When the writing’s on the wall…

Get free weekly news by e-mailBy John Glenn, MBCI, Certified Business Continuity Planner.

Over the years I have learned that there are indicators that a business continuity plan is doomed before it is even written. The following short article highlights a couple of these...

If the business continuity plan's sponsor is less than a C*O-level player – an 800 pound gorilla on the organizational chart - pass on the project.

Business continuity requires substantial input from an organization's subject matter experts (SMEs). These people already have their ‘regular’ jobs and usually a little extra; their days are pretty full already. While individuals may be willing, even enthusiastic, to participate, unless their managers are sympathetic they won't be able to provide give the planner the time needed to develop a plan.

While business continuity planning is a bottom up process, it must have top down support. Support must be highly visible and the flag-waving must be ongoing.

The ideal sponsor candidates are CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and Presidents.

CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and Presidents all are concerned with the bottom line, especially if their compensation is linked to that bottom line. Other ‘C’s head up functional units - production, IT, facilities, etc.

The problem with having the CIO/Information Technology VP as the sponsor is that in most businesses, information technology is often viewed as Big Brother telling profit centers what IT services the profit center needs to do its work. There is a lack of trust; the suspicion is that IT is looking out only for its own interests.

That's not to say that ALL IT executives are locked into an ‘IT first, last, always’ mentality. I actually know two who understand enterprise business continuity! Trouble is, I know many more who don't...

While your mileage may vary, a ‘typical’ business continuity planning project for a medium size organization with one location takes about six months from crafting the Statement of Work (SOW) and project plan to presentation of the final deliverable. Sometimes less, sometimes more. Training is extra and never-ending.

If the prospective client wants project completion within 90 days or less, run away.

While a business continuity plan might be cobbled together in 90 days, there is no breathing room; no time to go back to the subject matter experts who provide the information for the plan. No time for SMEs to go on vacation, get sick, or take a mandated holiday. There is little time to discover and evaluate all the realistic avoidance and mitigation options.

Often what happens with instant plans is that once the planner's recommendations are presented (first deliverable) and the ball is tossed into management's court, enthusiasm for the project, like a yard without sufficient water, withers and dies. Management never finds the time to review the recommendations, to determine what to implement and when.

Just guessing, I suspect between 25 percent and 50 percent of all business continuity projects never get past the first deliverable.

John Glenn, MBCI, has been helping organizations of all types avoid or mitigate risks to their operations since 1994. Comments about this article may be sent to JohnGlennCRP@yahoo.com

(c) 2006, John Glenn, MBCI

Date: 30th June 2006 • Region: US/World Type: Article •Topic: BC general
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