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21 Jan 2014

It wasn’t long ago that Business Continuity planning and IT Recovery Planning were done by different groups who never talked to each other.  In many organizations today the two groups have begun to work together – however grudgingly – to forge links between the IT requirements of critical business functions or processes and the prioritization of recovering IT assets.  The two groups may never meet in the same room, but they share the same data – and that’s a very good thing.

Of course, it still doesn’t happen in every organization.  And even where it does, there are often other planning groups that keep to themselves – to the detriment of their organization.

Unified BCM - Play NiceThis is most common in government – exemplified by the chasm that often separates Emergency Management and Business Continuity planners.  As a BC Planner in a State Health agency once explained: “The EMS people plan and train to handle a crisis.  Their perspective is that – when a crisis occurs – they will tell us what we can and cannot do, where and when.  When we try to explain that we have clients who may die if we can’t provide continuity of service, they pretend not to hear.”  In another state agency, the BCM organization was told they were denied permission to use the term “Incident Management”, because it belonged to the EMS organization, and it would be too confusing if anyone else used it.

But it’s not just government.  The Oil & Gas industry has a long history of Incident Management success, but a questionable track record of Crisis Management (communicating with the public).  Many organizations have extensive Business Continuity and Technology recovery programs – and no Incident Management preparations at all.  Still others have Planning processes (Risk Assessment, BIA, dependency mapping, etc.) that don’t include the people who will write the resulting Plans.  And there are the Plan writers who assign Recovery Team members – without ever informing them!

Organizations often find ways to get everyone involved in an acquisition – to work toward common goals.  They find ways to forge enterprise-wide cooperation for technology transitions.  Why can’t they get all the players in the Business Continuity sphere to work together?

Is it really about ‘lack of management commitment’?  Or is it about power, with players jockeying to enhance or preserve their status?  Do organizations give their EM, CM, IM, BC and DR teams the wrong goals?  Or are each of the disciplines so entrench in their ‘silo’ that they don’t recognize that their perspective is nearsighted – or at least incomplete?

This varies from organization to organization, of course.  There are organizations where all of the disciplines work smoothly together.  But there’s plenty of evidence that they are the minority.

The goals of each of these internal groups are the same (whether directly stated or implied): to assure the organization can continue to produce its critical products and services, even under adverse conditions.  It can be fairly certain that their cooperation (if not interoperability) would increase value.  It was Aristotle who said: “The whole is more than the sum of its parts”.  The cooperation of the various silo inhabitants can result in more than each could possibly accomplish individually.  A Unified approach will increase efficiencies and resiliency as tasks are completed quicker without contention of resources as teams work to the common goal.

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David Gray

David, Director- Partner Development at eBRP, has over 30 years of experience in the Information Technology Services industry. His years of customer service experience and leading many quality initiatives, makes him question the status quo (norm). David passionately believes that leadership is about influencing change: in the industry, and for the better. His thoughts are expressed in his blogs and are meant to promote thought & new ideas to those who want to embrace change.
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