That question usually comes from an executive after some other organization has a business crisis that makes global or national headlines. The question causes anxiety in many Business Continuity Planners.
I remember the first time I got that question. A local business had suffered a lightning strike, cutting power and frying much of their electrical and technology gear. I can still recall the sudden panic when our CFO asked me that question: “What’s our Plan for that?”
We had no such Plan. Had we, we should also have had Plans for tornados, hail, parking lot sinkholes, contaminated drinking water and trucks crashing through our lobby doors: things that had happened to local businesses during the previous year.
Someone far removed from the Planning process (like my CFO) might assume that there’s “A Plan” for every eventuality.
Of course, it’s impossible to have a plan for every cause. But it is feasible to prepare for every impact.
A Business Continuity Planner’s goal is to make sure his or her organization is prepared for anything. There really should be no “Our Plan”. Unless that organization is a single location with a handful of employees, a single Plan is insufficient. Plans to recover or continue critical Business Processes (or Functions), and Plans to recover individual, critical IT Applications are essential.
Each of those Plans can be designed to include strategies that enable a response to any disruption – precisely what the CFO was looking for.
How would I respond if asked that same question today?
“We have interrelated Plans that will assure a fast and effective response to any disruption – because those Plans focus on recovering from impacts, regardless of the cause.”
A focus on the dependencies of critical Business Processes (locations, people, IT applications, vendors and other Business Processes) enables the formation of Business Continuity Plans with strategies to respond to the loss of any of those dependencies. As a result, a Plan can be used to recover from any disruption – regardless of cause.
The next time someone asks you “Do we have a Plan for that?” What will your answer be?