Preparing for the Unexpected (July 16/20): COVID-19 and Business Continuity Management

The global Business Continuity Management (BCM) landscape is changing; from supply chain management to disaster response to the effects and impacts of the Covid-19 global pandemic. We talk to internationally recognized BCM industry leader and expert, Patrick (Pat) Corcoran from IBM. Continue reading

New Business Functions: The BCM Professional and the Project Manager

I recently read an article where individuals were asked what the role of the Business Continuity Management (BCM) should be when a new business function will be introduced. There were comments from ensuring Change Management is introduced to the BCM professional needs to perform a Risk Assessment (RA), Business Impact Analysis (BIA) to developing continuity plans and implementation and rollback plans. Now, all that is good BUT, I found it odd that not a single respondent gave the most obvious answer – and it has nothing to do with the BCM professional.

If the organization has determined to introduce – or develop – a new business process (and related technology functionality), the responsibility to ensure all of the things I noted above are completed belongs to the Project Management Office (PMO) and the assigned Project Manager (PM). It’s not the responsibility of the BCM professional to ensure all that is completed.

Now, I’ve always said that BCM professionals need to have a project management experience, or at least have some basic knowledge of project management (as outlined by the Project Management Institute – PMI) but they don’t suddenly become the driver of the bus for all projects.

BCM gets involved at the time the PM – and the schedule – says it’s logical to get involved and execute the appropriate project deliverables, which when completed accordingly, help mitigate risks and/or update the appropriate risk plans, contingency plans (it may be a new plan if the new process creates new departments etc) and technology recovery plans.

With allot of PM experience behind me, I know that every single PMO office I’ve ever worked for – as a PM, Control Officer or Program Officer – there are some basic deliverables that are performed through project management. That includes completing some sort of Risk Profile and Business Impact Assessment, which the BCM professional may be brought in to assist with completion and in most cases, it’s not their responsibility to determine how this is managed. The PM will take the appropriate completed documents and provide to the project stakeholders for approval or additional input/amendments. Then, it may be provided to the BCM professional to action accordingly (e.g. update contingency plans, technology plans etc.). The BCM professional isn’t the one that makes the final determinations during project flight; that’s the responsibility of the PM.

The BCM professional has to make sure that when that inflight project becomes Business As Usual (BAU), all the appropriate activities are completed and ready to accept the new function (project deliverable).

That means that the implementation plans (business and technology) and rollback plans are developed by the appropriate project team workstream lead but is not developed by BCM. There are already people within a PMO office responsible for those activities.

On another note, the Crisis Management Team (CMT) may not even ben involved during project implementations, even when there’s an issue with implementation and roll back occurs.  If it doesn’t impact operations then it’s the project’s Command Team that takes control, though some of those individuals on the CMT may be part of the project team based on their daily roles and responsibilities.

Implementation communications are usually managed by the Business Operations team whose job it is to manage communications with clients and customers (the name of the department may change from company to company).  Still, they aren’t done or managed by BCM, they are done by the Project Team.

The PM is responsible to make sure that all of these activities are completed properly and to the standards required by the organization’s PMO and documents the handoff to the business owner, which would include ensuring that BCM/BCP/DR has been involved and are ready to accept the new process (if they haven’t been already).

I found it odd that not one responded to the question in the article mentioned Project Management, which is a discipline on its own with various skill sets. Good PMOs and good PM’s will bring in the BCM group when it’s acceptable to do so to ensure that the moment the new process (and related technical functionality) goes live, it’s in a good position to respond to a disaster situation. This might even include a dry ‘test’ or ‘DR simulation’ prior to going live or very shortly after going live. I’ve been in organizations that say a full DR of a new function/technical configuration, must be tested within 60 days of going live – or sooner.

The BCM role isn’t the same as a Project Manager’s role, but the BCM professional must understand Project Management to ensure a smooth transition from idea to implementation to a ‘live’ state.

© StoneRoad 2020

A.Alex Fullick has over 21 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

COVID-19: We’re on the Cusp of BIG Changes!

