A Really Cool Business Continuity Webinar: Maintaining Business Continuity at The Busiest Foreign Seaport in the U.S.

17 09 2014
Capt. Woodring

Capt. Woodring

A few weeks ago I wrote about a great boat tour of a segment of the Port of Houston that I went on along with the Southeast Texas Chapter of the Association of Contingency Planners.  The tour was educational but the presentation afterwards from Capt. Marcus Woodring, the Port’s HSSE director, was even better.  Several of you asked if it would be possible for us to secure Capt. Woodring for a webinar.  It was and we did.

The free, 45-minute webinar – as interesting as it will be educational – will be at 10:30 Central on September 24th.  You can register here right now.

During the webinar you’ll see how the Port of Houston prepares for and overcomes a wildly diverse range of challenges to its 24/7 continuity of operations including potential issues arising from fire, explosions, medical assistance and transport, aviation, ecological concerns, legalities, international personnel, collisions both on and offshore, spills, leaks, the possibility of terrorism, inclement or destructive weather . . . even contingencies for multiple but different types of events occurring simultaneously.

The Port of Houston is a 25-mile-long complex of public and private facilities located just a few hours by ship from the Gulf of Mexico. The port is ranked:

  • 1st in the United States in foreign waterborne tonnage
  • 1st in U.S. imports
  • 1st in U.S. export tonnage
  • 2nd in the U.S. in total tonnage

register-buttonIt’s the nation’s leading breakbulk port (yeah, I had to look it up, too), handling 65% of all major U.S. project cargo. The Port is comprised of public terminals which are owned, managed and leased by the Port of Houston Authority and 150-plus private companies along the 52-mile long Houston Ship Channel.  (Get an idea of how big it is.  Get another fascinating look here which is the same link as the one for the photo below.)  Each year, more than 200 million tons of cargo move through the Port of Houston carried by more than 8,000 vessels and 200,000 barge calls. As one of the world’s busiest ports, the Port of Houston is a large and vibrant component of the regional economy and ship channel-related businesses contribute more than 1.2 million jobs throughout Texas. (Source: portofhouston.com)

Screen grab from the video Night Run of The Houston Ship Channel by Houston Pilot Lou Vest.  Click to play; 2:27.

Screen grab from the video Night Run of The Houston Ship Channel by Houston Pilot Lou Vest. Click to play; 2:27.

Capt. Woodring, a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and Managing Director of the Port’s HSSE branch, including the Port of Houston firefighters and HazMat Response Teams; the Port Police Dept. with 53 sworn officers and six Port Security Officers; the Safety Dept. with four specialists; all admin and budgeting functions; three Facility Security Officers; and an Emergency Manager supervising 8 Dispatchers.

This is a great webinar, one where you’ll learn a lot and enjoy your time.  Register here.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.





Hotels Mimicking Airlines With Extraneous New Fees – Business Continuity Professionals Take Note!

10 09 2014

Is the hotel industry taking it too far with new fees for everything from checking in early to a surcharge for that room safe whether you use it or not?  And if you’re traveling on the company dime, should you even care?  Even if you don’t, your company sure should and whomever they designate to keep up with these trends in order to address them in your contracts better realize that we’re talking about a LOT of money on the table.

10500It’s yet another benefit of creating your own standardized contract to present to hotels for any travel related to BC/DR, a concept familiar to anyone who’s seen one of my presentations, especially if you’re talking about a deployment of a group or groups of employees.  Otherwise, you can add these fees to the 60+ negotiable items that are already in a standard hotel’s group booking contract and have to be rehashed separately with each hotel you select.  And if you’re smart and spread your risk by contracting with not just one but multiple hotels, that translates to a whole lot of extra work for you.  Oh, and you’ll have to do that immediately pre-deployment when you have a gazillion other things competing for your time and attention.  Yikes!

