In 2004, three years after “9/11”, local, state and federal US representatives met as part of a planning exercise to assess emergency disaster management abilities should a major hurricane strike the coastal areas of Louisiana. The exercise, named “Hurricane Pam”, considered the problems and response abilities should a Category 5 Hurricane strike. The representatives found multiple shortcomings. Communication infrastructure was poor. Transportation capacity compared to population needs was markedly limited. Health and rescue services were inadequate to handle anticipated human services. At the conclusion of the exercise, plans were devised and members accepted responsibilities in an effort to correct these deficiencies. However, a year later, when Hurricane Katrina struck, unfortunately not enough had been accomplished. Thousands of lives were lost or affected as a result of a lack of implementation. When the imagined crisis became a reality, preventative measures had been neglected, and the response to the catastrophe was far from acceptable.
While lives are rarely at stake for most organizations, a lack of preparedness and prevention is all too common. Maintenance of IT systems is ignored or neglected. Adoption of better technologies and tools does not happen due to financial costs or a lack of understanding. As a result, IT systems suffer more-frequent and more-significant problems over time, demanding immediate attention from IT personnel. In the process, business continuity is disrupted, revenues and customers are lost, and efforts are used inefficiently in attending to disaster management. Choosing to be proactive and adopt preventative measures is a simple solution that effectively minimizes these unwanted developments.
Information technology systems are a necessary component of organizations and businesses today. You need a smart approach to installing an effective IT infrastructure with proper technologies and tools as well as the importance of having the right IT professionals. Also, a commitment to ongoing monitoring of IT systems is mandatory if success is the goal in a competitive environment. Periodic assessments, oversight of project completions, alignment of goals between IT and the organization, and the development of an internal knowledge base are examples of this commitment. In this way, resource investments can be used wisely and most effectively.
Fireproofing your information technology system is no different than reducing risk in other areas of an organization. Organizations are always more productive and efficient when unnecessary stress is absent. For organizations that are in a cycle of putting out fire after fire, not only is productivity affected by interruptions in business continuity, but it is also hindered because of the stressful pressure of the situation. By being proactive within your organization, you can reduce the times of stress experienced and maximize the fluency of business operations. This does not require you to understand every single aspect of your IT system; it requires only open dialogue, good communications, and a commitment to establishing smart IT processes and procedures. With these attitudes in place, organizational success becomes more likely. After all, IT should be an asset, not a liability, for your organization. Stop running from fire to fire, and make the choice to invest in good IT practices.
For more information, see my book www.ITSurvivalGuideBook.com