Business Continuity Tips against the Swine Flu

2 May 2009
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While the world is recovering slowly from the global financial recession, we are hit with the impending threat of the H1N1 flu virus (also known as Swine Flu). Although the source is known to be from the remote Mexico, there are reports on a few cases of infection in Asia.

I believe that we are in a much better position now as compared to the SARS period. This is because the alert was raised early and we have accumulated a lot of practical experience from the SARS episode. Nevertheless, we should look at how other organizations are tackling this challenge and relook on the current business continuity measures.

Many companies are playing it safe by restricting travel to the infected countries and also exploring ways to enable employees to work from home should they are suspected of infection. Some of them have set up alternative office sites to continue their operations in case their current office building is placed under quarantine.

I see our solutions (Confluence & JIRA) would be useful in extending these business continuity strategies. I will list down 3 scenarios to explain how they can help.

Scenario 1: An employee has fallen sick and is unable to do work. Another colleague is assigned to take over his duties but he does not know what are his outstanding tasks and the latest development on the tasks.

With JIRA, the one taking over can check out what are the assigned tasks of the patient and take over the tasks. He will be able to find out on the development via the work logs, notes and discussions for each task.
Without JIRA, the one taking over will have to check with the superiors and team members on the assigned tasks. He may have to request for access to his email account to read through all the emails. Some clients’ requests might be missed out as there are no records of the tasks.

Scenario 2: The employee is assigned to take over a project but all the files are stored in the laptop of the patient who is in the hospital.

With Confluence, all the information is stored in the centralized servers organized by projects and functions. The administrators need only to grant the appropriate permissions to the ones who are taking over. 
Without Confluence, the people can try his luck to get access to his computer and laptop. He may also need to get access to his passwords.  As a result, some personal/confidential emails and files will be accessible to their colleagues.

Scenario 3: There is a case of infection in the current office building. The entire building is under quarantine.  Nobody is allowed to enter the building to do work until disinfection cleaning is done.

With Confluence and JIRA, the staff will be able to do their work from their home with a secured connection (VPN or SSL). Communications can still take place with mobile phones, emails and instant messaging temporarily. When the quarantine is over, they can resume work back at their office.
Without Confluence and JIRA, the files in the corporate file server are inaccessible from the internet without a VPN connection. There might be a need to rent another office and set up another data centre. This would imply a few days of downtime and a huge expense.

Lastly, I wish everyone good health and hope that this will get over soon.  Do check out the tips given by the Singapore government.

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