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April 30, 2009

CIOs cautioned over pandemic preparedness

Analysts urge business continuity tests by week end

By CBR Staff Writer

With the World Health Organisation raising its threat alert to Level 5 and suggesting the high likelihood of a flu pandemic, IT executives are being cautioned to review their business continuity management and disaster recovery pandemic response plans.

Gartner has said that emergence of swine flu is a reason to plan, not panic. In a research note it has advised IT executives to start testing their business continuity plans.

“Enterprises in all regions and across all industries should complete their review of their BCM/DR pandemic response plans and fill in any missing elements by the end of this week,” said Roberta Witty of the analyst house.

It said a true pandemic could cause absenteeism rates of 40% and more for enterprises and their business partners and suppliers, resulting in severe operational disruptions. 

Gartner said, “Identify existing and projected critical skills shortages, and determine which business operations are sustainable, and at what level, and the likely downtime for normal business operations during periods with absenteeism rates of 40% or higher.”

CIOs should also prepare for travel restrictions to be significant in the event of an epidemic and near-universal in the event of a pandemic.

Remote access to enterprise systems, groupware and collaborative systems, roles-based security controls, webcam and telephone systems will be tested during such a scenario, and should be checked as being fit-for-purpose now rather than later.

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