For example, let’s say you have 75 rooms contracted at a hotel that charges $10/night for high speed internet access, an amount that’s actually on the low end.  Assuming you didn’t negotiate comp wifi for your employees at the outset (which you should have), that’s another $750/day for what you can do at Starbucks for free.  Too insignificant an amount?  Say you’re there for 2 weeks.  That makes it $10,500, which is a whole lot more than zero.  Gets your attention, doesn’t it?  Now think about all the other charges you might not foresee and you can see how quickly this compounds.  Better yet, assuming a charge of $149 per room night, see the tabulation below of new extra fees that could add another $100K to a hotel bill that already exceeds $150,000 . . . excluding taxes.

Photo: Traders Hotel

Photo: Traders Hotel

And yes, this is already happening.  Continuity Housing Global Account Executive Stacey Sabiston notes, “We’ve started to notice that some previous ‘optional’ or ‘at your discretion’ fees have started to become mandatory at some properties – maid gratuities and bellman gratuities to name a few.  Some properties are now adding a ‘VAT’ (value added tax) to the room rate which covers some of the formerly free hotel amenities such as the fitness center, daily newspaper, pool towels, etc.  One of the island properties we deal with charges a ‘daily service fee’ of 10% to cover porterage, housekeeping and front of house gratuities in addition to a $20 per room coastal protection levy – that’s the first time I’ve seen that one!  Many of the groups we’re booking for also have outdoor dinner events and functions and for those I’ve seen additional labor or setup fees being tacked on such as $15.00 per person or a flat setup fee for outdoor events.”

no-mini-barAs for invoices, they’re already a nightmare what with people leaving their assigned hotel to go somewhere else willy nilly, hotel front desk agents not knowing (and crediting you properly for) the concessions in your contract, charges that should have posted to an individual being posted to your organization’s master account instead, leaving you to collect on the back end from your employee – and it won’t be just the one employee . . .  The list goes on.  And who’s going to audit all this stuff to make sure you’re not getting the proverbial short end of the stick?

So what can you do?  For starters you can put the onus on the hotel.  In your contract boilerplate (which someone in your organization has created with your best interests in mind and which has been vetted by the powers that be), include a section called “Miscellaneous Charges” and leave it blank for the hotels to complete.  They must name each category of miscellaneous charges that will be in effect during the dates of your stay.  And if it’s not in the contract, then it’s not on your bill.  Unfortunately, parking lot fees usually aren’t negotiable.

Another thing you can do is set up a direct billing account with each hotel you’re working with.  Even if you plan to pay with a credit card, I strongly advise you to take this extra step.  If you have direct billing, it means that the hotel will invoice you and you will be able to audit that invoice before paying.  Without that, the hotel will charge your credit card the amount that they believe is correct and any billing discrepancies you find become more of a hassle and more time consuming.  Not necessary!  The mantra of superior business continuity planning is “Prepare and drill.  Do it again.  No surprises.”  Addressing this issue from the get-go is the only way to prevent these charges from creeping up on us during an event.

Have you been hit with charges like these?  Leave a comment and tell us about it!

***

Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.





Celebrity Photo Hack: Is It Time To Quit The Cloud? (Spoiler Alert: This Article Contains No Celebrity Photos)

4 09 2014

Jennifer Lawrence is the best.  She’s an excellent actress, she’s hilarious and her whimsical modesty is delightful.  And it’s a shame that she’s at the forefront of the latest celebrity photo hack.  Nonetheless, I’ve had a phone with a camera since 2007 – and I got one of the first digital cameras back in the mid ‘90’s – and I’ll pay $10,000 cash to anyone who can find a nude selfie of me anywhere.  Because there aren’t any.

It’s a universal truth, however, that sometimes humans simply do dumb things.  Also true is that for most of us the cloud is a part of our everyday lives either personally, professionally or both and oftentimes whether we even know it or not.  The issue is getting lots of ink this week and when we translate it into “Business-Continuity-ese,” it means our data and other proprietary information may not be as secure as we think.  So what can you do to prevent sensitive material from falling into the wrong hands?  I spoke with Russell Holliman, an IT expert with 30 years of experience and Continuity Housing’s technology advisor, to find out.

