I have been in the crisis and disaster business for a very long time – decades. From that experience, I know that emergency management and Business Continuity Management (BCP) is a foreign language to most business leaders and is seen as a mysterious pit into which companies pour money.
I am working with a business leader who knows her organization needs a BCP. But she is so frustrated with the BCP process to date, and she is about to throw up her hands in frustration. This is what I saw when I when I reviewed the plan …
Jeesh! This chart almost most gave me vertigo.
What went wrong?
My client issued vague instructions to highly technical processed minded staff. Her team did what they do best and built a highly technical process instead of a thoughtful plan.
What to do?
There will be floods, fires, snowstorms and strikes that will get in the way of you conducting business. There are also laws, regulations, contractual obligations and good-solid business reasons to have a BCP. She should have set priorities for the work and let the professionals on her team do their job. (Read: Why bark if you have a good dog)
1. You are responsible for people. First and for most you – YES YOU – are responsible to the human beings who work for you and their families. You must address how you will protect the safety of those who depend on you, by:
– Communication is key when it comes to an emergency, business disruption and in life in general. When I say communication, I do not mean communicating … I mean talk to your people (read more)
– Plan for the worse and hope for the best. For example, what if you lost your servers or data; lost all power for days; lost cell and mobility systems; what if there was a death of a team member; and, how do you contact team members?
– Practice, practice, practise. Host lunch-and-learns to discuss the plans, hold walk-throughs and drills to ensure people know what is going on.
2. Balance risk and costs. You will hear terms like real-time objectives, key business processes and a million acronyms. In layman’s terms, these measure your business functions to decide which are critical to getting back up and running.
For example, if something, like servers, is lost how long can you go before they need to be running again? If it is hours, then you may need off-site servers. But if you can get by for weeks, maybe you can get by with additional insurance coverage.
3. Understand you are the leader. In the event of a disaster, it’s important to be aware that your people need you to be present and lead
They won’t expect you to be perfect, but they will expect you to be present.
They need you to calm and steady because their lives will be turned upside down.