Attaining Executive Support for Your Business Continuity Program

  • January 26, 2015
  • Dan Banning

Nothing can derail a continuity program faster than having executives who don’t support the initiative. The following are tips to help “sell” your BCM program:

  • Focus on the positive not the negative. Many people focus on the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) when discussing continuity planning.  It is true that one key benefit of a good continuity programing is lessoning the impact of the un-known event. Instead focus on the positive, you are selling tomorrow. A good program will ensure your organization will see tomorrow regardless of what may come.
  • Describe your Return on Investment in terms of insurance. Almost everybody and every organization will purchase some type of insurance. Business continuity planning helps insure against disruption in the event of a catastrophic event.
  • Let other managers do the selling for you. Use your business continuity program to create allies in other groups that will sell the idea for you. You can do this by using data collected from business continuity to help out the groups. Examples of what you can provide:
    • You can provide your internal audit group a validated list of business processes.
    • You can provide your IT group justification for spending more dollars on recovery infrastructure.
    • You can validate the list of critical vendors for your vendor management group.
    • You can help your information security group map sensitive data between systems, applications, and business processes.
    • You can help Human Resources (HR) validate the organization chart.
    • Facilities can use your data ensure life safety of employees and consistently track facility recovery capabilities (such as generator capacity).
  • Substantiating Insurance Claims. Some executives state that they don’t need a continuity plan since they already pay for business disruption insurance. The challenge with that approach is that during an event you will be tasked with substantiating your loss in order to make a claim. A good business continuity plan does just that, so by doing both you will ensure the effectiveness of your policy.
  • Focus on your customers. What customer wants to hear that a key supplier or service provider is not prepared for the worst? Make an ally out of your marketing department. Let them use the concept of tomorrow to create positive content for your organization’s marketing efforts.
  • Review the regulations/standards your organization is required to adhere to. Many if not most mention continuity planning as a requirement: FFIEC, NCUA, FERC/NERC, FAA, FDA, OCC, ISO, BSI, FDIC and the list lengthens each year. Educate your executives that BC planning is not a choice, it is a requirement.
  • Industry Standards – Talk to your peers at competing organizations. Present the fact that ‘everybody else is doing it,’ then ask, “Why aren’t we?” The idea that “the competition knows something that we don’t” is a powerful motivator for top executives.
  • Quantify the single points of failure in your organization (loss of facilities, staff, vendors, technology, business processes). Then squint your eyes and ask your executives in your best Clint Eastwood voice “Do you feel lucky, well do you?”
  • Start with an exercise. It is best practice to conduct an exercise after your plans have been created; however exercising makes continuity planning real. Design the exercise to highlight the deficiencies that you know exist. Conduct the exercise and use the gaps to drive the creation of a business continuity program.
  • If all else fails focus on FUD. Fear of the unknown; you simply don’t know what you don’t know. Question anything that is not documented; sow uncertainty about theoretical plans. Doubt any plan that has not been proved with an exercise.

Contact us for more information on our Quantivate Business Continuity Software.