Where’s the beef? The question was posed in a 1984’s Wendy’s ad where a large, fluffy bun contained a tiny hamburger. Over time the phrase has come to refer to many situations large on visibility but lacking in substance.
I now pose the same question regarding business continuity the impacts (or their lack of impact) on businesses and communities.
For years, many of us in the BCP industry have used the same statistics to encourage (or scare) businesses, organizations, managers, and leaders that business continuity planning must be addressed because:
n 43 percent of businesses suffering a disaster never recover sufficiently to resume business. Of those that do reopen, only 29 percent are still operating two years later.
n 93 percent that lost their IT (information technology) area for more than nine days had filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster, according to the National Archives & Records Administration.
n 50 percent that found themselves without their data for more than nine days filed for bankruptcy immediately.
n Of the 350 businesses operating in the World Trade Center before the Feb. 26, 1993, bombing, 150 were out of business a year later. For many, the reason was that they simply could not re-enter the building for several days after the bombing.
These numbers may be valid, or may have been valid when first used. But are they valid today, more than 10 years after they were first used. They are also negative, referring only to dangers of not having BC plans.
I’ve done Internet searches, conducted surveys of BCP/DR association members and talked to insurance industry representatives, but can’t find new numbers to show current benefits and costs of having or not having BCP plans.
There are surveys on dollars spent, percent changes in BCP budgets, ratio of BCP budget to IT budget, percent of businesses reporting on the status of their BCP programs (or lack of programs), but as an industry we need hard numbers to make our case. Those numbers should also include positive benefits.
What we need are hard numbers on organizations suffering disasters with and without BC Plans and information on actual costs/benefits of BC planning.
n Benefits of BC planning vs. costs of BC planning – Did dollars spent on DR planning result in other benefits or cost savings? Did DR planning efforts help identify alternative processes or otherwise result in cost savings? For example did implementation of a BCP program result in reduced insurance costs/rates or more cost effective backup, storage, or processing methods. Did having or not having BC Plans affected availability and/or cost of financing, or helped meet local or national regulatory requirements and associated costs.
n Dollars spent on BCP vs. dollars saved/lost from disaster – Did plans make a difference and what was the payoff in terms of dollars spent vs. cost of the disaster itself? The disasters should not be only large, Katrina-like events, but should include any significant business interruptions
n Improved organizational image or reputation – Has the visible presence of BC plans contributed to winning or losing business, or affected employee satisfaction, morale, or commitment.
Unfortunately, too many organizations still see BCP and DR programs only as an expense, or that a disaster won’t happen to them, or it will cost too much. As an industry, we need to demonstrate not only the costs of what we do, but the benefits as well. In all too many instances, non-regulated businesses will never develop plans to protect themselves unless they can see real benefits or be required to do so by their insurers or bankers. Few of us in the BCP industry want more regulations, so we need to find documented evidence of the benefits of BC planning.
Where’s the Beef? I’m asking you! Help find documented hard numbers on costs and benefits of business continuity and disaster recovery programs.
Please send appropriately sanitized, documented numbers, with contact information to email@example.com.
David A. Shimberg, CBCP, is BC/DR manager at Premier, Inc. (Charlotte, San Diego, Washington DC), a winner of the 2006 National Baldrige Quality Award. He is a member of the DRJ Editorial Advisory Board and has worked as a BC manager with Bank of America. He is past chairman of the Contingency Planning Association of the Carolinas and is chairman of the All Hazards Advisory Committee for Charlotte, NC. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Appeared in DRJ's Summer 2007 Issue"