Business Continuity As a Proactive Position

Man At Desk SmallThere are certain job responsibilities which are common amongst business continuity professionals everywhere, though these are often influenced by organizational views on risk and approaches to risk management.  In addition to administrative tasks such as presentations, budgeting, and human resource-related tasks, the following five responsibilities often fall under the job description of business continuity professionals:

1. Facilitating the identification of recovery objectives

Either directly executing or facilitating the completion of a business impact analysis (BIA).

2. Designing response and recovery strategies

Engaging business and technology professionals in identifying, designing and implementing response and recovery strategies in line with recovery objectives noted in the BIA.

3. Documenting and updating business continuity plans

Developing a plan structure and documenting crisis management, crisis communications, business recovery or IT disaster recovery plans, or ensuring the business and information technology departments complete these tasks with adequate training, coaching and QA.

4. Facilitating business continuity tests/exercises

Scheduling, planning and facilitating (or participating in) tests and exercises designed to create awareness of crisis management, crisis communications, business recovery and IT disaster recovery processes.

5. Ensuring personnel named in the plans receive adequate training

Developing a training and awareness plan for employees in general, as well as those named in the response and recovery plans.

As organizations proactively address risk (whether they’ve implemented Enterprise Risk Management or not), a sixth and seventh bullet may be needed in your job description. The following two tasks are truly proactive in nature, in that they are executed as part of projects and change activities. In other words, they enable you to integrate business continuity into future processes and technologies, as opposed to trying to deal with continuity after the fact.

6. Engineering resiliency and recovery into the business.

Your organization is moving from a collection of legacy applications to SAP. Or the executive management team just announced a move to a new facility due to recent growth and acquisition – a facility that will be constructed just for your company. As a business continuity professional, getting involved in the requirements phase of business and technology projects will:

  • Give you the opportunity to raise availability risks to the project team for consideration;
  • Enable redundancy or resiliency strategies to be built into solutions if warranted; and
  • Give you a head start identifying recovery solutions so you’ll be ready when the new application or facility is operational.

7. Ensuring the change management process includes business continuity

How many times have you learned about a key technology significantly changing – code, interdependent software or utilities or even the platform – and then discovered the current recovery strategy no longer meets business requirements? Or a key business function – let’s say two of your company’s call centers – has collapsed into one physical location, thereby eliminating the inherent recovery strategy? Becoming a key “player” in the organizational and technology change management processes (to include the vendor selection process) will ensure availability risk is taken into account during the requirements phase of strategic projects.

In many organizations, BC and DR professionals identify business and technology continuity strategies that are difficult to “sell”, fund and implement because resiliency and recovery was not considered until after the project or change effort was closed. Approaching business continuity as a forward-thinking position will lead to an organization-wide business continuity capability that is classified as truly cost-effective.