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Disaster Business Continuity Planning

When the banking system came to a standstill on account of the rains of Mumbai in 2005, the impact was felt in many branches of the banks as the nodal point of data storage is in Mumbai. But many of them were able to continue their operations on account of the continuity planning measures taken by them which were the result of the Reserve Bank of India’s regulations. Business disaster recovery and continuity planning has gained great importance in the current highly unpredictable environment.

Business continuity plan aims at ensuring the business operations can be continued with minimal interruptions during the time of natural or man-made disasters. With the advancement in the information technology, the chances for easy provision for continuity planning have risen. The loss can be on any or all of the core areas of business namely the database, infrastructure and the people. The degree of severity and the occurrence varies in each case. The management must be capable of identifying the various risks that can affect the business and provide for the continuity planning.

With unpredictable threats from terrorists organisations and natural disasters on account of the global warming on the rise, almost every major industrial leaders in India have provided for continuity planning to ensure the smooth flow of its operations from another location. For instance, Wipro’s disaster recovery plan within itself covers all aspects of its core activities. The company has provided for keeping a back-up of its database in various offices in India as well as abroad. For instance, the back-up of work done in Koramangala might be stored in the Sarjapur branch of Wipro and vice versa. At the same time to ensure continuity of operations the company has provided for a back-up in another city in India as well as in the other offices abroad. The company claims at its ability to continue its operations from the branches in USA, Canada and Europe if disaster strikes in India as a whole. To meet the people requirements during crisis, the company has appointed a location head and the second in command for every location who are capable of taking decisions during the times of crisis. The company also has an Emergency Response Team consisting of internal employees who are capable of responding in emergencies.

Wipro was awarded for its exemplary service in the outsourcing community by the Outsourcing Institute for its services granted to a major airline in United States whose customer support infrastructure was affected by Hurricane Katrina. Wipro which was already providing customer service support to this airline from offshore locations was able to takeover the operations during crisis till the airline company had rebuilt its infrastructure to its old form.

Many companies are required to comply with the ISO 17799 standards that guarantee business continuance in the Service Level Agreements. Identifying the various risks that can attack the company and the level of its impact must be carefully anticipated and provisions for meeting the same must be provided for. It is rightly stated by Sanjay Dhawan of KPMG that “a business continuity plan should provide an enterprise-wide risk-based approach, covering People, Processes, Technology and Extended Enterprise to ensure continuing availability of business support systems and minimize disruption risks".

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