Business Continuity Management Series I

There are spectacular, real life events that will heighten the awareness of an organizations’ resiliency to operate at standard capacity. A retail store, apartment or hospital can be affected to varying degrees ranging from massive, long-term shutdowns due to natural disasters through minor interruptions from isolated property damage. Waiting for the 1000 year flood to begin planning for the rainy day is too late; organizations need to be aware of the impact of their temporary, unplanned CLOSED signage. The professional practice of Business Continuity serves to establish the framework for an organization to identify what might go wrong and how they can turn the lights back on as quickly as possible.

Business Continuity Management (BCM) is defined as the body of knowledge designed to assist the entity in the development and implementation of a BCM program. To increase operational resiliency and lessen the major impact on business operations, a business will utilize the BCM framework with these initial steps:

  • Fully Assess Risks to all major business functions;
  • Put financial data to the threat of those risks through a Business Impact Analysis;
  • Develop strategies to close the gaps.

It is not realistic to have a response to every situation; the secret is to be able to adapt to the situation and leverage the response plans you do have to help adapt to the disaster situation. To create a comprehensive program that is in place for your organization, practitioners follow the Business Continuity Planning as a 10-step process laid out by the Disaster Recovery Institute International.
BCM Programs

STEP ONE – Program Initiation and Management
You may have just been hired as a BCM expert or this process is a newly assigned task added to your daily expectations. Either way, Program Initiation and Management boils down to:

a) Establishing the real need for a BCM program;
b) Garnering Senior Management buy in;
c) And with their help, coordinating and managing the implementation of the BCM program enterprise wide.

These components are vitally important to the success of the BCM program on many levels.

So, why do you need a BCM Program? First off and most importantly, a comprehensive and broadcasted BCM plan can safeguard human life within your business and all locations enterprise wide. You will also minimize confusion and enable effective decisions in a time of crisis, reducing dependency on specific personnel and minimizing the loss of assets, revenue and customers. In addition, you will be ensuring the survival of the organization, satisfying legal or regulatory requirements within many fields, facilitating the timely recovery of critical business functions all while maintaining the public image and reputation of the organization.

How about leadership support? Many employees within your organization are going to need to go above and beyond their daily job responsibilities to pull together all of their business functions related to the assessed risks for their department. This is going to be a substantial workload increase for them and without an organization wide mandate that “This BCM Program is critical to the long term success of our firm”, echoed by senior management, the process will go nowhere. Unequivocal support of senior management is crucial. Along the way, the BCP Coordinator will need to develop a mission statement for the process, create objectives for the program and outline the budget requirements and program structure, policies, and critical success factors. Arming yourself with the proper tools can solidify your position within senior management and help identify an executive sponsor for your program and subsequent steering committee.

And then managing and implementing the program? No one person can do it alone, but the BCM Coordinator will lead the Steering Committee in defining objectives, developing policies, obtaining resources and identifying teams for the BCM implementation and execution. The coordinator is also responsible for developing the required project plans and identifying tasks required to support the agreed upon critical success factors, overseeing the ongoing effectiveness of the program and reporting to senior management on the status on a regular basis.

This high level introduction to Business Continuity Management is intended to serve as a reminder of the importance of pre-planning for natural disasters, isolated losses and unplanned business interruptions. In the following three papers, we will continue to follow the 10-Step Process for a comprehensive BCM program. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.
BluSky is positioned to be a valuable partner within your organization as you plan for the unknown.

Joseph Berg, MBA
Director – National Corporate Accounts
Certified – Associate Business Continuity Professional – DRII
jberg@goBluSky.com