I am flying back from a small, private and exclusive invitation-only conference in Chicago. This conference is only open to industry’s most esteemed and established IT service providers. The private technology briefings, at this semi-annual event, provide the best updates on cool new stuff that solves real business problems.

One such gem, came the first morning, with a fabulous presentation by Peter Heles on business continuity planning. He has developed a toolkit and software-as-a-service solution that solves several problems in BCP. This 30-year veteran of IT came up the ranks through Burroughs, Novell, IBM and independent consulting. He is a real process planner, a trait that is rare in the Information Technology industry. He and his team have crafted a solution that makes business continuity planning structured and organized… and dare I say, almost easy.

He goes way beyond the limited approach of most professionals who don’t have much specific experience in BCP. Those less experienced folks figure they will just throw together a few redundant IT appliances in a vague attempt at providing backup & disaster recovery and business continuity planning. His Statistic or Survivor trademarked 64-step methodology is reinforced in his software-as-a-service platform. SoS is not just limited to a technology approach to BCP. SoS starts by identifying internal and external champions that are essential sponsors of any successful business continuity planning process. He goes on to identify that these plans require not only the involvement of IT personnel but, are in fact, most reliant on HR and the CFO.

Site inspections are done. Pertinent risk areas are identified. Contingency Plans and responses are documented and put into place for everything from weather disasters to earthquakes, and even terrorism and pandemics are addressed. Sensible issues are confronted like, “Who will respond and work the plan in a disaster?” Peter acknowledges that these plans sound great on paper, but questions whether the essential responder will be willing to perform when needed or simply abdicate duty in favor of the needs of family at home? Considerations such as this must be addressed. Then there is the issue of access to the actual Business Continuity Plan during a disaster. A nice manual can’t be sitting on a shelf, or worse, under rubble at the office. SoS solves this problem.

Peter points out that insurance company statistics show that how companies respond in the first four hours of a disaster is make-or-break. 90% of companies that fail to resume operations within 5 days are out of business in one year. 78% of the companies who suffer a disaster without a business continuity plan are out of business in two years. That results in lost jobs, lost wealth and equity.

The BCP process is somewhat time consuming, but the SoS approach makes the task manageable, achievable and durable. Through Alvaka’s NetSecure and DRworX solutions, I plan on structuring client work shops to help guide them through this process. I can’t wait. This almost feels exciting to be able to get a handle around this source of persistent anxiety. For the busiest of us or those urgently needing a plan right now, there is even a lite version. We all have no more excuses.