Every major initiative – or project – within an organization has a sponsor; someone that champions the project and supports everyone involved. Ultimately, they are the one paying for the project; resources, employees, technology equipment, contractor/consultants and anything else required to make the project execute to a successful implementation and conclusion; a Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery test is no different.
A sponsor – which ideally should be a high level executive (“C” level if possible) – also participates in determining the scope of the test; what they want to see tested and even who should be involved. It’s up to the test coordinator (or Project Manager) to organize the information and determine what can be tested and if there any components of the what the sponsor wants that can’t be tested. It doesn’t mean the sponsor is in charge of the planning, that is left to the designated test coordinator, though the sponsor is the designated individual at the executive level responsibility of the test.
Not obtaining Executive support can cause many problems for the test coordinator, test participants and the overall test itself. Without Executive support, the following can occur;
1. No financial support (for accommodations, overtime pay, contract amendments if there are requirements for a 3rd party vendor, travel expenses, technical and non-technical resources etc);
2. Teams can (and will) back out of the test for other priorities especially those that have executive support;
3. Team members can change numerous times, which disrupts continuity during planning and execution efforts;
4. Issues and risk may not be resolved or mitigated respectively;
5. Scope creep has a greater chance of take root;
6. Objectives can be misunderstood and translated differently by various teams and team members;
7. Timelines and deliverables may not be adhered to;
8. The test can be cancelled without any notice in lieu of other initiatives;
9. No recognition for all the hard work put in by testing participants through all stages of the test;
10. Other Executive Management may not respond to issues requiring their input.
A sponsor also adds value to a test – and so much more – and to other BCM / DR program. Here are the things that a sponsor does offer:
1. Provides financial support;
2. Determines the scope of the test;
3. Designates the test coordinator to carry out the sponsor’s directives (this means they give them authority);
4. Assists and determines goals and objectives;
5. Provide approval of any deviations from approved scope via Project Change Requests (PCR);
6. Provides a voice for Business Continuity Management at the Executive boardroom table;
7. Resolves conflicts when it cannot be managed at the test coordinator level; and
8. Provides moral support and guidance to the test coordinator and other test team members.
Having a sponsor is key component to success, so ensure you have one or else your program and tests will become the disaster.
(c) StoneRoad 2013