The million dollar question for most businesses when they review their Business Continuity program is “If push comes to shove – will it work?” and ultimately the only way to find out is by experiencing a real business interruption. Not what the board wants to hear!
Helmuth von Moltke famously said: “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy” and in my experience of supporting over 700 businesses to recover from all manner of disasters, I can also say: “No business continuity plan survives contact with a disaster”
So should we just rip up our Continuity Plans and hope for the best? Absolutely not, what we should do is use the Business Continuity planning process to understand our business better, take steps to de-risk where possible, insure effectively and focus attention on building a Dynamic Recovery Capability. This approach gives the best possible chance of success.
Dynamic Recovery Capability
Traditional business continuity planning attempts to embed Crisis Management and Recovery capability within an organization. This is great if you have huge teams and a bank of retained knowledge from managing real crises. In most companies I work with, minimal experience of managing a real crisis exists and all manner of attempts have been made (or not, as the business is too busy taking care of the here and now) to exercise and simulate a crisis. However it’s dressed up, this is no substitute for real world experience.
The other major flaw with relying on an in-house recovery team is that, in many cases, the decision makers who need to be objective and rational in a crisis situation, are in fact emotionally involved in the incident, which clouds their ability to make the right calls. Hurricane Sandy was a great recent example where crisis managers were both personally and professionally impacted by the event. Team members may or may not be available physically, but will they be available mentally?
If you need urgent medical attention you call an ambulance. If you get sued you call a lawyer. If your business is impacted by a Crisis, it’s probably not a good idea to deal with it yourself, so it may be worth getting an expert 24/7 Crisis Response partner on speed dial.