First of all, the easiest lesson to learn is that just because you delete a photo from your phone doesn’t mean that it has disappeared forever.

Same goes for your hard drive if you’ve backed up to the cloud.

Next, says Holliman, “Be selective about what you use the cloud for.  Opt to actively back up onto your computer instead of just letting it run in the background.”  Yes, it’s less convenient, but only in the same way that it’s less convenient to heat water for tea in your microwave as opposed to just getting it from an on demand tap.  I mean, who actually boils anymore?  And funny enough, restoring data from your computer to your phone is actually faster than restoring from the cloud.

easierSo what if you want to keep using the cloud anyway?  “Ironically, iCloud, like many of the other cloud services, already offers two-factor authentication that might give you a little peace of mind: once you set it up, any time you need to access your backup account, it sends a text to the phone that’s registered with that account with a code that you have to type in before it will allow you to have access.”  Also, once the access process has been initiated, the code that is sent to your phone has a very short lifespan – usually under a minute – which is yet another layer of protection.  The trick is that you have to subscribe to the option, install it (if necessary) and then use it . . . every single time.

“A lot of companies have already implemented two-factor authentication (although a lot do not force customer to use it) and there are a lot of third-party apps to help. For instance Coinbase uses Authy for two-factor security.  And many banks – JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America – not only offer proprietary two-factor authentication but actually require that their customers use it for remote access.  There’s also a Google app that does essentially the same.”

And how to avoid the particular issue that’s in the news right now?  Says Holliman, “If you go to your Settings on iPhone, you can turn off Sync to iCloud and the same settings can be modified in iTunes so that you can selectively choose what does and doesn’t get backed up to iCloud – your photos, your calendar, emails, reminders, etc.”

While we’re at it, what exactly is the cloud?  In short, it’s shared, distributed server space. It’s not dedicated, proprietary data storage such as your hard drive or a company’s private server.  Your photos on Facebook, for instance, are cloud-based – and once you upload a photo, Facebook owns it always and forever, even if you delete your account.  (And yeah, that was in the fine print in the terms of service you agreed to when you started your account.)  Conversely, other similar-acting services such as Dropbox and Google Drive use secure encryption specifically for your data.  Says Holliman, “If you delete one of your folders from DropBox, it will be gone as soon as you clean out your trash.  All data is encrypted on their server and also, and by design, if you forget your password, you’re out of luck.”

What a Coinbase access authorization code looks like. Note the tiny lifespan.

What a Coinbase access authorization code looks like.
Note the tiny lifespan.

For business continuity and other professional users, he says, “First and foremost use a very difficult password.  Contrary to what a lot of people think, hacking is not always simple guessing.”  Hackers aim for the lowest-hanging fruit: and when they do resort to “guessing” (i.e., a brute force attack) the easier the password and more often you use it (don’t ever use the same password twice), the easier it is for them to figure out.”  Holliman recommends using a service such as LastPass which is “a browser-based plugin that generates very complicated passwords for the sites you commonly log in to and then they keep a record of them.  There’s even a LastPass app for the iPhone but in order to use it on your phone you have to switch from the secure site you want to access to LastPass, type in your encryption login, copy the password and then paste it into the site you want to visit.”  A pain in the butt . . . but much better security.

And only because it bears repeating, don’t use the same password twice.

Holliman continues, “Consciously select companies that use two-factor authorization and actively support those companies.  It’s very important to get in the habit of supporting them even if you just buy the lowest-tier of service.  Speaking of which, Apple actually uses very high-end encryption both on the storage side and when the data is in transit.”  But you have to actively participate in the process and not just set everything to automatically save every time you sync your phone.

