BC & DR Plans: Don’t Worry About the Fluff

So when was the last time you found what you wanted in a document without having to dig through pages and pages of information? Do you find that so much of what is in the document doesn’t really need to be there? Is it irrelevant? Is it fluff material just so the volume of the document looks good? In many cases it turns out the document is basically built on the foundation of quantity over quality. That means most of the document – the stuff yo don’t need – is just fluff. Are your Business Continuity Plans (BCP) like that? I beat they are.

From document to document, there is repeated information that also has its own document to strat with. As an example, I recently came across a set of BCP plans with a client that held allot of the same Emergency Response information contained within the Emergency Response Plan itself. Why? It was fluff to the BCP – which was labeled a Business Recovery Plan (BRP) – and repeated information from other areas too. What’s the point?

When you really looked at the document, it contained very little information relevant to the department on what contingency strategies they’d implement when a disaster struck – though it did say what IT would do, which was already in the IT DRP. It seemed the document was completely built on volume and quantity rather than quality…and usable information.

Any plan that’s written has to be actionable and usable by someone – anyone – who has to implement its content. Being usable in the way that holds up a corner of desk is not a workable and usable plan…no matter how ‘useful’ it may seem holding up that desk.

Why not remove all that fluff and put it in an over-arching document – a program level document – where lots of information usually ends up staying static and can be read and maintained if and when needed (usually during audits). This will leave the actual plans focused solely on actionable contingencies and action items, rather than fluff.

So check out your plans; are they large and talk allot about how they were built or are they more streamlined and focus solely on actionable items? Do they get right to the heart of the matter or do they go on and on for pages about, well, nothing. Does it take you until page 30 before you actually get to something you can use and if so, guess what? You’ve got fluff!

As a personal rule, I tend to make sure that by page five (5) – or less – the BCP or Crisis Management Plan or IT DRP plan – start providing action-oriented information; stuff users can actually follow, implement or action.

So don’t worry about the fluff; there’s a place for it but its not in the actual actionable plans. It’s place is off to the side for audit and compliance purposes.

© StoneRoad 2015 A.Alex Fullick has over 18 years’ experience working in Business Continuity and is the author of numerous books, including “Heads in the Sand” and “BIA: Building the Foundation for a Strong Business Continuity Program.”

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