The main challenges in properly implementing business continuity management in an organisation can be expressed in four words: engagement, understanding, appropriateness and assumptions. In other words: senior management needs to be involved and committed to BCM; business continuity managers need to understand the essentials about IT operations; BCM processes need to link business objectives to operational realities; and any assumptions in BC planning need to be closely scrutinized. If this sounds like IT governance, you’re right. IT governance gives some good hints about how to make business continuity a practical, valued reality.
Effective IT governance is all about business requirements driving IT strategy, and IT contributing insights back for doing better business. That means several things. IT must be managed as a strategic business asset. Senior management must have the right understanding of IT and know how to direct its activities. Likewise, IT needs to actively contribute to business planning and strategy, leveraging its organisation-wide presence and insights. Now replace ‘IT’ by ‘Business Continuity Management’. BCM must also be driven by business requirements and strategy, and in its turn feed constructive suggestions back for greater business effectiveness and efficiency.
Actions for good business continuity look like those for good IT governance, starting by hooking senior management, business continuity management, operations and IT. BCM too must take a holistic view of the organisation and its projects, as well as handling individual projects. A portfolio perspective of business continuity will allow an enterprise to make appropriate investments and trade-offs to leverage BC actions between different departments and maximize overall advantage. In fact, by cross-pollinating IT governance and business continuity management, both stand to improve through an effect of a ‘virtuous circle’ with the organisation as a whole reaping the benefits in both cases too.