This isn’t the first time celebrities have been victimized by cloud hacks.  Several years ago a number of the rich and famous discovered that hackers had managed to gain access to their voice mails by using a fairly simple VoIP scheme and taking advantage of the fact that many of the celebrities had failed to simply set up their voice mail access code option.  Again, another inconvenience but one that pays dividends.

From a corporate standpoint, a lot of companies that don’t even allow DropBox to be used by their employees.   Again, says Holliman, “Don’t upload anything [to a non-proprietary server] that you don’t want people outside the company to see.  If it’s company confidential, you should have adequate space on a proprietary server.”  And if the backup server is a dedicated point, make sure it’s the company’s own storage.  “A lot of backup server providers actually outsource the service and put their name on it.”  And some of them store the data where?  You guessed it – in the cloud.

Bottom line: “Don’t ever use the cloud, regardless of how it’s branded, for backup of corporate or personal proprietary information.”

And never, ever take nude selfies.

***

Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.





Earthquake Catches Many Off Guard – And Unprepared – After 25-Year Quake “Drought”

27 08 2014

Now that the dust has settled from Sunday morning’s earthquake northeast of San Francisco – the area’s largest quake since Loma Prieta in 1989 – it’s becoming apparent that although ‘only’ 200 or so people were hurt, there’s far more minor to moderate damage than can be seen from a news chopper.  Even some of the older residents who remember further back seem to have been caught by surprise at the amount of seemingly superficial damage that’s leading to so many structures, including those that house companies, being red-tagged.

Props to PG&E which quickly restored power to most of the 70,000 residents who lost it after the quake and the natural gas infrastructure evidently came through it without a hitch.  Losing power is a major hassle but not terrible considering the region’s usually comfortable nighttime temperatures; many homes in that part of the country don’t even have air conditioning.  But water is a different and far more substantial issue.  Water service still hasn’t been  restored for up to for up to 600 homes.  Napa’s lifeblood is tourism and I’m wondering how many restaurants and other tourist-centered businesses are without water and still unable to operate.

the-big-oneI’ve been in two earthquakes: a noticeable but not major quake in the Los Angeles area in 1970 (not the much larger one in 1971) and the August 8, 1989 foreshock of Loma Prieta.  Services were not substantially interrupted as a result of either of the ones I experienced but each earthquake was still a mind-bending experience.  Both of the different families I was staying with had backup supplies, including substantial amounts of potable water, which was kind of unusual in 1989 and considered almost an oddity in 1970.  The residents of Napa who don’t have water service right now are getting their drinking and cooking water from joint city and Red Cross water stations and the restaurants and other businesses will probably recover if service is restored quickly.

What concerns me is the “surprised” attitude of so many of the affected people.

Even some of the continuity experts in the region were affected by the quake.  And remember, quakes aren’t even near the top of naturally occurring events that can have an impact on business continuity (although that article’s suggested prep checklist fails to mention one of the single most important aspects of thorough preparedness).

So we get yet another reminder about why it’s so very important to be prepared.  Thoroughness and diligence are essential for business continuity plans to work, even (and particularly) on a personal level, especially in areas of the world that are always at risk for severe natural events to have a negative impact.  Even if it’s been a long time since the last “big one.”

Am I preaching to the choir?  Perhaps.  But rather than just add another page to our songbook, let’s use this event to remind ourselves – and our organizations – of how critical it is to be ready for crunch time regardless of the reason for crunch, especially if there’s been a long drought since the last one.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.





Think Your Business Continuity Job is Hard? Not After You See What This Guy’s Responsible For

22 08 2014

Last week we went on the Sam Houston Boat Tour of the Port of Houston and it was a kick.  Educational, too.  The outing was part of the monthly meeting of the South Texas Chapter of the Association of Contingency Planners and I learned a lot more than I had, um, planned to.

That I’m a native Houstonian and did not take this tour for the first time until last week is more than a little embarrassing because the Port of Houston is such a massive, integral and beneficial part of this city and the entire country.  In fact, it’s the reason the city exists at all.

