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Friday, 20 September 2019 14:12

As Easy as 1-2-3: How to Launch a Business Continuity Program

Written by  MICHAEL HERRERA

This article first appeared on BCMmetrics.com

Many companies put off starting a business continuity program because they think doing so is too hard. In today’s post, we’ll boil down the process of launching a BC program to three clear, simple steps.

Obviously, starting a BC program is a complex undertaking. But sometimes people make it more complex than it needs to be.

I think the whole process of starting a program to protect your organization from outages and disasters can be reduced to three basic steps.

If you focus on these steps, you might find that you can cut through the clutter and paralysis and start taking action now to help your company begin establishing a BC program that will safeguard the organization and its stakeholders.

It makes starting a BC program as easy as 1-2-3.

The three steps are:

  1. Get educated.
  2. Get a project manager.
  3. Get focused.

We’ll talk about each in more detail below.

STEP 1: GET EDUCATED

Step 1 is to Get educated – meaning, make the effort to teach yourself the basics of business continuity.

I’m not saying don’t make a move until you obtain your ISO 22301 Certified Business Continuity Manager certification. You don’t have to go that far.

However, you should know the basics.

For example, you should know what a business impact analysis (BIA) is and understand the difference between business continuity and IT/disaster recovery (IT/DR). You should be familiar with such key BC concepts as inherent and residual riskrisk tolerance, and risk mitigation controls. (The links are to previous posts of ours on these topics.)

There are plenty of (free) resources online to help, including many at the BCMMETRICS and MHA Consulting blogs.

You can also get help from a BCM consultant.

What you shouldn’t do is bring a consultant into a big meeting and then, when they start trying to provide the help you requested, challenge their competence while you yourself have no idea of the basics of business continuity.

Suppose someone took a car into a mechanic and complained it wasn’t driving properly, and the mechanic looked at it and said, “The problem is, you have a flat tire. We need to take the wheel off and fix your flat.” And then suppose the customer said, “Not true! You’re just trying to chisel us. This car doesn’t need inflated tires to run properly.” . . .  That’s life as a BC consultant sometimes when you’re dealing with uninformed clients.

You don’t want to be like that customer (unrealistic and uninformed) when it comes to your BC program. It makes everything harder for everyone, and it won’t help you in getting your organization protected.

STEP 2: GET A PROJECT MANAGER

Step 2 is Get a project manager. You need to pick someone to be in charge of launching the BC program at the organization. Fitting the right person in place can make or break your program.

What sort of person are you looking for? You don’t necessarily need a BC wizard. What you need is an organized, mature, and diplomatic self-starter. This person should be a good facilitator and have excellent project management skills. They should be able to work cross-functionally and across the organization. Your project manager should have a solid understanding of the core concepts of BC and be willing to learn more. They should be able to talk to many different kinds of people (from technical people to senior executives). Your program manager should be able to follow a defined set of steps to implement a program.

As an extension of getting a good program manager in place, you might consider bringing in an outside business continuity consultant. For information on how to find a good one, see Richard Long’s post Client’s Guide to Hiring a BC Consultant at the MHA Consulting blog. If you do bring in outside help, make sure the consultant is on board with training your in-house project manager so he or she can eventually continue the implementation alone. You don’t want to rely too heavily on the consultant.

STEP 3: GET FOCUSED

The third and final step is Get focused.

By get focused I mean, focus on the most important areas of the business. Home in on what really matters. Be disciplined. Don’t try to boil the ocean. Don’t tackle too much when you launch your business continuity program.

In doing your first BIA, limit it to five to seven business units. You want to get the most important parts of the business covered in a timely manner. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. When new BCM programs try to do too much too soon, they usually end up taking a long time to do very little. Trying to do too much often leads to chaos.

Create a roadmap. Pick a period of time that is amenable to everyone. It could be 12 months. It could be for 24 months. Start small. Lay out the steps you want to accomplish in that period of time. Do a limited number of BIA interviews, focusing on the most important business units. Then move on to creating your strategies and plans, such as creating a crisis management plan. Be realistic. The company has other things going on. There are times of the year when you might get very little done due to distractions. Factor all that into your schedule.

START YOUR BCM PROGRAM LAUNCH TODAY

Setting up a BC program doesn’t have to be complicated. Just follow the three steps: 1. Get educated, 2. Find a program manager, and 3. Get focused. It’s as easy as 1-2-3. Don’t make your business continuity program launch complicated.

By following the three steps, you can get started today on implementing a BC program that will protect your company and its stakeholders from a full range of disasters, whether natural, technological, or manmade.

FURTHER READING

For more on how to launch a business continuity program and other hot topics in business continuity and IT/disaster recovery, check out these recent posts from BCMMETRICS and MHA Consulting:

Herrera MichaelMichael Herrera is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BCMMETRICS and its sister company, MHA Consulting. In his role, Michael provides global leadership to the entire set of industry practices and horizontal capabilities within MHA. Under his leadership, MHA has become a leading provider of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery services to organizations on a global level. He is also the founder of BCMMETRICS, a leading cloud based tool designed to assess business continuity compliance and residual risk. Michael is a well-known and sought after speaker on Business Continuity issues at local and national contingency planner chapter meetings and conferences. Prior to founding MHA, he was a Regional VP for Bank of America, where he was responsible for Business Continuity across the southwest region.