Business Continuity Operating System
At Avalution, we’ve helped build and run hundreds of high-performing business continuity programs. And, for the first time, we’re sharing how we do it and how you can apply our proven process to achieve the right level of resiliency for your organization.
We call it the Business Continuity Operating System™, or BCOS.
BCOS enables practitioners to directly address issues that are draining energy from their program. In fact, the core of BCOS drives better engagement throughout the organization, and then uses that effective engagement to create confidence in response and recovery capabilities.
Our intention in releasing BCOS goes beyond helping organizations. It’s also focused on helping business continuity professionals. We believe EVERYONE in the business continuity profession should be able to achieve the following four personal and professional outcomes:
- I am empowered to make my organization resilient
- I have the resources needed to protect the organization aligned to management’s expectations
- I am challenged to grow personally and mature the program
- I enjoy my work
If you can say YES! to all four of the above, we believe your potential as a professional will be realized. If you can’t – read on. We’ve built a system that, when followed, will absolutely achieve the four outcomes above. Be ready… this isn’t about methodology!
Six Key Ingredients
Based on our work, we’ve identified six core elements that drive business continuity success. By contrast, each of these elements, when ignored or absent, are also common trouble areas. What follows is a high-level introduction to each.
It’s all starts with Frame – which is focused on getting everyone on the same page about what business continuity is and what it’s trying to achieve for the organization. We do this by getting in sync with all stakeholders on four key questions.
The questions are:
- Why are we doing business continuity?
- What are we trying to protect?
- How much business continuity is needed?
- Who will be involved in the program?
When all stakeholders share the same answers to these four questions, we’ve found significantly higher rates of program success (and buy-in)! What’s even better – it’s doesn’t take that long. While a detailed description of our process will come later, Avalution gets all stakeholders together and answers these four questions in 90 minutes or less.
Business continuity programs should be long-lasting, not a once and done project. The most reliable way of establishing a long-lasting effort is to create a clear, documented process that others can pickup and follow. Our goal in the process component is to have a clearly documented process and ensure everyone is following it! Although documenting a process sounds straightforward, it can be a tricky effort. We’ve all seen nightmarishly cumbersome, technical standard operating procedures and indecipherable process flow charts. Neither are needed or helpful! We’ll show you the key to creating useful and usable process documentation that is clear and concise.
Having the right people involved in executing the right program roles makes all the difference. But creating clarity on their responsibilities is just as important. Avalution has developed a series of tools to help identify the right people to involve and to clarify their responsibilities. In our work at Avalution, we always work to assign the right people by using something we learned when implementing a process described in the book Traction – does the person “get it” (understand the needs), “do they want it” (the responsibility), and do they have the “capacity” (to perform the responsibilities)?
Engage is all about having compelling meetings with the right people on the right topics.
This is the most often overlooked and undervalued part of running a business continuity program!
Have you ever been to a steering committee meeting where the presenter talked the whole time and no one asked a single question? We have – and it was really boring! If your meetings are boring, is there any wonder why people don’t want to show up? At Avalution, we’ve developed a series of highly targeted meetings that are engaging and result in compelling discussions. Our meetings even have a built-in feedback loop to help ensure they stay on track and add value.
We recommend two kinds of measurables:
- Activities/Compliance; and
- Products and Services.
Activities/Compliance is all about making sure people execute the process at the right time. Activities/Compliance metrics typically include common metrics like “# of BIAs updated” and “# of plans updated”. Most programs have something like these.
Products and Services is a group of metrics focused on highlighting the actual recovery capability of the products and services the business continuity program is meant to protect. Products and Services metrics are a crucial measurable for the steering committee to understand the capability of the program (and by the way, when developed appropriately, these are worded in the language of the business executive).
Business continuity must evolve with the organization – it’s never going to be perfect in it’s first iteration. We drive incremental improvement with a combination of goals, actions, and experiments. Actions are short term ‘to-dos’ to move the program forward in the next two weeks. Goals are quarterly, annual, and multi-year targets that mark small steps forward for the program. Hitting goals is synonymous with success in moving the program forward. We also drive improvement through experiments. These are low risk actions where failure is always an option. Because they’re meant to be low risk, the emphasis is on learning rather than trying to be perfect.
Examples of experiments are:
- Trying to recover a really complex application at an alternate site;
- Trying to operate a critical department remotely for a day; or
- Trying out a new approach to collect discrete data in support of a business impact analysis process.
Applying the Model
The BCOS model described above provides a blueprint for what drives business continuity success, but we haven’t really addressed ‘how’ to build a program that incorporates all these pieces. That’s where the BCOS process comes in!
The BCOS process includes detailed instruction and tools to support both the building and running of business continuity programs.
And, for those in IT, it works equally as well for IT disaster recovery programs that operate separately or in conjunction with business continuity. In a future perspective, we’ll take a deep dive into our process to highlight what makes it so unique.
If you’d like to learn more about BCOS, subscribe to updates from Avalution, here.