So Mr. or Ms. Business Continuity Planner what’s your New Year’s Resolution for 2010? Here are some suggestions:
- If you haven’t started a plan – develop one! Make sure you familiarize yourself with the industries suggested best practices. It will make your life easier and allow you to build a viable plan that would indeed work should your organization experience a major disruption to its business operations.
- If you have a plan – review it to ensure it is indeed viable.
- Review your risk – Natural, Technological and Human caused events. Knowledge of your local risk is critical – know what could affect your business operations and plan accordingly. Make sure you have planned for the worst case scenario.
- Revisit your business impact analysis. Make sure that nothing has changed in your organization that needs to be addressed from a business continuity perspective. You don’t want to find out at time of event that a new product or service is critical to the organizations survival that is unaccounted for from a resumption or recovery point of view.
- Revisit your recovery solution. Make sure the resources you’ve set aside match the output from your BIA review. Avoid any gap that could delay the resumption or recovery of a critical business function or process. Make sure you have the appropriate “pieces” in place – technology and people resources. Don’t forget to revisit your data backup strategies to ensure they too would support the continuity effort following an event.
- Review your planning documentation. Ensure yourself that the documentation reflects the current organization. Make sure you have addressed the three key elements of business continuity planning – Crisis Management (Response), Business Continuity (Resumption & Recovery) and last but not least Disaster Recovery – the recovery of the IT infrastructure required to support the critical and essential business processes / functions.
- Commit yourself to a defined schedule for maintaining, testing and exercising your plan. Pick some dates and stick to them. Regarding IT testing – remember almost 80% if 1st time technology tests FAIL. Something you need to discover during a test and NOT at time of event.
- Schedule a 3rd party review of your planning process and efforts. A third set of eyes is always better. Have that 3rd party audit and certify the condition of your business continuity plan. Identify the good, the bad and the ugly! Prepare a plan to address the bad and the ugly. Present the findings to your executives and board if necessary.
Whatever your New Year’s Resolution, may 2010 be a productive year for you all. Here’s to hoping you never have to implement your plan, but if you do, here’s to wishing your planning efforts prove to be successful in every way. Happy New Year to you all!
Whether you are starting to develop your business continuity plan or have a mature business continuity plan one thing is certain – in order to facilitate a viable and cost effective business continuity capability you must have an understanding of the business as the executive level envisions it. Without that specific knowledge, the probability of ensuring the preferred recovery from a major business disruption is questionable at best – thus impacting the business even further.
Too often I see that the recovery objectives are based on a functional area manager’s or the planner’s individual perception. Although the manager’s or planner’s perception may be correct, it needs to be verified and blessed at the executive level. Only then can one put together a viable and cost effective solution for ensuring the desired results – the resumption of critical business functions and the recovery of the business over time. Only then can you align the required recovery sequence with the required resources – technology (systems, applications & data) and people (alternate workspace & their other needs).
If your organization is currently experiencing mass change – people, products & services, facilities, and business strategies, you must ensure that your business continuity strategy keeps pace in order to meet the expectations of the business, even when time and personnel resources are limited. One can not overlook the continuous need to maintain a thorough knowledge of the requirements for resuming business operations following a disruptive event. You can ill afford the gap that can be created by a lack of attention to business continuity at time of change. You may find yourself spending too much or not enough in terms of real dollars to protect the business when the time comes. It is imperative that the business continuity plan, and thus the recovery time objectives match the expectations of the business and your clients.