10 tips for swine flu planning

As the swine flu outbreak spreads, IT managers are dusting off their pandemic plans and preparing for the possibility of high levels of employee absenteeism and extended telework scenarios.


The swine flu threat comes at a time when IT shops are already stretched thin as a result of layoffs and other cutbacks because of the ongoing recession. We talked to several experts in the business continuity and IT operations, and here's the advice they are offering CIOs:

1. Stay calm. Model the behaviour you want to see from your employees. This includes continuing to be productive but also shoring up your supplies of hand sanitizer and bottled water.

"What CIOs and other managers of a company have to do is say this is business as usual, but practice better personal hygiene," says Richard De Lotto, principal analyst in Gartner's Banking and Investment Industries Advisory Services Group. "Other people will pick up on the examples set by executives."

2. Involve the entire executive team in business-continuity planning. Planning for a pandemic is not an IT issue; it's a business issue. "IT doesn't need to be driving this because it's more than just data backup," says David Potterton, vice president of global research at IDC Financial Insights.

"It needs to be driven by senior business leaders...You have to understand what are your core systems and that's a business decision, not an IT decision."

3. Update and test your calling tree. Many companies have had layoffs in the last six months, and they may not have up-to-date lists of employees and multiple methods for reaching them, including current home and mobile phone numbers. Update your list and conduct a test of your emergency calling system to make sure it works. "You need a reliable channel of communications known to everybody," De Lotto says.

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