Actor Mickey Rooney once said, “You always pass failure on your way to success.”
It has been said frequently over the past few months, as our economy has taken a significant downturn and most companies are cutting back dramatically on expenses, that business continuity planning (and in some cases planners themselves) will inevitably be hit hard because executives view the discipline only as a below the line expense.
While we all bear at least some part of the hardships this recession has brought, a case has to be made for the critical importance of preparedness – right here, right now, and for every one of us. Moreover, there is a vital need for the genuine preparedness that flows from planning done by those who are truly qualified to engage in such planning. The following statement is not meant to shock the readers, but not all who say that they are qualified business continuity professionals necessarily are such – and due diligence in today’s job market has evolved from a good idea to a fundamental component of the selection process.
During the good times when many businesses were prospering, we business continuity professionals were often heard to complain that we couldn’t get the attention of top management and that we were often confronted with a “won’t happen to us” mentality that frequently viewed us as the “Chicken Littles” of the corporate world.
Now that the economic sky has indeed fallen, the game has changed. Adverse events that once would have been viewed as inconveniences or minor losses have now become potentially fatal disasters for many businesses already on the edge.
In this environment, business continuity has become a familiar (if not always clearly understood) term, and business continuity planning a common discipline. Now even specifically recognized as an occupation by the U.S. Department of Labor, business continuity planners are enjoying a level of recognition previously unknown to those of us who have been around the block a time or two.
Unfortunately, this increase in opportunity has led to an increase in opportunists, and now there are more self-designated “experts” in our field than good BCP job opportunities. Faced with this abundance of claimed expertise, most employers are turning to a relatively simple technique to sort out the “haves” from the “have nots” – business continuity job postings now almost always contain some iteration of the phrase “BCP certification required/strongly recommended.”
Possessing a current certification from a globally recognized certification provider may not be a guarantee of a job for life, but such certifications are universally recognized as valid achievements in a profession where few other constants exist – in fact, at times it seems that we have more glossaries and standards than we have practitioners.
Moreover, to be fair, there are indeed experienced and capable professionals in business continuity planning that have never sought certification, or who were certified years ago but let their credentials lapse for what may have been good reasons at the time. Yet even experienced professionals should consider applying for (or renewing) a highly regarded certification in today’s climate of economic uncertainty – one might call it “contingency planning” or even perhaps “setting a good example!”
In any event, having a quality credential in an industry where there are so many contenders – and some pretenders – for positions that are receiving more attention from prospective employers than ever before just makes good sense. Whether one chooses to think of it as investing in oneself, or as becoming a part of the community of certified business continuity professionals, or even as becoming more competitive in this competitive world, achieving and holding a business continuity certification is planning for success.
Something we all should do a little more of, don’t you think?
John B. Copenhaver, CBCP, is the president and chief executive officer of DRI International. Copenhaver was appointed by President Bill Clinton as director of FEMA’s Region IV office in 1997, and served in that capacity until 2001.