Some of the most effective selling in any context is done by systematically applying certain rules. Selling the business case of business continuity is no exception. Finding out what internal decision-makers want and presenting the case for BC so that it demonstrates value in their eyes, while motivating them to accept sooner rather than later, is all part of the process. But is it really all process and no personality?
Archive for the ‘Business Case’ Category
A business case for business continuity is not just about additional benefits that BC might bring to an organisation. In some cases, the need to ensure that an enterprise can “take a lickin’ and still keep on tickin’ “ means other advances in operational theory and practice need to be given up. A case in point is the extension of supply lines internationally to make the most of advantages available offshore. Saving money and increasing supply chain flexibility are always attractive, but how far can an organisation go in trying to optimise these aspects of its operations?
It’s been a year since the natural earthquake and tsunami disasters struck Japan, wrecking many high-tech factories on the country’s north-eastern coast. The Sony Sendai Technology Centre was one of those factories and suffered like the others. Managers and employees struggled to save what they could to restart operations as rapidly as possible. Sony top executives applauded the courage and the determination of the factory staff, as did the local community. Now, 12 months later, cutbacks are reducing factory headcount significantly. Does that invalidate the original business case for business continuity or the extent of the recovery efforts?
Business continuity numbers can be impressive: $200 billion for damages caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, including the disruption to businesses because of destruction of facilities and displaced employees. Then there are the fabled “60-70-80%” statistics that typically look something like this: “70% of companies go out of business after a major data loss”. Yet there are two problems with these numbers. Impressive though blackouts and hurricanes may be, they can’t account for all business interruption. (more…)
What does business continuity suffer from most? According to a number of Business Continuity Managers, it’s not a lack of methodology or solutions – it’s a lack of senior management attention. Because business continuity is often seen as a cost in terms of both time and money, it may be assigned a correspondingly lower priority by company and board directors, especially if so far the organization has not suffered any notable business discontinuity. For that reason, it’s always of interest to see cases where BC managers have been able to present business continuity as an opportunity to either generate profits or cut costs, including one case in particular from the world of finance. (more…)
Making the business case for business continuity is an area that companies struggle with. Whereas fires and explosions can have people’s imaginations working feverishly, when a little time goes by and they don’t happen, they get relegated to a “to do” list that might get done by the IT department, but not by others. (more…)
Your business continuity and IT disaster recovery plans are living documents that need to continually evolve otherwise they will stagnate. If you maintain and exercise your plan it will evolve along with your organisation, helping you to be prepared should a business interruption strike.
Here are OpsCentre’s top 5 tips on how to keep the Business Continuity Plan alive in your organisation.
- Business Continuity needs a senior sponsor that has the authority and influence to establish the priority of BCP for the organisation. Get BCP on the agenda for Road Shows and Strategic Planning sessions that the Executive presents.
- Ensure that impacts upon Business Continuity Strategy are considered when assessing the business case for all new projects. Not just IT projects but business ones as well such as implementing new products, services or business locations. Ensure that any changes required to the business continuity strategy, for example extra seats at a recovery site, are included when you cost out the new project. You can also include reviewing the BIA and updating the recovery procedures for the affected business units as activities in the project. Update your business case templates and change request templates to prompt for these considerations up front.
- Include a BCP awareness package in the induction training for all new staff.
- Include business continuity ‘roles’ in position descriptions, workplans and KPI’s.
- Exercise and Test your plan every year at a minimum. Testing is not a pass or fail exercise, it helps to refine your plan and provides an excellent opportunity for staff to gain familiarity with their business continuity roles and the continuity strategies. It doesn’t have to be boring, business continuity can be an interesting, fun, team building event.
1. The Senior Executive actively supports Business Continuity
The CEO\Director\General Manager that believes in and wants a functional Business Continuity program in place is a critical success factor.
To have a senior Executive that is responsible for setting the priorities and vision for the organisation to stand behind BCP and communicate this to the staff is a powerful change motivator.
2. A Whole of Business Approach
A business continuity program that prioritises the organisation from the Executive’s birdseye perspective as well as analysing business impacts across all business functions in a consistent manner will lead to a better informed business continuity strategy being proposed. It allows the Executive to see the requirements of the business in a single snapshot and make a cost benefit justified decision on the level of continuity required.
3. A Single Point of Business Continuity Management
Someone needs to be responsible for BCP at an organisational level. It needs to be in their job description and a priority for them, otherwise it runs the risk of falling between the cracks. With one person accountable for co-ordinating, aggregating, monitoring the overall Business Continuity program and reporting to the Executive, the program is more likely to stay visible and maintain momentum.
4. Testing, Testing, Testing
Business Continuity should be viewed as an ongoing continuous improvement program. And as such testing is vital. It highlights flaws and validates assumptions in your business continuity plans, giving opportunity to improve them. Testing builds confidence and competence within the business continuity team as it brings home how the strategy would actually work in a variety of scenarios and how the roles will interrelate. An untested Business Continuity Plan cannot be considered viable.
5. Embedding BCP into job descriptions and procedures
The various BCP roles such as BCP Manager, Command Team Leader, Business Unit Leader, etc should be written into position descriptions so that it is very clear that is a part of the responsibilities of the staff members. Procedures for new projects, business changes and IT changes should include provision for ensuring the change has BCP/ IT Disaster Recovery aspects taken into account. All changes should have an impact analysis conducted that includes impact on BCP/IT Disaster Recovery procedures.
6. Starting on the right foot
An induction training package that briefs new employees on the Business Continuity and Emergency Management strategies and plans in place is a great way to start them off on the right foot, highlighting the importance of this to the organisation.
The person responsible as BCP Manager should be tasked with ensuring maintenance of the documentation occurs on a regular basis. Outputs from changes and testing sessions all need to be fed into the plans. Periodically the BIA should be revisited and organisation’s prioritisations and maximum tolerable outages reviewed.
It is commonly the case that Business Continuity is on the agenda due to external regulatory or audit requirements and this provides sufficient impetus for a Business Continuity Implementation. With or without these external pressures, a business case for the cost of implementing and maintaining business continuity will need to be created.
Below are some benefits and justifications that can be examined when establishing a business case for implementing and maintaining a business continuity program:
- The cost of not doing anything. What is your organisation’s level of exposure to business interruption risks? These may include Hardware Failure, Human Error, Natural Disaster etc. Calculate the true cost of downtime should your business suffer an interruption and what the likely timeframe is for recovery in your present situation. Eg. Unproductive staff costs, loss of revenue, loss of critical data and equipment, damage to the organisation’s reputation and the opportunity for your competition to take market share.
- General organisational resilience due to being risk aware and implementing mitigating actions, leading to reduced downtime.
- The Business Impact Assessment (BIA) phase of a business continuity program can help to find areas of process inefficiency that can be addressed.
- Cost savings that may be possible through server rationalization using virtualization technology.
- Reduced customer churn if they are subject to less service interruptions.
- Enhanced market position. It can give you an edge over your competition if you can provide assurances of continuity and service.
- Audit or regulatory compliance. Less exposure to compliance problems.
- Avoidance of penalties or fines for non-compliance with deadlines eg. Payroll within a certain timeframe according to an award or providing services to your customers within the terms of a Service Level Agreement.
It is also critical when developing a business case for implementing and maintaining a business continuity program to include the up-front costs of implementation eg. Consulting, internal staff time, establishment of IT systems as well as recurring costs such as leasing of recovery seats, software licenses and internal staff time for ongoing maintenance of the plans and conducting testing.