The title "Professionalism in BCP" has been used for a breakout session at several recent DRJ conferences, but a definition of the title has been lacking. It seems only appropriate, if we intend to continue using the title, that we attempt to give meaning to the expression "professionalism in business continuity planning."
The word professional is defined in the Random House American College Dictionary as: professional character, spirit, or methods. As a noun, professional is defined as: one belonging to one of the learned or skilled professions. This begs the definition of the word profession, and it is appropriately defined as: a vocation requiring knowledge of some department of learning or science. Picking up on the use of the words knowledge and skilled in these definitions, professionalism is business continuity planning may then be defined as "displaying the character, spirit, methods and skills that exhibit evidence of knowledge and experience in business continuity planning."
It seems safe to imply, therefore, that a professional in the field of business continuity planning is one who has attained a recognized level of knowledge and experience, and who consistently applies that knowledge and experience to the skilled practice of generating, or guiding others in generating, effective business continuity plans. The question to be answered, of course, is: how does one attain a "recognized level of knowledge and experience" in the practice of business continuity planning?
Obviously, one can begin with basic knowledge and, over time, compile a set of references testifying to their knowledge and experience in business continuity planning thereby establishing a professional reputation.
If you get pulled over by law enforcement while driving, they don’t have time for you to demonstrate your driving skills. They want to see your driver’s license.
So too, most employers and contractors are not willing to spend the time needed to examine and check out all your business continuity planning references, when they can rely on reputable certifications of business continuity knowledge and experience.
If you were to ask the president of GM’s Saturn division how to provide the best transportation for yourself or your family, the likely answer would be "buy a Saturn automobile."
It should come as no surprise, then, that DRI International considers our business continuity certifications as the best way in the world to confirm your knowledge and experience in business continuity planning.
It would be inaccurate to imply that DRI International offers the only means in the world to business continuity certification. The United Kingdom’s Business Continuity Institute would be quick to contest such an implication, along with several other more recently formed organizations. However, with origins going back 18 years to 1988, DRI International is proud to consider it’s education and certification programs to be the premier or benchmark offerings in the continuity management field.
Aside from the pride of recognition that comes with formal certification as a business continuity professional, what else characterizes true professionalism in business continuity planning? Being certified in the field of business continuity planning certainly opens up significant opportunities for professional recognition and growth. Opportunities for promotion and added compensation are not just "certification hype" but are actually documented in annual surveys that have been conducted for several years. There are many instances where job descriptions or request for proposal documents specify a requirement for certified professionals to fill positions or staff contracted support.
On the personal satisfaction front, certified professionals are frequently invited as guest speakers, and often sought by the media for comment, information and opinion following occurrence of a disastrous event. BCP professionals often find personal reward through community involvement where their certified professionalism can assist in preparedness of both local government and small businesses to ensure survival of the local economy in a disaster. And of course, such local activity continues to build an individual’s credentials and reputation as one who truly exhibits professionalism in business continuity planning.
DRI International’s certifications are based on demonstration of knowledge through a proctored examination, and verification of experience through verified documentation of specific functions performed. Both the knowledge base for the examination and the skills and abilities used to verify experience are based on the Professional Practices for Business Continuity Planners, a document covering 10 areas of knowledge, skills and ability considered key to professionalism in business continuity planning.
Although DRI International originally created the professional practices, it is now the accepted standard for other certification programs. DRI International continues to maintain its leadership position in the area of education and certification of business continuity professionals through a variety of related activities.
If certification in business continuity planning sounds like an avenue you’d like to follow, the breakout session titled "Professionalism in BCP" at the DRJ conferences can provide you with additional detail on several aspects of certification. The subject areas of the professional practices are covered along with the specific range of certification offerings, from associate to master level professional, and the criteria used for evaluation of your knowledge and experience. If you can’t wait for the conference, check us out at www.drii.org.
Professionalism in BCP should be an objective of everyone who is contributing to this growing critical field of endeavor.
Paul R. Thomas Jr., MBCP, CEM, is chairman of the DRI International Board of Directors with 15 years on the board. Thomas also serves as a local emergency management director and is retired from the IBM Corporation where he was a business systems and business continuity planning consultant.
"Appeared in DRJ's Winter 2007 Issue"