How managers can move their organization from reactive emergencies to planned activities
Angela Testa, senior vice president of operations at American Campus Communities, strengthens operations without compromising a healthy work environment
Contingency planning: The Y2K doomsday scenarios that never materialized will haunt us well into the new century, if only when we revisit how much time and money was spent on computer crash antidotes — at the expense of other critical facility needs. 9/11 was a sobering reminder that it’s just as easy to get complacent in our facility security planning.
Having experienced both ends of the contingency planning spectrum — needless and expensive over-preparation and costly oversights — how can a maintenance manager get his or her arms around what represents just the right amount of contingency planning? Planning needs will depend in part on the operation your maintenance mission supports, the type of people who move in and out of your facilities and the nature of your operation: one or two buildings, a campus of buildings, or buildings located across the country.
Also, contingency planning tends to imply “fire safety,” “security” or “general disaster” to most planners. In reality, most businesses represent myriad issues that need to be analyzed for their importance to the overall mission and “cost” to the organization if they are affected in a negative way.
A good place to start: www.ContingencyPlanning.com. Check out the site’s BCP (Business Contingency Planning) Handbook, for a list of so-called disruption defenses and a host of planning issues from blackouts to biological hazards, labor problems to loss of records, and power outages to sick-building syndrome.
Threats of terrorism. Concerns over SARS. Fallout from the war in Iraq. Combine these issues with tightening budgets in facilities, and suddenly, virtual meetings have become more appealing than ever. For example, teleconferencing minutes rose 23 percent from February to March for Sprint Corp., and they’re up 58 percent from March 2002, a Sprint spokeswoman tells The New York Times.
Investments in technology that supports Web conferences, video conferences and telephone conference calls rose sharply after Sept. 11, say telecommuting consultants, and more organizations now are turning to these options to keep employees in contact when operations are distant and communication need not be in person.
Instant messaging is moving into workplaces with an impact that is starting to rival e-mail and the cellphone, according to Forrester Research, a technology research firm. What’s driving the rise of IM-ing, as it is known?
It is less intrusive than a phone call and more immediate than e-mail, the firm says, and it is finding users far more quickly than e-mail did when it was first introduced. Also, companies such as Yahoo and Microsoft AOL use free IM software on the Internet to lure customers to their other services.
The first generation to grow up with instant messaging is moving into the work workplace and bringing IM with it. Most IM conversations are one-on-one, but senders can include other people. As a result, IM is being hailed as as a new productivity tool.