Whether you experience good times or bad times, everything is an opportunity to learn and grow. Too often we seem to wear blinders and trudge full speed ahead hoping we reach our final goal, which if all goes according to plan – and it rarely does – we achieve our aspirations. But when we get to the destination we often forget what we might have learned along the way, or worse, paid no heed to anything as we moved forward and thus, don’t end up learning anything from our experience. Learning from our experiences and becoming more aware of what we’re doing happens as we’re actively working on activities, not when we’ve completed them. That’s not to say you don’t look back and see how far you’ve come – you also need to know how you got there. This happens allot with Business Continuity Management (BCM) / Disaster Recovery (DR) programs; training and awareness is usually moved to the end of the program or when there’s allot of plans, processes, protocols and procedures in place when awareness itself must begin at the beginning – followed by training opportunities.
If you’ve been tasked to build a BCM/DR program, then you’re usually dealing with Senior Management from the outset and in many cases these Senior Management representatives don’t know the full scale or scope of a BCM/DR program. As the BCM practitioner and professional, it’s your role – your job – to begin educating these individuals; increase their awareness and explain what a BCM program actually contains and how you achieve their directive of having a BCM/DR program in place. It might not mean booking a few hours and going through a training session with them but it will entail providing a roadmap of what needs to happen, who you need to help you get there and what the deliverables will be along the way (and how they are interdependencies between the various deliverables). That’s part of the executive ‘buy-in’ that many speak of and it begins at the outset.
BCM/DR awareness and training doesn’t always mean the same level of awareness or training for all company individuals – though if budgets are ‘free-flowing’ then go for it; however, the level of training and awareness needed by the Crisis Management Team (CMT) leaders is going to be higher than a data entry clerk who will be staying at home during a disaster until they are required. That data entry clerk may only need a small level of awareness but the CMT leader will need to be much more involved and have a greater understanding of what the program needs, offers and how it operates when called upon to lead the company through a crisis or disaster.
Don’t leave the awareness and training until the end of the program when there is a feeling that all the deliverables have been provided and implemented. Continue to bring people on board and ask for input on all the components being developed – get their buy-in. When people feel part of the process and contribute to it they tend to feel as though they are a part of the BCM/DR program and will have a better understanding of how it works and its expectations. That means when test and/or exercises are scheduled, they are already versed on many of the aspects that will take place during the test because they helped develop them. Not bringing in Subject Matter Experts (SME) until the end can leave them bewildered and let down because as the SME for their area, you left them out of the creation of their specific role, responsibility and/or procedure. Which they are then expected to ensure works when needed. Why not bring them on board early – make them a contributor. Start with some small awareness initiatives and then when the program and deliverables become mature – with their input – they can participate in tests, which gives them training opportunities (and increases additional awareness).
Don’t leave Awareness and Training to the end of the program, make it a continuous opportunity throughout the development lifecycle and part of the ongoing maintenance of the program. You can only increase your level of success but if you leave it until the end, you may find you missed out on the chance to make your program and program team members (e.g. Crisis Team members, BCP plan owners etc.) better at they do — making you look great!!
© 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.”