Part of the South Texas ACP crew on the bow of the M/V Sam Houston. Click to enlarge.

Part of the South Texas ACP crew on the bow of the M/V Sam Houston. Click to enlarge.

The original port of record for the Texas Gulf Coast was Galveston but the devastating hurricane of 1900 rewrote history and the need for a more sheltered port further up into Galveston Bay was realized by shipping companies, merchants and travelers.  Today the Port of Houston is the busiest foreign tonnage port in the U.S. – it would be the biggest domestic tonnage port, too, except that New Orleans gets the boost from all of the river traffic – and the thirteenth largest in the world.  The number of direct and indirect jobs related to the Port is astounding (hint: it’s north of a million) but you can read all the mind-blowing facts here.

So how’d you like to be the guy who makes sure it all flows smoothly, safely and efficiently?

Meet Capt. Marcus Woodring, CEM, TEM, a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and now the Managing Director of Health, Safety, Security and Emergency Management for the Port of Houston Authority, the governing body responsible for the Port’s operations, growth and development.  To get an idea of the scope of Capt. Woodring’s scope of responsibility, take a look at this stunning 2 ½-minute time-lapse video of a tanker’s night departure Gulf-bound from the head of the Houston Ship Channel not too far from where the boat tour launches.

Granted, not all of the real estate shown in the video is the Port of Houston but most of the first two minutes of it is.  Luckily Capt. Woodring has fairly ample resources to wield in order to keep the continuity lid on the Port including a fairly large Port jurisdictional police department, an impressive fire department staffed 100% by marine-rated firefighters who have to endure an annual recertification test that you wouldn’t believe, three brand new high-speed, high-volume fireboats and a surveillance network that would make James Bond reconsider.

My not very good photo of Capt. Woodring with the overview.

My not very good photo of Capt. Woodring with the overview.

After the boat tour, Capt. Woodring was nice enough to give us a half-hour description over lunch not only of the responsibilities of the various departments he oversees but also a few behind-the-scenes stories.  For instance, they spend a huge percentage of time each year engaged in various training scenarios.  And international incidents such as stowaway occurrences are surprisingly rare.  But it’s still an interesting place to do business: among the 30+ arrests on Port property year-to-date were two rap musicians who were using – obviously without permission – a drone to shoot footage of the Port for their latest video.  They accidentally crashed it into a berthed Chinese cargo ship.  Oops.

All that responsibility and yet I left more reassured than ever that all the bases are covered as far as safety and security at the Port.  Woodring and his staff are an experienced, well-trained and extremely confident bunch.  Not action-movie ‘confident’ but genuine, steely-eyed confident about what they do, what the potential threats are and how they manage and prevent them 24/7.

I can think of a few places and organizations where an airtight business continuity plan might be as important but none where it might be more important.  I’ve only been in the profession for 8 years but I’ve seen lots of continuity checklists and most of those contain perhaps two or three dozen items on them.  And a well-honed list of trigger points (in the event of an anticipated calamity such as an approaching hurricane) usually only has a dozen or so action items.  I would imagine, however, that Capt. Woodring and his staff have created, maintain and constantly tweak their much larger lists and that they probably even have one or more checklists that just list all of the other checklists to cover the possibility of fire, explosions, medical assistance and transport, aviation issues, ecological concerns, legal issues, international personnel issues, collisions both on and offshore, spills, leaks, the potential for terrorism, inclement and possibly destructive weather . . . even contingencies for multiple but different types of events occurring simultaneously.  It flat out makes your head spin.

A small section of the Port of Houston.  Photo: Port of Houston Authority

A small section of the Port of Houston. Photo: Port of Houston Authority

One of the most interesting topics he covered in his presentation is the sheer geographical expanse that his teams have to cover and prepare for.  The Port Authority owns and operates nine distinct operations centers which are spread out over an area that’s 25 miles long and are all in motion every moment of every single day.  It makes me wonder why they’ve never made what goes on there into its own reality TV series.

