Business Continuity, disaster readiness & determination in the worst of times

September 29, 2008 at 7:31 am 8 comments

Photos can never truly reflect the horror of what happened on September 20 in Islamabad. I visited the Evacuee Trust Complex (which is adjacent to the Marriott Hotel) on Wednesday with Faisal Chohan of Brightspyre and as we negotiated our way carefully through the rubble and destruction, images of past visits flashed through my mind. This place had always been alive with energy and activity and well done up offices. I had been here so many times before. It broke my heart to see it in shambles.

However, I was not allowed to be depressed for too long. As I entered one of the offices, i saw people in hard hats, protective eye gear and gloves going through the rubble, separating material and documents and putting them away in clearly marked boxes. They were all smiling and looking ahead with determination and confidence rather than letting depression engulf them. An amazing lot.

Most of the companies within the Evacuee Trust Complex had entered the building on Sunday (as soon as they were allowed to) and removed their computers, servers and all essential equipment. Many of them already had Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity Plans in place, and were up and running by Sunday night.

The goodness in people comes to the fore at times like these. Dr. Arshad Ali of NUST is one such example. It took him no time at all to offer space to affected companies at the NUST/SEECS campus so that they could continue their operations.

I visited the SEECS campus and met with a couple of the companies. Dr. Arshad Ali also showed me an additional 7,000+ sq ft of space within the existing campus which he said could be made available – and all this free of any rent. We also went to the new NUST H-12 campus where he identified more space that could be converted very quickly into functionable office space for companies that may need it for a couple of months. I salute you Dr. Arshad Ali for your community spirit, for your compassion and for your readiness to assist. May God bless you.

IT Companies in other locations who had additional space available also made it available to the affected companies. The PSEB started identifying buildings within Islamabad that could be converted into STPs.

I met several company representatives and was proud of their resilience, their determination and their commitment to making sure that customers were not affected by what had happened. One CEO I spoke to told me that his US customer had remarked that on the 9th day after the hurricance in the US, his company was still not operational. He wondered how Islamabad companies had lost no time at all in coming online and ensuring that mission critical work was not affected. Another CEO said that because services had not been affected, his customers didn’t even know that his office was totally destroyed. I have asked these companies to share their Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plans with others so that God forbid we go through any other natural or man-made disasters, we are ready and able to deal with  them.

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Isn’t it an irony? And then there are others …

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ڈفر  |  September 29, 2008 at 11:31 am

    any ideas how long will it take for ETC rehabilitation? coz what i have news is that companies are trying to relocate their offices at other places in islamabad and rent is increased for the houses and buildings. will companies be allowed to come back to ETC or this disaster will help ETC administration in achieving their goals which they wanted 2 or more months back?

    Reply
  • 2. Vic  |  September 29, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    @ ڈفر : Perhaps companies relocating within ETC (ie, NOT giving up their current locations, but returning) should demand a ‘risk discount’, since the building is apparently is a risky location. Jawwad from Alchemy may be in a position to help accurately assess that risk, since solutions to manage risk is what Alchemy creates.

    Of course, there may be others, I am not trying to advertise their services (or if I am, it isn’t [hand firmly held to chest] because of the terrific food that mysteriously appears every time he hoves into sight).

    Reply
  • […] This cup of tea was served by: In the Line of Wire […]

    Reply
  • 4. Nawaz  |  September 29, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    This is incredible. There is a lot of good to go around still further.

    Reply
  • 5. Sharjeel Ahmed Qureshi  |  September 30, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    The step taken by Dr. Arshad Ali is commendable.

    Jazakallah.

    Reply
  • 6. Absar Ul Haq  |  October 4, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Its great to know that companies effected by blast are back to work.

    Two thumbs up for Dr. Arshad Ali.

    Jahanara, may be you can add this to ‘good things about Pakistan’ list🙂

    Reply
  • 7. Zaheer Abbas khan  |  October 12, 2008 at 3:22 am

    Steps taken by Dr. Arshad Ali are encouraging for others to add their part in handling such disasters.

    Reply
  • 8. wordofmansoor  |  October 17, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Funny thing is, whenever you go and talk to someone about BCM they dont want to do anything?!

    we introduced bcm planning over 3 years ago and approached many people in the industry. everyone says ‘its a good thing, but we can’t (wont) do it now because we can’t get hurt!’

    how can you get people past this??!

    Reply

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