7 Tips to Find an Executive Sponsor for Your Business Continuity Program
This is part 2 of a two-part blog series about executive sponsorship for business continuity program success. In part 1, looked at the benefits of executive sponsorship, and in part 2 we’ll share some great ideas about how you can choose the right sponsor for your program. If you haven’t read it yet, check out part 1 here.
In our previous blog, we shared some of the many reasons why an executive sponsor can be the key to success for your business continuity management program. But now that you know you need one, how do you find the right leader who is the best fit for your program?
Here are 7 suggestions to help:
- Is Action-Oriented
Look for a leader who can call your organization to action for business continuity and who will champion your business continuity program within your senior leadership team.
- Knows the Ins and Outs
Make sure your executive sponsor candidate knows the ins and outs of your business, including a general understanding of all your products and customers, and how your customers use your products and services. It’s an additional win for your program if your sponsor understands your organization’s competitive landscape and where there may be challenges and opportunities.
- Gets the Big Picture
The strongest executive sponsor candidate should be a team leader who has basic familiarity with business continuity, including insight into your partners, vendors, and suppliers. Your executive sponsor should also understand business continuity-related objectives and program drivers.
- Walks the Walk
A good executive sponsor candidate will be someone who is well-respected by his or her peers within your organization. And, it’s an added bonus if that exec is also respected throughout your industry. Your sponsor should be someone who understands company culture and can influence organizational-wide action, even if the sponsor is not your company’s most senior leader.
- Is Fluent in Two Languages—Business and Business Continuity
Your executive sponsor should be fluent in two languages—the language of your business (i.e. organizational goals and objectives) and business continuity. By being fluent in both, your sponsor can help communicate the value of your program upward to senior leadership and key stakeholders and can also play an important role in promoting business continuity as an organizational program while emphasizing it’s critical to how your organization does business.
- Has Capacity
Even if you find an executive sponsor who successfully does all the things we mentioned above, you should ensure the sponsor also has the capacity to take on business continuity championing. This sponsor should understand how to include business continuity value-adds and messaging in organizational strategy, not just when you need something—like a business continuity management solution—but throughout organizational decisions that determine the potential success of your business over time.
- Understands Risk
In addition to championing and supporting your program, one of the important roles your executive sponsor will have is the ability to understand and communicate your organization’s risk appetite. Based on organization goals, business impact analysis, and risk assessments, your executive leader will help determine which levels of risk are acceptable for your business continuity program, which can be mitigated, and which should be avoided. Over time, as you make changes and updates to your plans—or if you encounter issues within response protocols for existing plans—this sponsor should be able to quickly respond with risk and operational knowledge to help you determine how to mitigate or resolve it.
Maintaining the Relationship Value
Once you’ve selected your executive sponsor, there are also a few things you can do to get the most out of your relationship. For starters, have routine touch points with your executive sponsor to discuss the current status of your business continuity program, any obstacles you’ve encountered, and plans for the future.
Encourage and facilitate routine feedback. Consider questions such as:
- Are there issues or challenges that have emerged that concern your sponsor?
- Have changes in responsibility affected the sponsor’s capabilities to support your program?
- How well is the sponsor doing communicating your program’s needs, objectives, and challenges both up and down your organization?
- How can you support your sponsor to mitigate or resolve some of these challenges?
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