How to Fail at Business Continuity

10 Feb

There are many factors that can contribute to a “less-than-perfect” business continuity program – or a program that truly fails to meet management expectations. What are those fatal mistakes that should be avoided and how can an organization prevent them from occurring? [1]

Not Understanding the Organisation;

One of the main jobs of business continuity professionals is to understand the organisation he or she is working with and that means being aware of how they work, their processes and key products. But here is where the problem lies as they often tend to enhance their program by overloading it in layers and software applications. And this in turn is a huge waste in resources and capital.

When talking about business continuity you are referring to a process which is put in place to alleviate risk within core areas of an organisation. And these risks have to predetermined and decided upon by the powers that be, the management. It all boils down to the top dogs in identifying the type of risk the organisation wants to alleviate, because realistically it is impossible to eliminate all risks. In order to be certain that you are mitigating the high priority risks the business continuity professionals need to have a concrete understanding of the organisation’s strategy, critical products and services and what the long-term goals are. It is from the very top that this information must come from in order to be sure of which risks to eliminate with effective approaches and methods. Without this there is a risk that the plan may be focusing on the wrong aspects of the organisation and not the core functions, services and processes.

Executing Methodology Instead of Managing a Program;

Businesses are always continually trying to improve how they create their business continuity programs and practices, and this is achieved through the use of business continuity methodologies and strategies. A strategic goal linking the activities together is crucial when building a program; otherwise the business continuity program will not provide the intended value. The majority of these methodologies recommend performing analysis activities and these types of analysis help aid the management in focusing on planning for the continuity of the organisations core functions and activities and identify the most appropriate risk mitigation, response and recovery strategies.

Unnecessarily Using Business Continuity Jargon;

When trying to communicate with business and technology stakeholders or the heads of organisations business continuity jargon can be very confusing to people not in the loop when it comes to the subject. Terms which include acronyms such as EOC, RTO, RPO, BIA etc. only help to cause more confusion to the situation. Using these terms in the end generally causes confusion and a lot of frustration. When using these terms it requires non-business continuity professionals to have to adapt to the terminology and learn it on the go which leads to a substantial amount of extra training in order to enable these employees to be able to participate in the business continuity planning. The vast majority of employees and personnel in an organisation will greatly appreciate when the business continuity professional avoids the jargon and speaks in a language they can understand which will result in less confusion and more productivity.

Unrealistic Recovery Objectives;

A lot of organisations out there, during the process of the analysis phase of business continuity planning, request that every business process and unit be defined by their OWN recovery objectives. The problem with this however, is that managers will often struggle to define the appropriate recovery timeframe.

Failing to Create a Culture of Business Continuity;

If a business continuity program does not have the support of the business and the business fails to think of risk mitigation and recoverability when making day-to-day decisions then it is destined to fail regardless if the organisation has the best systems, employees, analysis, strategies and plans. It is important to drive home the significance of a business continuity program into the culture of the business in order for it to be successful in the event of a disaster occurring. This logic also applies to the managers if they fail to take into consideration business continuity when making a decision as they could well be putting the business in jeopardy and the costs associated to business continuity could escalate.

Sources;

  1. http://www.disaster-resource.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=820:the-top-five-ways-to-fail-at-business-continuity&catid=3:planning-and-management

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