Effectively fulfilling your role as a business continuity executive means not only understanding your organization’s ability to remain resilience in the face of any disruptive event or disaster, but also proactively contributing, sanctioning and enforcing an effective business continuity program. I put together a short outline of steps you should take as you build your business continuity management program.
1. Create your own unique ‘best fit’ framework for a sustainable resilience, continuity and disaster recovery program
The critical considerations of this framework include:
- Program strategy: sponsorship, steering committee, policy
- Program scope: how big, how wide, how deep
- Program support: rollout, training, work effort, support model
2. Establish an interdisciplinary business continuity management team
Engage the most senior leadership from each department of the organization when defining an enterprise-wide program with standardized methods, tools, and expert support. Each department head should “own” their part of the plan.
3. Define and understand 7 corporate competencies such as:
Leadership – The commitment and understanding demonstrated by executive management with regard to the implementation of an appropriately scaled, enterprise-wide business continuity program. As well, the degree to which the “business case” for implementing sustainable business continuity has been articulated and understood by executive management.
Employee Awareness – The breadth and depth of business continuity conceptual awareness throughout all staff levels of the organization including consideration for the quality and sustainability of the BC training and awareness program.
BC Program Structure – The scale and appropriateness of the business continuity program implemented across the Enterprise. The degree to which the BCM Program matches the articulated “business case”.
Program Pervasiveness – The level of business continuity coordination between departments, functions, and business units across the Enterprise. The degree to which business continuity considerations have been incorporated in other appropriate business initiatives, programs, and processes.
Metrics – The development and monitoring of appropriate measures of BCM Program performance. The establishment and tracking of a business continuity competency baseline.
Resource Commitment – The application of sufficient, properly trained and supported personnel, financial, and other resources to ensure the sustainability of the BCM Program.
External Coordination – Coordination of business continuity issues and requirements with external community including customers, vendors, government, unions, banks, creditors, insurance carriers, etc., ensuring that critical supply chain partners have adequate BCM Programs of their own in place.
4. Don’t forget the 8th Corporate Competency!
Implements the four central disciplines of business continuity:
- Incident Management – Ensuring that all aspects of emergency response, crisis management, and any other activities involved in command, control, and communications during a organizational crisis and/or disastrous event are appropriately addressed.
- Security Management – Ensuring that physical security, information security, and any other activities associated with protecting the integrity of targeted information and resources are appropriately addressed.
- Technology Recovery – Ensuring that critical information systems hardware, software, networks, and applications are adequately recoverable within defined recovery time objectives.
- Business Recovery – Ensuring that critical business functions and resources are adequately recoverable within defined recovery time objectives.
5. Consider the use of business continuity planning software.
Software can be powerful, but it only works as well as your overarching continuity management program & the plans and data you put into it. Enterprise resilience can be a sustainable process if business managers are “hands-on” in building and providing updates, enabling Business Continuity professionals to use their time to analyze exposures, enhance preparedness, and consult with the business continuity team. Business unit managers should be able to easily “own” their data, documents, and plans.
6. Choose a dynamic vs. static resilience program posture
The business continuity program you create should not only match how you deploy your business continuity program today. It should also be easily altered over time to adapt to changing maturity of your program. Note that program maturity will be driven by a number of factors including executive support, organizational change, regulatory change, and systems change. The business continuity program must remain dynamic and adaptable in order to keep the organization resilient.
In order for a program to be sustainable, it must first:
- build enterprise engagement
- communicate with data, systems & team
- gain commitment from senior management
- be specific to your organization’s needs
- demonstrate an ROI
7. Prepare an executable BC Program Implementation Plan:
Build a plan that includes the following:
- Program Staffing Plan
- Business Continuity Policy
- BC Program Launch Plan
- Phase 1 – Prepare for BC Program Launch
- Phase 2 – Conduct BC Program Pilot
- Phase 3 – Launch BC Program
- Phase 4 – Sustain Program Steady State Continuous Improvement
Establishing an appropriately scaled BC program can help ensure your organization’s continued service to your community and minimize the financial impact during a disruptive event. An responsive, well thought out business continuity plan can optimize significant opportunity to be able to resume full operations efficiently and cost effectively.