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Sunday, 16 February 2014

An External View is Productive

Most companies holding a certifications to ISO9001, 1SO14001 or ISO27001  have done so for many years and although the standards call for 'Continual Improvement' this is often product or service based and often reflects normal organic growth. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this approach, Directors are not always taking advantage of the latest techniques and processes.

Many companies certified over five or six years may have a fairly large management systems manual and processes to match; some of these will have been expanded as a result of auditors' comments and some by customers' complaints or observations, but not all will add any value to the company's operation.

It is often difficult for internal auditors to "see the wood for the trees";  What is a good idea is to have someone have a look with fresh eyes at what you are doing; get a real heads-up on the latest techniques and ways to reduce the administrative burden of Systems Management.

Professional consultants have verifiable qualifications and accreditations plus Professional Indemnity Insurance and considerable and varied experience.  It is worth asking for evidence of these qualifications. Also any consultant worth his/her salt will be able to furnish you with a list of satisfied clients with whom you can obtain references.

A good consultant is worth his/or her weight in gold; not only can a gap audit or review actually save money it can result in greater efficiency. Remember an experienced consultant will have been involved with a number of organisations and will be able to use that experience to help you. Cherry picking the best practices and techniques while retaining strict confidentiality will add real value to your business.

Although external consultants can look expensive initially, the overall outlay is extremely cost effective when combined with other advantages, such as no holidays to pay for, no sickness or other absence to factor in;   most consultants will offer a guarantee of work performed.

And the best bit is you only pay for actual work performed.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Water, Water Everywhere

The recent torrential rain has caused major problems for households but even more so for businesses. Rivers have burst their banks and sea defences have been breached.  Businesses that have computer systems damaged by flood water may have additional problems for data recovery, particularly when battery back-up systems and data media have been put out of action by water.

Most businesses will have some form of business continuity plan in place and the conditions will have tested these extensively.  Disaster recovery plans for IT will also have been put into action.

Some of the precautions I would have expected to be used were not always present:

  • Computer equipment should not be kept on the floor in flood prone areas;
  • Frequent back ups of  data should be made;
  • Back up media should be kept off site
  • Server images should be taken to allow swift recovery from failures;
  • Where possible, electrical sockets should be raised from floor level to mid wall level;
  • Ground floor businesses should consider air brick covers to prevent water entering;  
  • Sand bags or water sealing devices to stop water entry;
  • Ensure company vehicles are parked on higher ground when flood warnings are issued;
  • Instruct company car drivers that flooded roads are not to be driven into, unless the water level can be seen.  30 inches of water can cause severe damage to vehicles;
  • Fast moving water of 30 inches can sweep a vehicle away;
  • Check that insurance policies cover flood damage;
  • Put a business continuity/disaster recovery Standard into place (ISO 22301 or the information security Standard ISO 27001, which includes a clause for Business Continuity

It is always easy to be wise after the event, but it pays to be proactive; even if this is for next time.

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