DR & BCM: Decision Analysis and Team Paralysis (Part I)

Another 2 part posting.



I was a recent attendee to a client meeting, which had to deal with a project they were working on (I wasn’t part of it) and something in the meeting struck a chord with me.  It wasn’t the topic – cause it was very boring, let me tell you – but it was the way in which the topic was being managed and discussed.

There was constant back-and-forth on a single item that in my estimation wasn’t a big deal.  It was an easy decision to make and even though I wasn’t really involved in this aspect (or the particular topic) even I could see what the outcome would and should be.
But, it went on and on forever and nothing was moving forward.  For a time the topic was even put into the ‘parking lot’ for further discussion when the rest of the agenda items were determined, including the ones I was part of.

It thought how this same type of ongoing activity delays progress with Business Continuity Plans (BCP), Technology Recovery Plans (TRP), program development and many other facets of Business Continuity Management (BCM).   Like many of you (I’m making a general assumption here), some things get analysed so much that it’s as though the entire program – or whatever
initiative you’re working on – comes to a grinding halt.  Why?

There can be many reasons why decisions or topics get over-analyzed; sometimes to the point of death (or at least it feels like it if you’re an attendee at one of these meeting).  From my own experience, especially this one session, I began to capture some ideas as to why the topic just kept going around in circles.  Many of these items I’ve experienced when developing BCM/DR/ERM plans and programs.  It’s funny how the same things keep cropping up at every corporation, though corporations themselves will state emphatically they are different from everyone else.   Hmmm…makes me wonder.  Anyway, below is a list of the main things that sometimes delay the decisions required for BCM/DR/ERM.  See if you’ve ever experienced some of these (thought you can probably add to the list).

  1. Too Many Decision Makers: If it’s a tough decision, many will want more and more people involved to ensure that the right decision get made to move things forward.   The problem is that everyone has a differing view point for      starters and in fact, not everyone needs to be involved with every decision.  For example, does Human Resources really need to be involved with decisions relating to TRP?  Unless it’s something to do with the HRIS system, they probably don’t need to be involved.  When this occurs there can be too many people involved and the real issues, concerns or ideas aren’t addressed.  Instead, we end up with too many other perspectives involved that aren’t required and can skew the results to suit their own needs and not the actual need of the corporation.
  2. Decision Implications: Many people are too worried about the negative implications of a decision to actually discuss it      rationally.  For example, I’ve had people upset over the decision to have an off site location for their Technology Recovery capabilities.  The reason is that it’s too far away in their opinion; they wanted it close to get too.  Sure, that’s valid but it was the project team complaining about it and how their people would get there.  In fact, the project team was being suspended during a disaster and wasn’t required to send people to the location in the first place (this is a simple example, I know…).  Sometimes the decisions made will have impacts on others and they might not like the ramifications of them, so the decision confirmation is delayed to ensure everyone is happy about it.  Sometimes, this additional time can be costly and delay any program development or plan development.
  3. Responsibility: Have you ever been in a meeting where individuals don’t want to take responsibility for their actions of      the action of their department.   It’s pretty common isn’t it?  The reason is that if they take responsibility and a disaster     occurs, they might be held accountable for a wrong decision being made.  Well, tough.  Decisions must be made – either right or wrong – and the only way those attributed to BCM/DR/ERM can be validated is through a disaster or crisis (of course, if you have a good exercise/test program you might find these gaps sooner and under controlled circumstances).  It can also mean that people could potentially loose their jobs or been shown to be incompetent but I don’t personally think this.  If a decision is made, it’s made with the best intentions and the information that is readily available…it can’t be made and re-made over and over again.   Yes, you do need to review statuses at times but at some point a person must stand up and put a stake in the ground and move forward.  Either way, responsibility is what managers are responsible for…if you get my meaning.
  4. Cost: In today’s world, financial stability – and transparency – is pretty critical for everyone.  When it comes to developing some strategies in BCM, there is a cost involved.  Even if you decide to do some in-house strategy development (i.e. use another corporate facility rather than subscribing to a 3rd party) there are significant costs associated it with.  Costs for the   facility preparation, employees (may include relocation) and the technologies required to set it all up.   Making these decisions can’t be easy because it can take many resources (financial and physical) away from operational activities.  But then again, if the cost isn’t provided to the BCM program (and all the related requirements) then the outcome of the program will match the exact amount of financial resources put into the program.  So if you’ve put little cost into it, then you’re program will provide little in return when a disaster strikes.
  5. Competing Priorities: Who hasn’t been affected by this one?  I bet no one.  There is always a myriad of initiatives going on at any given time.  Many of which will be focusing on operational items or things that will help the revenue stream or  streamline expenses.   Many will be client facing and impacting and these are the ones that will get the most attention because the impact(s) can be realized much quicker than a BCM/DR/ERM program can.  When it comes to individuals, they themselves will focus on items in their performance reviews and the results of projects they are working on that have significant impact on the client retention and satisfaction rates (for example).  When weighed beside a disaster program,      the other projects get more focus and attention and thus, the program and plans required for preparing for, responding to and mitigating a disaster sometimes falls by the wayside and delays occur throughout all stages of development.  Not only that, but often the same people involved with the client/customer impacting projects are the same ones that need to be involved with the BCM/DR/ERM program development and people can’t work on everything at the same time.

Thus ends, part I; Part II in a few days.


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