The importance of Business Continuity, even in Paradise by Stephen Brown

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Stephen Brown

Stephen Brown

By Stephen Brown (FM-adviso, Ltd.) & FMCC Membership Coordinator  21 July 2015.

Those who know me personally are aware I have recently relocated back to my adopted home in the Caribbean after an extended assignment in the Middle East . I am not a native islander… just a transplant who found a place that feels like ‘home’.

Stephen Brown: “Life in paradise…”

The comments I receive from persons who find out where I live follow a typical pattern of thought:

“You’re so lucky…”,                

“It must be nice…”,   

“How do you get work done when the beautiful beach is so close and tempting…”    

They are generally correct. I am fortunate to have found a place that is so comfortable… where I can SCUBA year-round and never worry about temperatures below 67⁰F /19⁰C and rarely am exposed to anything over 96⁰F/35⁰C. But, creating income and meeting client needs is a requirement, so I chase up the contacts, market the services, freshen presentations and other resources, and virtually always toil more hours than my ‘full-time’ friends.

carribean living

Life, Interrupted…

Last Friday, the local electric utility experienced a huge service fault. All power was interrupted for the entire island. 20,000 customer sites went dark for an outage that lasted from seven to thirteen hours (depending on location).

The power outage gave a harsh jolt to the ‘instantly convenient’ life we lead. No radio, no television. The internet was disrupted and air conditioners and the constant hum of ceiling fans were quieted. Coffee urns and tea kettles stayed cold. Even the mobile services were generally reduced to voice only and there were periodic switching overloads. The back-up generators could not carry the full burden that has become the norm.

Many that I spoke with later laughed about going into a room and trying to turn on lights only to be reminded by the continued darkness after switching. (How does short-term memory fail that badly?)

This was the second island-wide outage in the past four months. In fairness, the utility has a very good record of 99.5% ‘up time’ (not including outages caused when iguanas climb on the wires and cause lizard-fatal faults). But for this service, people on island pay a rate that is roughly 5-6 times per kWh as compared to the average rate in India, 3-4 times rates for US or Saudi Arabian residences, 2+ times the UK average, and some 15-17% higher than Germany. ‘Paradise’ has a price.

Planning required…

Living on a tropical island gives significant exposure to tropical storms and hurricanes for approximately six months of the year. {NOTE: Around the globe, the terms ‘cyclone’, ‘typhoon’, and ‘hurricane’ are almost synonymous, but have varied measures and other descriptions. In the end, all are very dangerous storms.}

For 2015, the Caribbean and Western Atlantic are forecast to see 6-11 named storms and 3-6 hurricanes. For the Eastern/Central Pacific Basin, the forecast is 15-22 named storms and 7-12 of these will intensify to hurricane strength. Certainly, you have seen news reports on the damages resulting from 110mph (177kph) to 200mph (322kph) winds. Persons in these locales must pay heed to the threats.

During May each year, the local Government sponsors campaigns to remind residents and businesses to plan ahead. The preparations can include checking the portable generators, and to stock up on non-perishable foods, torches (flashlights), and batteries. Some businesses organize contracts for airlift to relocate critical employees and business records. However, a surprising percentage of the populace delays action on preparations since most of the more powerful storms are realized in August and September. These are the folks who were most unprepared during the recent power outage.

When these tropical storms occur, the devastation can be truly remarkable. Quoting US FEMA Deputy Administrator Joseph Nimmich, “It only takes one hurricane or tropical storm making landfall in your community to significantly disrupt your life.” Having witnessed storms’ aftermath, I will tell you Mr. Nimmich has made a severe understatement!

Threats to business facilities…

An important – and sometimes overlooked – component of the Facility Management industry is disaster planning and emergency response that can lead to Business Continuity Planning. If a storm – or other catastrophic event like a fire – interrupts the business operations, insurance might restore the structures, but when or if the business is closed for any real duration, clients/customers may go elsewhere. There are a surprising number of businesses, large and small, that simply cannot recover from these disasters. As the consultants and advisors, we have a responsibility to remind organizations of the need to review these threats and to plan accordingly.

Our colleagues in this specialized field – represented by Disaster Recovery Institute, International (DRII) and Business Continuity Institute (BCI), as well as pertinent governmental organizations, all give good counsel on the need to assess conditions and threats and to make preparations to overcome the impacts. It is noteworthy to point out that within FMCC there are organizations who can provide this DR/ERP/BCP support. They have ability to customize involvements for analyses and recommendations specific to the Client sites.

You are encouraged to take time to review the FMCC membership roster and the Consultant’s Directory. See what other specialties are available.

You never know when you might need to call on a specialist resource for assistance.

Bloggers Bio:

Stephen Brown

Stephen Brown, CFM, FMP, SFP, CPE, CBCP, CESCO, REM CEO, FM-adviso, Ltd.

After a successful career in stateside facilities management, Stephen Brown assumed a position with an international portfolio. Since that time, Brown has held senior posts in the Caribbean, UK/Europe, and the Middle East. After more than 20 years managing the built environment for both private and public sector organizations, Brown founded FM-adviso to support organizations with specialist and credentials training in addition to consulting on operational efficiencies, outsourcing, policies and procedures, contract management, environmental matters, and emergency response / business continuity.

Brown earned an MBA after undergraduate work that combined studies in Architectural Technology and Business Management. Qualified as a trainer for IFMA and DRII credentials programs, he has been published and has been an instructor for other environmental, emergency response and disaster preparedness training programs.

For more than eight years, exceptional studies have been applied to refining two key facility assessments – IAQ (indoor air quality) and Business Continuity Management.

Active in IFMA program development activities, Brown has earned IFMA Certified Facility Manager®, Facility Management Professional®, and Sustainable Facilities Professional® credentials. He also holds Certified Plant Engineer, Certified Business Continuity Professional, Registered Environmental Manager, and Certified Environmental and Safety Compliance Officer credentials.

With more than 25 years managing and advising on the built environment for corporate, public, and academic settings in the US, Europe, Caribbean and Middle East, he has a diverse background of successes to draw from.

Recognized as a Subject Matter Expert in the field of Facilities Management, he has contributed broadly to professional credentials and certification programs.

In parallel, Brown has devoted efforts toward Disaster Planning, Emergency Response, and Business Continuity activities as well as keen attention to environmental matters, energy conservation, and to maximize efficiency in all aspects of the delivery of Facility Management services.

Credentials and Certifications held include:
- Certified Facility Manager
- Facilities Management Professional
- Sustainable Facilities Professional
from International Facilities Management Association

- Certified Plant Engineer
from Association for Facilities Engineering

- Certified Business Continuity Professional
from Disaster Recovery Institute

- Registered Environmental Manager
- Certified Environmental & Safety Compliance Officer
from National Registry of Environmental Professionals

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