I’ve often run into people that have to ‘send an email’ with a question for a person that’s located on a few seats away. Are they afraid of that person? Why can’t they just get up and go see them for a couple of minutes to ask what they need to ask? It seems the art of face-to-face communication is disappearing in favor of CYA (Cover You’re A…) and audit concerns. If it’s not written down then it’s can’t be true. What have we done to ourselves?
This happens allot when it comes to developing strategies for Business Continuity Management (BCM) and other contingency related initiatives. We don’t go and ask people, we develop questionnaire’s – sent by snail mail or email – or we purchase an expensive online tool, fill it with questions that get interpreted a myriad of ways and expect recipients to respond in a timely and comprehensive manner. Huh!
Now there’s nothing wrong with questionnaire’s or using online tools but when they become a barrier between yourself – the BCM/DR practitioner – and those that you need to receive input from, then people won’t see BCM as having a human face or even a human perspective. They’ll see it solely as a Technology initiative where there is no concerted effort to bring both sides of the business together. BCM resides outside of the ‘non-IT’ focused areas because the BCM/DR practitioner won’t even meet with people.
You can end up with a plethora of responses to a single question because it’s open to interpretation. If the BCM/DR practitioner meets with the right Subject Matter Experts (SME) face-to-face then you have a better chance of getting the information you need – and maybe more than you thought you needed. Now I don’t mean that you have to meet face-to-face and not use a questionnaire during the session, or even use an online tool; I’m saying you need to use the right combination of tools to get what you need so that everyone has the chance to speak up and ask questions. If there is a question that seems rather obvious to you but no one seems to be answering the way you intended, then don’t you think that meeting with people would help? You don’t even have to go through the questions for responses but you can explain what each section of your Business Impact Analysis (BIA) or Risk Assessment (RA), as examples, means and what you’re looking for. Let people ask questions for clarity purposes and then once everyone is comfortable and a sense of direction has been created, provide access to the online tool or distribute the questionnaire via email.
The point is that face-to-face is still a viable and valuable tool in helping develop contingencies, building teams and creating a sustainable and worthwhile BCM program. Don’t think it isn’t worth it or that the quick fix of an email will get you want you want, because you may have to go back to square one after responses have been received, as the information you received is inconsistent and doesn’t meet your needs. So reach out to the team and put a face on BCM.
© StoneRoad 2016
A.Alex Fullick has over 19 years’ experience working in Business Continuity and is the author of numerous books, including “Watch Your Step”, “BIA: Building the Foundation for a Strong Business Continuity Program.”and “Testing Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans.”