When I sat down in front of the laptop tonight I had a scripted note I was going to copy into this site – for my first blog entry ever. Then I had an experience earlier today and decided to change my entire entry and rewrite the whole thing. As many of us know in the Business Continuity Management (BCM) realm, we need to ensure a comprehensive set of initial start rules and factors that will attribute to a successful BCM program. Heck, even if you’re a certified project manager you understand the important of proper planning and communications. Well, I listened to a manager complain today about why something they’d been trying to be implemented wasn’t working. Why doesn’t staff understand? Why don’t IT people do what I tell them? I chuckled to myself knowing all the pitfalls this person has probably encountered but decided not to do anything about.
As I listened to him complain to another manager, who I could tell didn’t fully understand what the this guys initiative was about, I realized that some of the same things occur to us in the BCM world. Simply put, we don’t get proper buy in and commitment from our senior management, which ultimately ends up ignored and misunderstood by employees; the ones who need to know what to do.
What he failed to do was properly plan for his project. As a manager, or really as anyone with a great idea wishing to be implemented, simply documenting a new process and procedure and make some impressive spreadsheets/documents and then begin distributing them stating ‘this is what you’re going to do now’ just won’t work. BAM!! All that work goes nowhere. No one understands where the idea comes from, what it’s about, why it’s needed, why it’s changing their existing process nor did they understand any of the benefits this new process would make. However, some of the ideas I overheard him comment on were quite sound and solid. Does it sound familiar? Does that ever happen to you when trying to implement a good BCM program?
If you’re like many managers, and I include senior level managers and executives here, they simply play “hopscotch” with the BCM program. They just jump all over the place placing band-aid solutions on everything and continue marching on; continuing to believe they’re on the right path for creating a fantastic BCM program. What a load of ^%$#! Even if an organization experiences and outage or emergency, you don’t just fix that one problem. A good organization will review root causes of the issue – like the lack of a BCM program – and decide to put a proper practice in place. This means communicating the need for a program and backing it up with appropriate levels of commitment and resources to make it work for the organization.
For example, if a company experiences an issue that brings down a specific service component (i.e.. a server) and after getting the service operational again they run out and buy equipment as a backup, or better yet they purchase a ‘contingency’ server for this one particular component. That’s a reactive approach don’t you think? In addition, the server is not considered a mission critical component.
Because there’s no BCM program, which would mean no performed Business Impact Analysis (BIA). There’s no proof that that particular piece of equipment is even required in a severe disaster. With a well-planned BCM program and well-executed BIA, they can identify what services are critical to the organization and match that up with IT components required to support mission critical services. So, if the company experiences a severe disaster they know exactly what equipment is required first and foremost. In the example, the company hadn’t performed a BIA and when they experience a real disaster situation, they’d have a contingency server all set and ready to go for a service not considered mission critical by the business. If they’d done a BIA and planned it from the beginning, they’d know what’s needed. So is the rush to push things into the organizations culture worth it?
Back to the manager who was complaining. He hadn’t planned particularly well, with what the new initiative was supposed to do. He didn’t have any senior management backing or support from what he was saying and my guess is they didn’t even know about it to start with, so why would they support it in the first place? No matter what we do in BCM, we need to ensure we have proper backing and planning to support it. When you do a BIA you can’t just say ‘it will give me ‘x’ and ‘y’ so I that I can eventually do ‘z”. No, it’s not that simple. You need to plan it so that everyone understands what goes into it and what the organization (and themselves) will eventually get out of it. Don’t just jump all over the place; ‘hop-scotch’ is a game but BCM isn’t. Let everyone know how well a BCM program will benefit the organization (I’ll have more comments on some of this in future blog entries, so stay tuned). A well thought out and planned BCM program will help the entire organization and unbelievably, reduce your workload as you progress through it. You’ll have less resistance and less hassle as you move from Initiation to BIA to Emergency Response to Contingency Development. People will understand what you’re doing and why, if you communicate it and plan it effectively. Do keep in mind though that when you communicate you’re going to have various levels and methods. Standing in front of Senior Management and standing in front of employees are two completely different audiences and both have their own expectations when they show up to hear you speak. Be prepared. Don’t just think by sending an email everyone (regardless of level) will understand what you’re saying. That’s rarely the case.
Plan it all…from start to finish. Include a review process and audit process so once you think you’ve got to the end of BCM implementation (all the best practice categories) you’re really only beginning the real ongoing work.