--> Gill Blog: Schools Incorporating Business Continuity Strategies

Gill Blog

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Schools Incorporating Business Continuity Strategies

Recently, there’s been tremendous emphasis placed on tightening risk management standards at schools across Ontario. The recent Safety Audit Survey sent by the Ministry of Education provides evidence of this trend. Given the degree to which publicly-funded school boards are making these front burner policy issues, it seems natural they apply standards that not only safeguard people, but the underlying assets, and systems.

The financial services industry and government provide a window to how this is being approached, as these sectors have worked diligently to create strategies countering the effects of downtime associated with disruptive events such as blackouts, ice storms, or even basement floods. Although schools have not been an initial focus, security experts, insurers and risk professionals have started identifying them as places that are becoming more susceptible to a spate of naturally-occurring and anthropogenic phenomena. Schools are unique and therefore, for a risk plan to be effective, it should address vulnerabilities compromising the continuity of school operations.

Taking a wider view of risk at schools makes good business sense - it not only ensures the primary mission of the school is fulfilled, but it can minimize downtime, better manage the school’s risk profile and even save lives. The impact of disruptive events can:

- Interrupt the continuity of student instruction
- Disrupt the provision of services
- Damage physical assets including buildings, artifacts, and labs

Byproducts of event-related disruptions can occur too. These include an impact on computer systems (tied to student/alumni records), supply chain partners, food services and productivity. The financial impact imposed can also be substantial. Boards regularly invest funds to upgrade facilities and amenities - large-scale events can destroy them in a moment. Regardless of size, disruptive events impact a board’s bottom line and this can result in monetary losses and legal liability.

This article by Tony Gill, Managing Director of Gill Advisors Inc., was recently published in the Ontario School Boards' Insurance Exchange newsletter, ORACLE, available in pdf format.

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