual disaster, major disruption, or emergency occurs, or whether we are simply making plans for how to recover from a crisis, the welfare of the people should be a prime concern. […]

Saturday November 14th, 2009 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Health and Welfare of the People During Disasters

Testing the IT Function for Resilience

Information Technology experts are worth their weight in gold. This is especially true when we rely on a  Systems Administrator to keep our network running smoothly, our data center operational, and our information protected. I believe we should go out of our way to include the sys-admin, as they are commonly called, in our business […]

Monday November 9th, 2009 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Testing the IT Function for Resilience

A Plan is Not a Plan Until It’s Tested

A business continuity plan, like many plans, is not complete until the testing has been accomplished. By this stage of the business continuity program, the ‘welcome’ of the BC professional may be worn out. There will certainly be obstacles to planning for and implementing testing. Nevertheless, testing is an important part of the timeline and […]

Monday November 9th, 2009 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on A Plan is Not a Plan Until It’s Tested

Eustress vs Distress During Disasters

Disasters, major disruptions, and even training exercises can bring about chaos to a group and to individuals. Individuals will each react in different ways to these very challenging and stressful events. The business continuity manager is wise to consider both the eustress [1] and distress which results when people are exposed to crisis whether they […]

Monday November 9th, 2009 in Business Continuity Management, Training and Exercises | Comments Off on Eustress vs Distress During Disasters
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