A plan to fail?

Emergency Planning is an increasingly important and sophisticated subject area in our world. As global media awareness and our scientific understanding of disasters improves how we learn to cope with increasingly effective levels of response. Whether they are man-made or natural, the response has often been post factum but now increasingly with an eye on how to cope better in the future. We don’t often hear about disasters headed off at the pass – but they are with increasing frequency as our world gets smarter. IT often plays a critical role in what IBM calls a ‘smarter planet’, not only in disseminating information (52% of us have apparently used the web to get emergency help). Collecting data about disasters; understanding and interpreting the statistics; and building computational models to predict disasters better help us prevent them occurring in the future. Machines will only go so far though…they may lead us to water but will we drink? If you’re anything like me you are all good intent but not quite as good on the follow through, and human judgement about what to when a warning is presented, has a pretty dodgy track record.

The Disaster Planning Role and the Dutch Master

Disaster planning is a job I don’t much envy. I am sure my plan to raise a beautiful work of Art in a gallery by 10 feet if the nearby river burst its banks would backfire. I’ve no doubt that I’d discover the correct height should have been 10.5 feet and the Dutch master I was charged with protecting now had soggy feet. If my Dutch master was a water-logged write off the human reaction would no doubt be one of criticism or ridicule. How could that disaster planning guy have been so short-sighted? The National Geographic society was reporting record levels of rainfall so he should have known that something like this would happen.

Where there’s smoke there’s fire

That’s the sad fact. It’s increasingly easy to point fingers and assign blame and guilt. The new 3 horsemen of the apocalypse ‘Should-Have, Would-have and Could-have’ appear so readily when disaster strikes. I am personally starting to think that the MIA 4th horseman is the social media savvy general public who are waiting to judge the individual to blame. Is it fair? Is it heck. But when was anything ever fair? These days the unfairness is unfairly instant and usually digital.

If disaster strikes your websites or applications – what then?

In all honesty Micro Focus Borland Software hasn’t behaved a lot better in that regard. Whenever there’s a web outage we are there, ready to dance around in a told-you-so like way. I sincerely hope that you’ve enjoyed the wry humour of Frank Borland and the photoshop genius of our Marketing team along the way.

Plan to fail

Benjamin Franklin famously said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” and this appears to hold the keys to successful ‘disaster planning’. Making a disaster recovery plan; testing the plan by running some scenarios; getting the correct teams on board; and making the roles and responsibilities clear, are all elements contributing to a more scientific and industrialised process.

That’s where partnering with a world-class brand like Micro Focus Borland can help. Not in a quick-fix-after-the-horse-bolted type of way. Setting up this discipline needs to find its way into your Company’s AppDev culture. I like to think of Micro Focus as a big enough company that’s small enough to really care. We’ll help you figure out whether your Developers are testing units along the way, or handing it all over to the QA team to inspect, or both. We can help advise which load and performance tests help most in a situation and our thriving community is always on hand to offer valuable advice too.

So when your team is tasked with launching the next application, the new website to sell the line that will make or break your Sales teams’ quarter, or the new e-commerce portal wouldn’t it be reassuring to know that all previous disaster precedents had been covered in the testing process? That the business requirements had been met? And that should your launch go viral you’ll be counting dollars instead of hostile Tweets and headlines?

Think along the lines of the BCP professional and use best in class Testing tools to get confidence in your launches. Recognise your plan is unlikely to be perfect and get the correct team ready for action. Build a culture of ‘preparing for the worst’ and instead of needing to find a scapegoat to throw under the proverbial bus you may just find yourself leaving the office early to celebrate launch success. Wouldn’t that be a worthwhile investment?


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