6 Quick Wins to Get the Most Out of Your New Business Continuity Program
If you’re investing time, money, and resources into starting a new business continuity program, you want to get the most out of it as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, many business continuity professionals feel like they’re floundering when they begin building their business continuity programs.
Why? Because people often feel like they have to immediately aim for a fully-rounded business continuity management system. This “running before you can walk” approach often results in your new program getting bogged down and team members feeling overwhelmed.
A much better way to tackle new business continuity programs is to take a maturity-based approach. The initial step in this direction is to accept that your initial business continuity plans and strategies are going to be “immature.” This sounds like a pejorative term, but in fact it is simply setting realistic targets to allow your program to grow to maturity over a number of years.
To help you build your business continuity program, let’s look at some quick wins to get you moving rapidly and will allow you to develop capabilities that, while they may not protect everything, will still enable you to respond effectively to crises and incidents.
Here are 6 steps toward successful immaturity!
- Keep it Simple
At the beginning of the process, resolve to make your program as simple as possible. Less is definitely more when it comes to business continuity. If your plans are too complex and prescriptive in times of crisis where you need quick action, your team will probably ignore your plans altogether, taking your organization back to square one, with incident response managed ad hoc. People using your plans during stress of a real incident should be able to quickly and simply understand what they need to do to mitigate, respond to, and recover from an event.
- Knowledge is Power
Before beginning, it’s important to understand your budget, time frame, which resources and tools are available, and which requirements your program must meet to ensure compliance and regulatory standards. This knowledge will help you build a business continuity management program that meets your organization’s unique and specific needs.
- Don’t be Afraid of the BIA
When you are new to business continuity, a business impact analysis (BIA) can seem a bit of a dark art. A good approach is to take some of the mystique out by setting the scene using everyday language. Don’t call it a BIA. Consider it a discovery survey and you will likely see heads nodding in understanding rather than boredom. Develop your business continuity plans as single entities, linking your BIA and strategy phases together into one seamless process. This will help your team follow each workflow process without being overwhelmed or missing important elements.
- Use a Framework as Your Instructor
A business continuity management framework helps ensure you’ve got key elements needed to survive disruptive events. Your framework will help you build your business continuity plans as continuous cycles, where you can see your strengths and determine where you need improvements.
There are a variety of frameworks you can use to meet your organization’s needs, but most cover policies, governance, procedures, program components, and lifecycle. For example ISO 22301, the business continuity management standard, provides an effective framework to create and maintain your business continuity program and scale it over time.
To effectively build and utilize your program using a framework, consider using a business continuity management platform and not static documents like spreadsheets. This will help you coordinate key elements of your program and data points in one location, always ensuring your team has access to the most current and accurate plans and resources.
- Start From the Top
Most successful business continuity programs begin with executive and key stakeholder buy-in, including finding an executive sponsor who supports and champions your program with the resources, budget, and people you need. They’re there to cheer you on and help blow the whistle if it looks like your program is struggling to keep up.
- Train and Exercise for Success
Frequent, high-quality training and exercising is key to business continuity success. This includes conducting routine exercises to make sure your plans are effective and then making changes where you fall short. Awareness campaigns and communication plans are also key. Ensure that all of your employees know how important their individual roles are for overall team success.
Get Started Quickly
Any new business continuity program will take time to get up and going, but the key is not spending months—or for some teams even years—dotting every i and crossing every t.
Embrace immaturity. Start with the basics and then move on to more advanced aspects of business continuity once you, your team, and your organization are ready.
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