BCM, DR & ERM: The Hindrance of Multitasking

I’m not a big believer in multi-tasking.  I don’t believe people can do multiple things at once and those that say they can, are fooling themselves.  When someone says they are multitasking, what they are actually doing is spreading their focus and attention over any subjects (or activities) and nothing more than quick starts and stops.  The attention focused on a task is stopped when another task is suddenly required; it’s a complete start and stop action over a predetermined amount of time.

When this happens, some items get lost in the shuffle and the focus of some ideas gets lost as well.  It also ruins continuity  ecause if you’ve got a thought that is really a good one and you’re typing away furiously to get it down, the ringing phone will suddenly interrupt that thought and you’ve lost it while you answer the call.  When you come back to it, it’s just not the same;  you’ve lost that initial spark you had before the phone rang.  That’s what multitasking will do.  Nevertheless, what does this have to do with BCM/DR?

Well, for starters, it’s going to be tough to multitask in BCM or DR, and even ERM for that matter.  You can’t be performing a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) at the same time you’re developing contingency strategies.  You’ll just end up with nothing that correlates correctly and will cause nothing but confusion and frustration later on.

If you want to multitask and believe you can multitask (though it goes against human ability but hey, if you’re Superman…) then don’t stray too far from the current initiative/project.  If you’re performing a BIA then only multitask amongst items that pertain to the BIA; don’t jump to how you’re going to develop you’re exercise/test strategies, as it’s just not going to work.

In BCM, you’re rebuilding the corporation from the foundations upwards (while executive communication goes downward), because you need a solid foundation upon which to build the contingencies and the other related program components.  Multitasking – if not done correctly (if at all) – can cause contradictions between various components and destroy any continuity.  Imagine building a house and stopping and starting on different components; you might end up with walls in the wrong spots and nothing set in place for plumbing and electrical wiring because the continuity of the project was continually interrupted and not properly focused.

Even during a disaster. You can only resolve one thing at a time.  You might have multiple teams working on things but still, it is one team at a time resolving them and even if they are working on multiple issues, they still can only fully investigate and provide the status’ one at a time.  In other words, a team might break itself up and each person is investigating an issue to resolve and it still means that a person is only investigating one item at a time – not multitasking.

You’re not multitasking if you answer the phone while you’re working either. You stop working and then respond to the phone.  If you try to focus on both at the same time, you end up asking for clarity on what was said by the caller because you were busy typing an email, or you end up typing the wrong thing in you email (and hopefully not hitting the ‘send’ button) because you
were more focused on the caller.

When you start a BCM/DR/ERM program, you’ve got to start at the beginning (i.e. Risk Analysis or BIA…for example).  If you’re half way through a RA or BIA and are already speaking with DR vendors about a hot/warm/cold site contract, the information you’re capturing in the RA/BIA may not be accurate.  The reason is that you’re not focusing on the actual responses you’re getting; instead you’re already looking ahead.  This takes your focus away from where it should be; ensuring that the responses to the surveys are accurate and being interpreted correctly.  If they aren’t, you may find that you don’t really need an offsite location – yet.

Loosing focus can cost money and that happens when people jump from task to task without ever getting something  completed.  To paraphrase an old saying, “jack of all trades, master of none.“  This is a fault of many corporations and BCM/DR/ERM professionals and practitioners.  They lose their focus and jump all over the place in their planning, allowing themselves to be continuously interrupted.

You’ve got to focus on each component carefully and know what it is you need from it.  Don’t let yourself get distracted and try to do other things that aren’t required at the time.  Can you imagine what will happen if not enough focus is given to the BIA?  You’d end up with department/IT contingency strategies not meeting the needs of the corporation, simply because the BIA didn’t get the focus it needed.  The answers to all the questions asked about BCM/DR/ERM are in the details, and if the details are given the right amount of attention – because you’re too busy letting yourself be interrupted or switching between priorities – you’re bound to have major issues down the road.   You’ll find out how well multitasking works when you have a test/exercise and find that not everything can receive the same amount of focus at the same time; we’re only human after all.


in the Sand: What Stops Corporations From Seeing Business Continuity as a
Social Responsibility
” and “Made
Again Volume 1 – Practical Advice for Business Continuity Programs”

by StoneRoad founder, A.Alex
Fullick, MBCI, CBCP, CBRA,

at www.stone-road.com, www.amazon.com & www.volumesdirect.com

One thought on “BCM, DR & ERM: The Hindrance of Multitasking

  1. Pingback: BCM, DR & ERM: The Hindrance of Multitasking | InternetRSSFeeds

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