No one enjoys wasting resources in any form – effort, time, or money. However, organizations that implement business continuity planning in a haphazard attempt to meet a customer requirement, pass an audit, or simply don’t take the time up front to ensure that the proper resources and approach are in place, are setting themselves up to do just that.
This article explores the common business continuity-related mistakes and pitfalls that lead to wasting time, money, and effort, and provides solutions focused on performing business continuity planning as an integrated aspect of your organization that will mature and improve risk mitigation and response/recoverability efforts, as well as deliver long-term value.
What Is Business Continuity Planning and Why Does It Matter?
A business continuity program (or management system) focuses on designing, implementing, and maintaining strategies that minimize the likelihood of a disruptive incident affecting the organization, and enables an efficient response and recovery of all affected resources in order to minimize the duration and impact if a disruptive incident does occur.
To learn more about business continuity, check out the BCM 101 section on our website where you can freely access a wide variety of short videos that provide an overview of business continuity planning concepts and processes and answer the most common questions we receive.
Business Continuity Planning – A Guide to Success
Successfully performing business continuity planning takes time, effort, monetary investment, and an understanding of business continuity planning techniques.
So, how do you optimize the business continuity planning process?
This article identifies three common resource-wasting mistakes to avoid when implementing a business continuity program or performing business continuity planning activities, as well as value drivers to improve preparedness and receive the biggest “bang for your buck”.
Mistake #1 – Lack of Executive Leadership and Buy-In
One of the largest, and most costly, mistakes an organization can make is to attempt business continuity planning without executive engagement support upfront. A lack of organizational vision and authority to steer business continuity planning efforts, as well as to define requirements and approve outcomes, results in an inability to align the preparedness effort to the organization’s strategic objectives. Further, a lack of executive management involvement often results in an inability to secure the necessary resources (people, time, money) and drive change that will bring value to the organization long-term. Without leadership involvement, business continuity planning objectives and requirements will often fail to align with organizational strategy, increasing the risk that limited business continuity planning resources are applied to the wrong issues. This lack of executive involvement often results in planning efforts that fail to align to an appropriate scope, address the most critical preparedness objectives, or simply bring value to the organization and its key stakeholders.
Value Driver #1 – Active Steering Committee
Effective business continuity planning initiatives include executive management involvement, which often takes the form of a steering committee made up of executives representing the products and services, or the organizational entities, within the scope of the business continuity program. This steering committee should be actively engaged, providing the decision making power and resources necessary to choose, implement, and maintain business continuity strategies. This steering committee should help ensure business continuity planning activities are unified with the direction of the organization and that resources align with the organization’s goals or strategies.
Active executive involvement is the first step towards a culture of business continuity engrained into business activities and decision making, as modeled from the top down, resulting in strategic business decisions made in cohesion with the business continuity planning efforts. For more information on how to establish a business continuity culture within your organization, read: A Culture of [Business] Continuity – Part 2.
Mistake #2 – Template Planning
Another costly mistake we often see is template planning, where a blanket “best practice” template is used to develop every plan. If you just check off the boxes of what a good business continuity program should include, without tailoring it to your organization and unique needs or even testing to see if it works, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Applying business continuity methodology and best practices provides a framework to approach the planning effort, but in order to deliver outcomes that truly bring value in an efficient manner, a deep understanding of your organization’s purpose, products/services, customers, and resources is required. Templates or best practice recovery plans are meant to help you get started, but can only take you so far!
Value Driver #2 – Uniquely Molded Business Continuity Planning
To ensure effective and efficient business continuity planning, take the time to truly understand the organization – not only the critical products and services, but also the way in which the organization works to deliver these products and services to its customers. Use this understanding to scope planning efforts appropriately and provide a requirements analysis to identify business continuity strategies that make sense based on your organization’s resource dependencies, including facilities, personnel, equipment, customers, suppliers, and technology. Implement these strategies and document plans to ensure your organization’s critical products and services can recover quickly following a disruptive incident. Finally, strengthen the business continuity planning efforts by integrating preparedness activities and strategies with the other parts of your organization, such as risk management and change management.
For a crash course in different types of recovery plans and what they should entail, see Avalution’s Perspective: Business Continuity Plans 101.
Mistake #3 – “One and Done”
Set it and forget it doesn’t apply to business continuity. Using resources to implement quality business continuity planning initiatives but not continually managing, testing, and improving these initiatives, quickly leads to an inability to mitigate risk and respond and recover appropriately. By not implementing and executing a recurring business continuity planning lifecycle, strategies can become outdated or fail to align with business needs. If an organization fails to continually review and evaluate requirements, risks, strategies, and plans, it is likely that the initial investment will be lost due to constant change.
Value Driver #3 – Lifecycle
Avalution believes business continuity planning should be a part of an overall business continuity program that adheres to the principles of a management system – meaning a program that requires business continuity planning to not only be established or implemented, but also one focused on continual improvement, performance evaluation, and management review to ensure alignment with stakeholder expectations. A recurring lifecycle paired with planned management reviews allows the executive steering committee to evaluate metrics and assign corrective actions to continually grow and mature the business continuity program, resulting in more effective strategies to improve the organization’s risk mitigation and recovery efforts.
To learn more about this concept, watch: What is a business continuity management system?
When developing or improving a business continuity program, or performing business continuity planning activities, take the time to understand your organization and what will bring your organization the most value. Save resources by eliminating from scope those organizational elements and resources that are neither critical nor contribute to the delivery of your organization’s most essential products and services. And, lastly, assign responsibility, manage the planning effort, and ensure continual improvement of your planning approach and outcomes by implementing a business continuity program that adheres to the principles of a management system.
Avalution believes if you avoid the resource-wasting mistakes and apply the key value drivers discussed in this article, your organization will drive efficiency during the implementation of the business continuity planning process and deliver risk mitigation, response, and recovery outcomes that support the strategic objectives of the organization.
Business continuity and IT disaster recovery planning is all that we do. If you’re looking for help with building or improving your business continuity program, we can help.
Please contact us today to get started. We look forward to hearing from you!
- Why Plan? A Closer Look at Business Continuity
- What does Effective BCM look like?
- Challenges in Implementing a Successful Business Continuity Program