Well, if you haven’t seen or heard anything related to the Covid-19 disease, you’ve either been living in a cave or on the moon. It’s everywhere. It’s touching every aspect of our lives. It’s changing every aspect of our life and it’s going to change the world going forward. I know that might sound a bit ominous but 1 event can change the world. Continue reading

Preparing for the Unexpected (Apr 2/20): RESILIENCE with Best-Selling Authors Jennifer Eggers and Cynthia Barlow

When a disaster or crisis strikes, the wish of many organizations is to bounce back from the situation. However, Resilience is not about bouncing back, it’s so much more. We talk with best selling authors Jennifer Eggers & Cynthia Barlow and their international best selling book “Resilience – It’s Not About Bouncing Back”. Cynthia and Jennifer will talk to us about where our resilience comes from and how we can make ourselves and organizations, resilient. Jennifer and Cynthia will also give us insight on where resilience comes from; it’s not what you might think. A truly enlightening episode on Resiliency not to be missed.

https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/122108/resilience-its-not-about-bouncing-back

Enjoy!

The StoneRoad Team

 

Preparing for the Unexpected (Apr 30/20): The Business Analyst – How They Help BCM and DR

No Business Continuity Management (BCM) professional can know everything about business operations, as there’s just so much to know. However, a BCM professional can learn allot about an organizations operations by speaking with a Business Analyst (BA), whether they be Business or Technical in focus. We speak with experienced BA expert Bill Baxter who will speak to us about the roll of the BA and what we can learn from them to help us understand business – and technical – operations. When building our continuity plans we need the input of skilled and knowledgeable resources to make our plans strong, viable and usable, and the Business Analyst is one of the key roles to help get the right plans in place.

https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/121363/encore-the-business-analyst-and-how-they-help-bcm-and-dr

Enjoy!

The StoneRoad Team

Covid-19: Did We Learn From SARS?

Well, the Coronavirus has a formal name – Covid-19. Not original by a long shot and even political thoughts went into creating its name (didn’t want to have any regional implications).  Still, we now know what to call it.  The name might be different but it seems our responses should be roughly the same as they were when SARS hit Continue reading

BCM: Track Your Incidents for Program Maintenance!

When we think of crises or disasters, we seem to immediately go to the big ticket situations; fires, hurricane’s, floods and pandemics. We tend not to think of the smaller mundane crises Continue reading

BCM / DR Programs: Why Do We Think A Program Will Maintain Itself?

Hello,

Happy New Year to one and all!  2020 is shaping up to be quite the year for me and I hope it is for you too.

I first have to apologize for not having been more diligent in writing and promoting my show on the VoiceAmerica Radio Network (‘Preparing for the Unexpected’), as I’ve just been so busy.  But I decided I should get back to writing and posting here, even if it’s something short. So without further adieu, my first blog of 2020.

Alex

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Lately, I’ve noticed that some of the talk about BCM / DR programs and their maintenance don’t seem to align. There is so much talk about ensuring programs are developed and that plans are in place and then validated through exercising/testing but then that only gets followed up with the comment; ‘These should be maintained’.  And that’s it.  I’ve noticed it in articles, blogs and when speaking to people.  It’s as though there is something wrong with talking about how to maintain a program or there’s a lack of experience with developing the maintenance processes.

I’m not sure why the talk on this subject something trails off into other topics or why it tends to often be quickly references and then the topic moves in another direction. Are we not familiar with how this is supposed to be accomplished? Let’s face it, there is so much discussion about building programs and exercising plans and processes that maintaining it after the fact seems to fade away.

There might a couple of reasons for why the topic tends to fade away and only come back into the conversation after a disaster/crisis/operational interruption occurs.

