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Struggling to plan?

Rob Prinzo offers five strategic steps which will help business continuity managers become more effective planners.

Business continuity planning can sometimes seem an overwhelming task, especially when budgets are tight and resources are limited. The key to progress is having a planning strategy. But how do you prioritize the list of projects that have accumulated and develop a strategy to move forward in this economic environment?

Developing a strategy does not have to be a major event requiring an off-site retreat, consultants, breakout sessions and flip charts. The following is a simple five step process that can be conducted in one to two hour long sessions:

Step One - Make a list of all your projects, big and small. By developing a comprehensive list, you feel more organized (but perhaps temporarily overwhelmed).

Step Two - Categorize the projects in a spreadsheet using the following criteria:

  • Size (big or small)
  • Function (business process or technology)
  • Type (new project or part of existing operations)
  • Funding Required (yes or no)
  • Level of Effort (high, medium or low)
  • Resources (requires additional resources or can be absorbed by existing staff)
  • Organizational Impact (high, medium or low)

Step Three - Determine which projects rely on the following factors:

  • Other projects
  • Funding
  • Resources
  • Business Decisions

Highlight projects without dependencies and rate the team’s ability to influence the dependencies.

Step Four - Based on the categories and dependencies, prioritize the projects according to the following:

  • Low Hanging Fruit – Small projects with few or no dependencies that have an immediate impact and can be achieved with no additional resources.
  • Intermediate Projects – Small to medium size projects that make a measurable impact with dependencies that can be influenced by team. Consider breaking up long term initiatives into smaller projects or breakout the upfront requirements definition into separate projects.
  • Long Term Initiatives – Medium to large size projects that have a significant impact, but have significant dependencies outside the influence of the projects team. Examples: business process transformation projects, new system implementations or new strategic initiatives.

Step Five - Putting it All Together

Based on your categorized list, start by developing a plan to knock out the low hanging fruit. Hopefully, this will clear your plate of some nagging initiatives and make room for larger projects when funding is available.

If you are unable to secure funding for inevitable long term initiatives this year, try to get a head start by working on the intermediate projects that are considered pre-work for the long term initiatives. This strategy will prepare the organization for the larger projects, reduce the overall project timeframe for the bulk of the work and spread the cost over a longer time period.

If you are ready to move forward on the long term initiatives, make sure that your requirements analysis is complete. Most projects failures are attributed to poor upfront requirements analysis.

In reality you can't escape the inevitable, nor can you ignore the economic environment. However, having a realistic strategy developed through methodical planning will help keep your organization moving forward towards its long-term goals.


Rob Prinzo is founder and CEO of The Prinzo Group, a knowledge firm that provides performance management expertise through project assurance solutions for enterprise transformation and technology projects, as well as performance measurement research, publications, workshops and training. http://www.prinzogroup.com/

•Date: 6th Sept 2011 • Region: World •Type: Article • Topic: BC plan development

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