Incidentally, the boat tour is free, only lasts 90 minutes and departs twice a day Wednesday through Sunday.  The next time you’re in the neighborhood, look into it.

Interested in learning more about how they manage business continuity at the Port of Houston?  Let us know in the comments section and I’ll see what we can do about getting Capt. Woodring to share more in a webinar about their operations and what he’s learned in the three years since he’s been there.

 


 

webinar-ACPIn other news, we posted the ACP Webinar Series presentation on our YouTube channel that Continuity Housing principal Michelle Lowther made last week entitled “Securing Guaranteed Hotel Rooms For Your Organization In a Deployment – Case Studies” and you can access it here.  Feel free to share it with anyone you think might be interested.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.

 





“When I Grow Up, I Want To Be In Business Continuity Management!”

14 08 2014

improvisation“You do what?”  That’s what most of us hear so often when someone asks us what we do for a living.  Dedicated business continuity as a profession is still in its infancy and it still gets a lot of quizzical stares when you talk about it, similar to what IT professionals used to experience in the mid ‘80’s.  “Wait, you mean that’s an actual job?”

So what IS a nice person like you doing in a place this anyway?  Did you know you’d end up on call all the time and working almost 24/7 during some future employers’ crises?  Very few of us actually planned on being in this industry when we were younger.  Sure, maybe we obtained degrees in business or project management and/or have a BC-style background in the military.  But very few of us, even several years into our business careers, were aiming at working in BC or even knew it existed.

I certainly didn’t until an organization I used to work for created a BC division to help their clients.  Once I learned about it, I was all in.  The very concept fascinates me: pre-planned, tested activities that help keep companies strong even if they’re dealt what would previously would have been a mortal blow.  And keeping everybody employed!  Crazy.  And now that I’m here, I’m here to stay.

My education and overall background are in marketing but I come from a restaurant family so we’ve always been involved in hospitality one way or another.  And that’s how I look at business continuity – making sure people are taken care of.  BC takes it a step further, though.  It’s taking care of people as well as possible when they need it the most.  And, more importantly, when their organizations need them to be performing at their best.

shareSo we practice, improve, evolve and always learn from our mistakes.  But the most important thing we can do is pass along what we know.  Mentorship is important in any industry and, just like we once were, there are always new, less informed folks coming in.  I remember my first light bulb moment when I realized not only that business continuity existed but that it was an essential business tool.  I was touring a popular FBO at an airport in the Orlando area and the owner showed me the way they sheltered their backup generator – on a trailer to get it out in the open within moments when they need to operate it – and their backup supplies to keep the business running when the next hurricane hit.  “You think general aviation isn’t pretty important to keep in business after a bad hurricane?” she asked me.  Almost 8 years later I got a big kick out of taking a much younger new coworker to the same place to show her how they prepared for interruptions.  I still remember the “Ohhhhh!” look on her face.

Especially those who have no idea what we do.

So what about you?  How DID a nice person like you end up in a place like this?  Tell us below.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.

 





Two Reasons for BC Professionals to Join the Association of Contingency Planners: Better Results For You and More Money (Also For You)

24 07 2014

I’m probably a little shy of the age (that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!) when I can use phrases like “back in the day” but I don’t remember there ever being so very many options for different industry organizations to join.  I remember groups like the American Institute of Architects and the American Medical Association – old school professional organizations that seem to have been around for eons.  Now, however, and especially with the explosion of activity on LinkedIn, there seem to be half a dozen DONT-KEEP-SECRETSprofessional organizations for every industry, sub-industry, niche profession and one-of-a-kind vocation on the planet.  If you’re a left-handed pediatric veterinary cosmetic micro-surgeon, there’s a place for you.  The dilemma we sometimes face now: too many options.  But for BC pros, the Association of Contingency Planners makes it an easy choice.