  1. Quite often, contractors and consultants are hired to build programs – especially the RA, BIA, BCP development, tests etc., and when those are complete, they leave because the engagement is completed.
  2. When the high-priced consultants and contractors are gone, Executives begin to loose interest because the regular requests for support and status updates slow down or stop all together.
  3. When the contractors/consultants leave, the program is handed off to someone who doesn’t have the full breadth and knowledge of the program and are only assigned to it for 50% of their time.  So it doesn’t get the focus it needs. So they don’t end up providing the updates required for Executives (#2 above) , which causes Exec’s to loose interest and it drops off their radar.

There’s lots of focus on the creation and validation of BCM/DR/Resilience programs but I think some more attention, research and methods to keep programs updated and maintained, needs to be done.

 

© StoneRoad 2020

A.Alex Fullick has over 21 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

 

Perparing for the Unexpected (2019-10-31): Mastering BCM w/ Dr. Michael Redmond

Join us on October 31/19, as we talk with author and internationally recognized Business Continuity Management expert Dr. Michael C Redmond.  It’s sure to be an eye-opener and we also talk about her thoughts on the Adaptive BCP movement.

https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/117011/mastering-business-continuity-management

Enjoy!

The StoneRoad Team

BCM / DR / BCP Programs: Is Our Industry Due for a Change?

There’s an old saying that says “change it the only constant” and that’s true for almost everything in the world.  Our communities change, the kind of car we drive changes, our homes change, our families change, the technology we use changes, our music tastes change (though we do prefer some kind of music over others), so why is it there is so much push back when there is a recommendation – or even just the spark of an idea – to change our Business Continuity/Resiliency Management industry?

In recent years there has been the question about changing the way specific components of a BCM program are managed, in fact, there’s even the suggestion to stop performing the way specific components of a BCM program altogether.  In some circles, this seems to have sparked a firestorm of controversy with some jumping for joy that the scent of a change is in the air, while other BCM professionals and practitioners vehemently promote the same-old same-old way of doing things.  Of course, I’m talking about the Adaptive BCP movement that calls for the removal of the Risks Assessment/Analysis (RA) and Business Impact Analysis (BIA) from the overall BCM core competencies. I’m not going to go into Mark and David’s overall mandate, as that’s for them to discuss in detail, but I do think they raise a great point; the point that it’s time for a change.

Many of us have worked for organizations and clients that have various methods of building, implementing and validating Business Continuity and Technology Recovery Plans, so it’s only natural for those changes – and the reasons for them – to be promoted.  When our day-to-day processes don’t align with the supposed frameworks communicated by various BCM and DR governing bodies, then the reality is that there is a need to consider change.  From a personal perspective, I’ve been to many client sites that want a specific delivery within a specific timeframe – that’s reality – so I have to adapt what the client wants with the way I know how things should be done.  It’s just a fact, that we have to adapt ourselves and our BCM/DR processes to changing expectations of clients, communities and organizations.  Sometimes, that means not performing a specific program component in the same way a governing body would expect.  Sometimes, an organization, community or individual already know the risk or the potential impacts and has asked us – the BCM/DR professional or practitioner – to take the next step of developing contingencies. 

That’s the reality, folks!  It DOES happen and programs and program deliverables are still created to the satisfaction and expectations of company executives. So why continue to deny that it doesn’t occur or that by removing a step – or changing the say a BCM program component is done – does not or should not occur?  Change is inevitable. If the Project Management Institute (PMI) can develop the Agile Project Management methodology, then why can’t our current governing bodies accept new ways of performing BCM program components.

Change can be difficult and make us feel as though we aren’t doing what we should, but as long as we get to the expected end-of-the-road deliverable, should it really matter what path we take to get there?  Especially if we understand the risks of doing things differently and we document and/or communicate that risk then we as practitioners and professionals should walk the path best suited to the situation and expectation at hand.  

I think the shake-up and change in attitudes and ideas is good for our industry.  It might make some feel uncomfortable but that’s good – it means we are hitting the right notes because it’s getting attention.  If we stay stagnant then we’ll eventually lose our edge and value, as we’ll be seen as inflexible dinosaurs – and you know what happened to them.  Change in inevitable because it’s already happening.