I’ve noticed recently that many individuals working on various projects and programs, including Disaster Planning and Business Continuity, seem afraid to actually communicate some of the difficulties they’re encountering. With most projects and programs, executives and sponsor expect to receive a regular update on the efforts and whether there are any major issues they need to be aware of. In the majority of cases projects are reported on as either being;
1. GREEN – all is well and tracking to schedule, scope and budget;
2. AMBER (Yellow) – some minor hiccups and need to deal with some smaller issues or risks, which may need some participation by the sponsor to ensure scope, budget and schedule get back on track; and,
3. RED – all heck’s has broken loose and we’ve got a major problem.
People seem to be fine with reporting Green and Amber but when it comes to Red, well, we shy away from it. Don’t worry about it. Having your program or project go red doesn’t automatically mean that you – the BCM/DR practitioner or project manager, has done something wrong. There could have been an unknown instance occur that impacted your plans and thus derailed what you’re doing. When something occurs many tend to report they are amber because they are afraid that if they report a red status, executives and sponsor will point the finger at them and ‘freak out’ because things aren’t in perfect working order. Well, when is everything in perfect working order? Never.
When something major does occur to impact your BCM/DR project, it’s good to let executives know the issues that have occurred and why things aren’t as rosy as they were the week or month prior. They won’t be blaming you for it but want to know what caused the interruption and what plan you have to resolve the issue. This might mean that they have to make a decision or make a change to a strategy – like the external vendor isn’t the right one or the alternate site can’t accommodate what you need. Either way, it involved them in the issue resolution process, keeps them informed and because of your strength in showing your project status as red, that they – the executives – aren’t being lied to or receiving false information for fear of reprisals.
Don’t be afraid to ‘tell it like it is’. It’ll benefit you in the future – and the present moment, than if you try to downplay the situation and state that you have everything under control. No one ever does, so don’t try and hide behind a wall; get to the point and come prepared. Let them know the resolution plan and what help you need from them to resolve it.
© StoneRoad 2015
A.Alex Fullick has over 19 years’ experience working in Business Continuity and is the author of numerous books, including “Heads in the Sand”, “BIA: Building the Foundation for a Strong Business Continuity Program” and “Testing Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans.”