Business Continuity: The Importance of Thinking Both Strategically and Tactically

thinking-both-strategically-and-tacticallyAs I reflect on my first year as a business continuity professional, I contemplate what has made me successful to date. In my previous role of being an officer in the U.S. Army, I lived and breathed risk assessments and contingency planning (addressing a loss of resources). When I first started in the military, my focus was very tactical, ensuring that there was always a plan to replenish our basic supplies (e.g., bullets, food, gas, and water). These plans were very basic and more reactionary than anything else, but I always knew that as long as I had these resources, I could continue the mission. Continue reading

Business Continuity Implementation: An Overview of BCI Professional Practice 5

BCI_GPGs_SeriesThis perspective provides an overview of the Business Continuity Institute’s Professional Practice 5 (PP5) – Implementation, which is the professional practice that “executes the agreed strategies and tactics through the process of developing the Business Continuity Plan (BCP)”. As part of the business continuity planning lifecycle, Implementation activities continue following strategy selection in PP4, with the goal of documenting business continuity plans that aid the organization in recovery at the strategic, tactical, and operational levels. Continue reading

Business Continuity Plans: Resource Loss-based vs Scenario-based

Resource LossFor some reason, bad ideas often attempt to make a comeback – typically, after enough time has passed and the very reason they were discarded or abandoned in the first place is forgotten.

Bad ideas certainly are not exclusive to popular culture; in fact, articles and case studies litter the internet documenting both public and private organizations attempting to resurrect failed models and strategies in hopes that new capabilities or use cases will finally make a particular idea just as good in practice as it was in theory or on paper.

In the wake of several high-profile, unpredictable, catastrophic incidents (“Black Swan Events”) in 2012, Avalution received a number of requests to develop highly-specific, scenario-based plans from our clients. Planning for Every Scenario is “For the Birds” explains that Black Swan Events cannot be predicted, and advises that organizations that implement flexible strategies, applicable in almost any type of scenario to manage response and recovery, enjoy the highest levels of success when faced with a disruptive incident.

However, the demand for scenario-based plans seems to be back.

We understand why organizations may think scenario-based plans are a good idea; however, their appropriateness, utility, and long-term value is limited – much like line dances, vampire romance movies, and mullets.

Instead, in this perspective we’re going to use a case study to make the argument for a resource loss-based plan development approach. Continue reading

Effective Business Continuity: Program vs Plan

TJMany organizations think that effective business continuity planning is synonymous with great plan documentation.

It’s not.

Yes, plan documentation is extremely important. BUT… many organizations fail to recognize that effective business continuity plans – and truly prepared and resilient organizations – are the result of a larger business continuity planning lifecycle that begins with requirements setting and ends with practice (and of course, the process recycles on a continuous basis).

Bottom line – plans are just one key ingredient in the development of an effective business continuity program.

This perspective provides an outline for what Avalution promotes as effective business continuity planning. Please explore the links provided within this document for more in-depth explanations of each step of the planning process. Continue reading

Chaos in Cleveland?

ClevelandSETTING THE STAGE

This morning was a non-eventful morning.  I was sitting in my office, sipping on my coffee, and working on my monthly reports. Then, the manager of our office building entered our lobby.

The Michael Brelo case is nearing an end. Closing arguments have been heard and a verdict is expected shortly. The question is, when?

Our building manager was concerned, and rightfully so.

Our office is located directly across the street from the justice center where the case is taking place. Just a couple weeks ago, we sat witness to the riots and devastation in Baltimore, and, from our ongoing monitoring of the situation and media this week, our team is aware that the City of Cleveland is actively bracing for the possible impact and chaos that could result when the verdict is announced. Continue reading

We Just Did a BIA and Risk Assessment… Now What?

How to Perform an Effective Business Continuity Gap Analysis

Following a business impact analysis (BIA) and risk assessment, best practices indicate that an organization should identify business continuity strategies that allow the organization to treat risks and recover business activities in accordance with management-approved requirements. This seems like a simple task on paper; however, in practice, many organizations struggle to do this, and instead jump straight to documenting business continuity plans. In doing so, these plans fail to include the resources and strategies already in place, or the organization fails to acknowledge and address coverage gaps. This leads to a lost opportunity to identify new risk treatments or recovery strategies, ultimately resulting in plans with no real capability to respond and recoverContinue reading

Treating the Causes of Bad Business Continuity Plans

Faults & Fixes: Bad Plans

Developing strong business continuity plans characterized as actionable, relevant, and simple to execute can be a very difficult task for many organizations. In other articles, Avalution examined the different types of business continuity plans, what information should be included, and how organizations can focus on the basics to develop effective plans. One trend that our consultants see across industries is that as business continuity programs mature, planning approaches inevitably change, often (and unfortunately) becoming more complicated and burdensome over time. As plans become overburdened with complex requirements, simplicity, quality, and effectiveness suffer.

This perspective examines the six typical symptoms of “bad plans” and their common root causes, and provides suggestions on how organizations can develop plans described as actionable, relevant, and simple.  Continue reading

The Simplest Business Continuity Plan Assessment Approach Ever

Although plan documentation isn’t the only business continuity planning outcome, and absolutely should not be the sole focus during a program assessment, it’s certainly an important one.  Plans are one of the first things customers and auditors ask to review because these documents should summarize the response and recovery approach used by the business following the onset of a disruptive incident, as well as a summary of the resources needed to deliver products and services.  If asked to evaluate a plan, what’s the best approach, and what elements and content should you expect to see?  The purpose of this perspective is to outline a simple, straightforward plan assessment approach. Continue reading

Establishing the Business Case for the Business Impact Analysis

Nearly all business continuity professionals understand the importance of the business impact analysis (BIA) as the primary means for laying the foundation of a business continuity program. However, many professionals struggle to receive executive buy-in, as well as the necessary resources and support for the process. This article dispels common myths in attempt to help remove barriers to obtaining support and contributes to the creation of the business case for performing the BIA in any organization. Continue reading

Business Continuity Plans 101

In previous articles, Avalution has espoused the value of using a management systems approach to business continuity and articulated the notion that business continuity is more than just a collection of plan documentation. This approach is reflected in many different standards, including ISO 22301.

Even though business continuity plans represent just one component of a larger business continuity planning effort, they are what guide the organization through all phases of response and recovery following the onset of a disruptive incident – from the initial response and assessment to the eventual return to normal operations. Effective planning is meant to ensure that response and recovery efforts align to the expectations of all interested parties and provide a repeatable approach to minimize downtime.

This perspective explores the different types of business continuity plans that Avalution finds to be the most effective for organizations and examines their purpose within a wider business continuity strategy. Continue reading