Naturally the Association provides a number of excellent reasons for joining but for me it boils down to a single reason: opportunity.  Or maybe two single reasons: opportunity that leads to more money earned and more money saved by our clients.  Then there are the opportunities for education, networking and enhancement of my company’s BC and DR plans and suddenly, joining up makes a whole lot of sense. Annual dues (just $125) are pro-rated monthly so if you join this month you only have to pay for the rest of this year.  It’s a bargain.  Full disclosure: I don’t work for ACP in any capacity but Continuity Housing is indeed working with the Association in order to re-introduce their popular and free webinar series for its members.

[Speaking of which . . . the first of the webinar series will be "Securing Guaranteed Hotel Rooms For Your Organization In a Deployment: A Tale of Two Companies (Case Studies)" on Tuesday, August 12th at 10:30 Central presented by yours truly.  There are more than 60 negotiable terms in a hotel’s group booking contract, and this session will equip you with creative, unique ways to craft those contracts to your organization’s best advantage to fit the unique aspects of a crisis management booking.  Find out more and register for this free, fast-paced, 45-minute webinar here.]

So what’s the ROI on joining the ACP?  Results will vary depending on your level of commitment but let’s take a little field trip across the last eight years of my professional life:

  • 2006: I created Continuity Housing’s patent-pending program to guarantee companies hotel rooms on a contingency basis without having to pay an arm and a leg for them.
  • 2009: I joined ACP. (Should’ve joined earlier.)
    • Which begat a presentation I made to a local chapter about avoiding the pitfalls of securing guaranteed housing for critical personnel in the event of a disaster and/or a business interruption.
    • Which led to me being asked to present similar material to other chapters.
    • Which resulted in me getting to meet ImpactWeather’s business continuity team managed by Ed Schlichtenmyer and, at that time, Mike Thomson who asked me to present not once but twice at the company’s annual Hurricane Symposium.
    • Which in turn introduced me to Ed Goldberg enabling me to present in a number of the original ACP Webinar Series which started in 2011.
    • Which fomented (I’m running out of terms that mean “which led to”) a continuing series of invitations for me to make presentations at national industry conferences hosted by Continuity Insights, EEI, ACP and CPM – as well as the webinar next month for ACP (we posted about that this past Wednesday) and presentations to local ACP chapters in CA, CT, FL, MA, NY, TX and WA.
    • And they told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on… (Click here if you’re too young to understand that reference.)
  • And all along the way and with increasing frequency, Continuity Housing has been exposed to more opportunities. And by opportunities, I mean contracts.  And by contracts, I mean revenue.

Also as a direct result of my membership, I got one degree closer to Kevin Bacon.  Just kidding.  Although that would be awesome and I encourage you to check out The Following some week.

And no, it’s not all, or even mostly, about the monetary gain.  It’s the less tangible bennies that keep me coming back to ACP.

acp-webinars-awesomeOne of the Continuity Housing team members goes fairly far offshore to fish from time to time and more than once in the past he’s told me about the informal but rigidly obeyed tradition of mariners helping each other out whenever a nearby crew or their boat is in trouble and that the entire BC community acts in much the same way.  We don’t keep secrets.  We share what we learn so that we all get better at what we do and learn new ways to keep even more people more efficiently out of harm’s way.  In fact, we attended a gathering the week before last hosted by the South Texas Chapter (see photo) and had a great time learning some new things, making some new connections and reconnections and hearing about what’s next, which for this particular chapter is a  very cool 90-minute boat tour of the Port of Houston in mid-August before the monthly chapter meeting and lunch.

So that’s what you get out of the ACP.  An engaged, devoted community, new approaches, better results.  And that’s the real benefit.

The best looking, most interesting ACP local chapter in America.  Click to enlarge.

The best looking, most interesting ACP local chapter in America. Click to enlarge.

For more information – including where your nearest chapter meets – visit the ACP website and click on the Membership tab at the top.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or to find out about a free 30-minute consultation, let us know.








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