Are You Prepared? CEOs: Ask the “essential six” questions about emergency preparedness

April 8, 2002
Designing a Safe and Reliable Electrical System - Part 6
While chief executives across the country are increasingly eyeing remote sites to house operations in case prime facilities are damaged or destroyed, they may not be asking all the right questions to ensure that sensitive data and customer connections are protected.According to Syska Hennessy Group’s OnlinEnvironments (, preparedness lies not just in securing a remote site, but in knowing precisely the people, infrastructure, and systems necessary to restore critical functions. “It may seem like a monumental task for a chief executive to imagine the unthinkable, but there are six essential questions to ask that will identify the key processes and plans that underlie true preparedness,” says Jim McEnteggart, associate partner. The “CEO Essential 6”:1 Have you rated each facility within your organization by how critical it is to supporting business operations?2 Within each facility or data center, have you identified the components that are most essential to operations? 3 What is the threshold for the hours or days that these different operations can be down before essential services must be moved to a new site? Typically, customer call centers need to be back online immediately. In contrast, an internal function such as accounting may be offline longer without a significant impact on operations.4 Are documented plans and processes in place to transition from the damaged facility to the new site? If personnel cannot easily transfer to the remote location, skilled labor should be available nearby to get business back on track.5 Have time limits been set for recreating essential support services? A trader may have phone lines, but he can’t operate without access to market data or customer accounts, for example.6 Are regular drills performed to keep the staff prepared for any disaster? The current disaster plan should be tested to see how it would have held up under conditions similar to the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.Syska Hennessy Group, a leader in consulting, engineering, technology, and construction, has 600 people in 10 offices nationwide and serves an international roster of clients.

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