One vital element of delivering a successful Business Continuity programme and one in my opinion often overlooked is to validate your plans and strategy. This takes time and commitment. In turn this will provide reassurance and confidence, training and awareness, greater understanding of procedures and responsibilities. So how do we achieve this? Simply put we complete exercises, tests, rehearsals. There are many different styles that can be delivered...process driven, call cascades, partial or full invocation, desktop, scenario based and more.
However, the temptation to simply use the same old format or content over and over again should be avoided. Just because you've changed the location, date or time of the details within the exercise doesn't make it different or acceptable. Where we can truly add value to our Business Continuity programme is to allow us to understand what our core risks and concerns are. Understand where the potential pain is, what the impacts of an incident really are on our core business activities, systems and people.
Spending quality time on developing an exercise which is fit for purpose is where the true benefits can be gained. Taking the time to understand your local surroundings, potential incidents and challenges enables us to develop something that is realistic, believable and purposeful.
Even if your only discussing why we do Business Continuity and raising peoples own knowledge and perception of the value, using realistic examples helps to strengthen the justification.
During my recent travels I've been fortunate to not only raise awareness of Business Continuity but to deliver exercises. I have taken the time to understand the business requirements, the pains and been able to deliver something that is realistic, making a conscious decision to not copy one idea for all. However, as a result I'm now being known as a fortune teller or person of doom! The exercise has gone well, lessons have been learned, objectives achieved, attendees have had fun which is just as well as within a relatively short period of time the example given has happened for real.
I'm superstitious and now spend time 'knocking on wood' to counter-jinx the topic of discussion. Whilst firmly believing on providing realistic examples I don't actually wish the incident to happen. So, to add to my repertoire I will now throw in the incident whereby 'aliens have landed on the roof', surely that can't happen, can it?
Claire Phipps, MBCI