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

How, When, and If to Implement Business Continuity Software

Business continuity planning software can add significant value if it complements a strong program that has management support, competent personnel, and the information necessary to establish requirements, identify strategies, and document plans. While software will not “do business continuity planning for an organization”, it can provide an already-built and structured approach that automates what could otherwise be a manual internal process, freeing practitioners to focus on program maturation.  That said, not all software is right for every organization, so it is important to ensure any selected software is a right fit BEFORE trying to implement it.  Many organizations approach software selection anticipating that the software vendor will show them what they need or tell them what features best fit their program; however, without first understanding the program’s current state, needs, and capabilities, odds increase that organizations will select software that does not align to the current state program and could thus require significant additional customization or result in ineffective use.

This article discusses common business continuity software myths and selection issues and provides recommendations on factors to consider before deciding to pursue, select, and implement a business continuity planning software solution, so that you can get the most value from whatever option you select. Continue reading

Program Roles & Responsibilities in a Business Continuity Management System

Part of Avalution’s Conforming to ISO 22301 Series

This perspective is the seventh in a series to discuss key elements of the ISO 22301 business continuity management system, including value-adding elements of the standard or requirements that could “trip up” an organization during the certification process. Continue reading

Supporting IT Disaster Recovery Planning – A CMDB versus Traditional Business Continuity Software

Recently, a question was raised by a client regarding whether it would be better to create a method to manage technical information in support of the IT disaster recovery planning effort, acquire and implement a commercial Configuration Management Database (CMDB) solution, or customize its existing business continuity software solution. The short answer is, “it depends”. This perspective discusses this commonly asked question, which by the way, is very important given the need to understand the relationship between IT infrastructure, applications, data, and business continuity requirements. Continue reading

Challenges in Implementing a Successful Business Continuity Program

Congratulations! You’ve started your business continuity planning effort—sometimes, that’s the hardest part. Now, you’re working diligently on your organization’s business continuity program, but it’s not delivering the results you had hoped. You’re performing a business impact analysis (BIA) and risk assessment, documenting plans, and socializing the next steps for your program, but it’s not progressing like you would expect or maybe it doesn’t have the capability your organization needs. So, what can you do?

This perspective outlines the common challenges organizations face when implementing a business continuity program that meets response and recovery expectations, and offers solutions that business continuity managers can pursue to address these challenges. Continue reading

Using Lessons Learned in the Evaluation of Business Continuity Procedures

Part of Avalution’s Conforming to ISO 22301 Series

The management system approach to business continuity requires a culture of continual improvement in business continuity programs.  One of the key steps in facilitating continual improvement is to regularly evaluate existing business continuity procedures.  This perspective takes a closer look at Clause 9.1.2, ISO 22301’s requirement for evaluation of business continuity procedures.  Continue reading

Business Continuity & IT Disaster Recovery – Should You Start From a Blank Page?

Building a business continuity program (or anything worthwhile for that matter) takes time and dedication.  It also requires compromises – constantly balancing what is practical and what is possible to protect the business.  BUT – it’s important to remember that politics, committees, and making everyone happy isn’t the goal of business continuity.

If you’re lost, playing the same game over and over and ending up at the same result, maybe it’s time to start from a blank page so you can focus on what matters most. Continue reading

Is Your Mindset Limiting Your Effectiveness at Work?

As business continuity professionals, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the myriad roadblocks that exist on the road to building resiliency – lack of funding, lack of people, lack of management support, etc.  In some organizations, it seems like everyone just wants the business continuity person to go away!

At Avalution, we’re always studying these challenges and working to find ways to prevent and overcome them.  Many of those techniques are documented elsewhere in this blog.  However, one foundational consideration is missing – an appropriate mindset in approaching the challenges facing you and your organization.  Specifically, there are three areas where business continuity planners are often defeated before they even get started:  expectations, excuses, and confidence. Continue reading

Who Should Be On My Business Continuity Steering Committee?

steeringWhen designing or transforming business continuity programs, our consultants are often asked, “Who should participate on our organization’s business continuity steering committee?”  While the answer may seem simple and straightforward for some, too often steering committees contain the wrong combination of participants, the wrong “level” of individuals and/or a focus on the wrong objectives.  Without appropriate steering committee participation and thus the appropriate leadership, business continuity programs are far less likely to be aligned with business strategy and therefore less likely to be successful. Continue reading