On August 23rd I attended the Sungard Super Regional Users Group in Kansas City. The drive is a little over 3 hours so it makes for a pretty long day but I find the trip worth the effort. Sungard’s investment in their user community is much appreciated.
In addition to telling us about their long-term strategic vision for their software, the Sungard people talked about their upcoming Test Management Module scheduled to be released in 2012. The new tool will assist planners with pre-test activities, defining scope and objectives, and tracking participants. Tests are tightly integrated with the plans in LDRPS – they reside in the same folders and the application includes a button to view the associated plan.
The meeting also included a presentation from one of the Kansas City area users on dictionary audits. It is always beneficial to see what other users are doing. In some cases you learn something new, in other cases you validate what you’ve been doing with your system. A users’ group forum also invites users to assist each other. In this case, a user who attended the meeting offered to send some reports to the presenters to aid in their dictionary audit efforts.
In the early part of August I attended the Iowa Contingency Planners (ICP) annual conference. The theme this year was: Back to the Basics Plan Roughly – Execute Superbly. Lloyd Smith was the keynote speaker for the conference. Lloyd is an MBCP and president of Business & Government Continuity Services in Oklahoma City. In his presentation, Lloyd covered a great deal of basic preparedness material.
It’s always good to reiterate best practices and other considerations for continuity planning and emergency preparedness. For me, it is not uncommon to hear something for the second, third, or fourth time and make a connection that I’ve never made before. For instance, as Lloyd discussed the need for multiple assembly points in case a building needs to be evacuated (you don’t want personnel assembling downwind of a fire) he stressed the importance of proper assembly so that you can verify everyone is out of the building. Nothing new there, we need to make sure everyone is out of the building. If someone is missing they could be in trouble. But we also need to consider the firefighters. We need to account for personnel properly so that we don’t put firefighters at risk unnecessarily. That’s a slightly different angle to stress to employees. Proper assembly isn’t just about their own safety, they have a responsibility to first responders. That added emphasis could get a few more employees to take building evacuation a little more seriously.
Another thought I had as I listened to Lloyd’s presentation: It is often stressed that we need to have emergency plans for our families. People will not come to work until their families are taken care of, so it is in the interest of the employer to make sure employees have plans for their families. It might be a good idea to include in a company awareness program, a seminar where employees actually put together family emergency kits. Of course there are budget constraints but possibly an inexpensive backpack, an address book, maps, or other inexpensive items might be distributed along with guidance material for additional emergency items.
The conference also included a panel discussion on insurance. I was pleasantly surprised by this discussion as there were a number of interesting and valuable points made. At the onset the point was made that insurance is a source of distraction and delay in recovering business after an event. Time is spent getting approvals, justifying expenditures, etc. instead of recovering your business. Your planning should take this into account. One valuable tidbit that I’m sure I’ve heard before; setup a separate bank account for your recovery expenditures. This will save work later when you need to identify what was spent on recovery for your insurance claim.
There were several other shorter presentations at the conference. I ended up taking quite a few notes which tells me the ICP was well worth my time. Thanks to the people at the Iowa Contingency Planners for putting together another good conference.
Well, it took too long to get this post up but here it is anyway. I attended the Strohl Super Regional Users’ Group in Kansas City on August 18. Brian Turley, the former CEO of Strohl Systems spoke to the group. Mr. Turley’s new title is Senior Vice President of the Software Solutions Group (I believe I have that correct) for Sungard Recovery Services. Mr. Turley assured the group that all would continue as before regarding LDRPS support. The conferences, training, and certification would continue to be offered. A few things will change; the training center will move to Sungard’s facility about 1.5 miles away from the Strohl location and the hosted services will move to Sungard Managed Services. Both moves make sense. Moving the training will allow the Strohl facility to increase space for the product development group which will be the focus of Tracy Forbes’ group. Moving the hosted LDRPS system to Sungard’s Managed Services actually strengthens the hosted solution offering. Apparently Sungard’s facility meets the SAS Type II auditing standard where Strohl’s hosted solution didn’t. I don’t pretend to know anything about SAS Type II (or Type I for that matter) but the discussion came up at the Super RUG and I thought I’d pass it along.
LDRPS sub-release 10.4 is scheduled to come out in Q4 of 2008. In addition to some new reports, the new sub-release is certified for Windows Vista and includes a Navigator for BS 25999. You can also expect improved performance importing data in the new sub-release.