For decades, “having a plan” was synonymous with business continuity success. There are many reasons why that notion came to be the accepted standard. Unfortunately, it wasn’t true then, and it certainly is not true today. Business continuity management is the business process of managing and responding to risks that can result in the disruption of an organization’s ability to continue to deliver its products and services to the market. It’s hard to imagine a “plan” suffices in support of something this fundamental.
The illusion has been that a plan equals being prepared. The reality is that few people report using a plan “as planned.” The primary value of a business continuity plan is that, in theory, it contains the information and guidance necessary to support and direct response activities. Unfortunately, a “plan” has taken the form of a document that is too often outdated, inaccurate, or too cumbersome. A document is an ineffective organizing principle for capturing and accessing the information necessary to support a leadership team, especially at a time of crisis.
Business continuity success depends on first embracing the concept of preparation over planning. Similarly, a successful business continuity manager is more valued because the product of his/her work effort is an organizational capability and strength rather than a document. There are six keys to success for any business continuity manager individually and for the company they represent:
Knowledge – Very few people truly know how an organization works, how it might break, and how it can be protected. Information is at the core of knowledge, and the successful business continuity manager has the facts at their fingertips.
Organization – It can be difficult to put knowledge to work if you are not very organized. Organization is a force multiplier. It sets the foundation to leverage knowledge more effectively and efficiently.
Resourcefulness – Resources are always limited. Even more so at a time of crisis. There is a huge difference between resources and resourcefulness. The resourceful business continuity manager is more creative, innovative and effective. They’re more about getting things done with what they have than letting a shortage of resources paralyze them.
Judgment – By definition, risk management initiatives often run counter to the prevailing energy of the organization. Successful business continuity managers are realistic and use sound judgment, careful to use limited funds and resources wisely.
Emotional Intelligence – There is a place and time for everything. The successful business continuity manager is able to engage stakeholders because they have been able to fit their agenda more effectively into the primary motivation of their constituency.
Communication and Collaboration – Organizations are complex organisms, and it can be very difficult to communicate in the best of times. At a time of crisis, collaboration is at a premium, and the successful business continuity manager has cultivated the relationships to become uniquely qualified to bring the organization together, leveraging their knowledge, organization, resourcefulness, judgment, and emotional intelligence.