Monday, 26 March 2012

BCAW 2012 - Now that it is over, what next?

Donna Monkhouse
BCAW 2012 was once again a great success and organisations from across the globe took advantage of this fantastic opportunity to find out more about business continuity management by getting involved in the week’s events and activities, ranging from webinars to new research reports, from an online business continuity game to online debates and much more.

Having captured your interest in business continuity and planted the seed of BCM into your mind, the next question is of course, “what next?”  So here my top ten tips for you:

1.       Attend a Conference – the next big conference is the BCI China Conference 2012, which is taking place for the fourth year running in Shanghai from 3rd to 4th July 2012.  This two day conference will cover topics such as Supply Chain, Natural Hazards and Disaster Management, ICT Resilience, Engaging Executives, Human Aspects of BCM, Effective Crisis Management and BCM Tools.   The next big event in the Business Continuity calendar is the BCM World Conference and Exhibition 2012 – this flagship event of the BCI is taking place 7th to 8th November this year at Olympia, London UK.  With three streams – BCM Lifecycle; BCM in Action and Thought Leadership in BCM, it has something for everyone from the beginner to the most advanced and experienced practitioner.  And there is a great free exhibition attached to it as well, the perfect environment to discover more about products and services related to BCM.

2.       Test your business continuity management skills with BC24, the BCI’s online game that tests an organisation’s ability to manage crises in a simulated environment.   At £250 + VAT for an annual site licence (unrestricted number of users) it not only offers great value for money but is a proven tool to help organisations raise the awareness of and embed BCM into their business culture.  Read our case study and find out how DHL used BC24 to embed the new Business Continuity Standard (BS 25999) into their organisation.  For more information, please contact Jan Gilbert.

3.       BCI Physical and Virtual Workshops for members and non-members, these workshops take an in depth look at current subjects that are particularly relevant to business continuity practitioners. Some of the Workshops are linked to specific risks; others look at different industries, while others focus on BCM skills or processes.  Expert speakers present their thoughts, case studies and ideas followed by lively, insightful and thought-provoking debate.  Take a look at what’s coming up here

4.       Become an Affiliate member of the BCI – the perfect way to get started in BCM.  At just £75 per year and less if you are from a low income country, it offers you a wide range of benefits to help top up your knowledge in BCM and to quench your thirst for more, including access to the BCI’s Members Area which offers a wide range of top resources; networking opportunities with BCM professionals as well as all the BCI’s news updates and some valuable discounts on BCI products and services.

5.       If you are serious about becoming a BCM practitioner, then the BCI Certificate is an excellent starting point.  The BCI Certificate is a stand-alone credential leading to the CBCI – Certified by the Business Continuity Institute and with the right experience to back you up provides you with the right academic platform for Statutory membership of the BCI as well as further career progression, subject to evidence of experience.  There is also a BCI Diploma now available in Business Continuity that builds on the Certificate and is delivered in Partnership with New Bucks University.

6.       Training – One of the best ways to acquire more knowledge and understanding of any subject is of course to train.  The BCI has developed some great training opportunities and education packages that are delivered by licensed, world-class Training Partners around the globe. Training can be delivered online and on site, whichever format suits you best.

7.       Download a copy of the Good Practice Guidelines.  Although these are not designed for absolute beginners, they do provide some useful information on BCM and will help you to understand the scope of BCM and its implementation.  The Guidelines (pdf versions) are free to members and available to buy for non-members.  Hard copies are also available to buy, with special discounts form members.  You can even buy international version with German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese editions currently available.

8.       If you are thinking beyond you as an individual, but more about next steps for your organisation, then becoming a Corporate Partner of the BCI could be the right thing to do.  With different levels of Partnership available, each with a wide range of different benefits, including sponsorship opportunities and an online profile in the Virtual Exhibition area, this again is a great way to get more involved in BCM.  For more information contact Faye Leo.

9.       Join all the BCI social networks to stay up to date on the latest trends and developments in BCM and to get involved in some exciting debates and discussions:

a.       Follow us on Twitter @TheBCEye

b.       Join our new LinkedIn Group – Business Continuity Awareness led by the BCI, which aims to keep Business Continuity Awareness alive outside and beyond BCAW

10.   Last but not least, visit us online and take a look at all the amazing resources the BCI has to offer you – from new research reports, to white papers to videos available on our BCIplayer and much more.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

BCM Soft Skills - the dangers of collaboration and how strategic networking is different

Lee Glendon CBCI
Mentioning “soft skills” can prompt a variety of reactions from people, from an enthusiastic nodding of the head to a rather contorted smile.  However, research shows that among Top Management success is 75% about soft skills and only 25% technical ability.  This presents a real challenge for operationally-minded BCM practitioners in achieving and sustaining engagement with senior executives around the benefits of business continuity management programmes.

The C-Level Water Cooler Meeting Toolkit is an attempt to provide practitioners with a framework to support their engagement with senior executives.   The toolkit takes a three-pronged approach to tackling the challenge:  the first part profiles the relevant executives in your organisation – this profiling considers the background, interests, goals, and likely objections from these executives to engaging on BCM; the second part is to consider those elements or aspects of the BCM programme that fit with the interests and goals of the executives; and the third element outlines the soft skills – some 30 different skills - that are required to connect at a personal level with executives.

In Monday’s webinar on the toolkit (click here to replay>>) much of the discussion majored on the usefulness of soft skills. 

The BCI was supported by Phil Carter, a personal development coach, in crafting the content, and Phil shared his experiences of “managing upwards” on the webinar.  Phil explained that opportunities to meet with executives will not be frequent and “asking an executive to wait at the water cooler while you go and get your spreadsheet” needs to be replaced with an approach that gets you a follow up meeting because you are seen as being someone who thinks like them and can help them.  So messages to executives need to be structured, in terms of a short-, medium- and long-term game plan.

In expanding on one of the soft skills, “strategic networking”, Phil added that strategic networking is about being useful and offering value, he contrasted this with talking about “collaboration”, because collaboration could be seen by the other person as an attempt to take over what they do! 

Talking soft skills is a new area for the BCI, so we would welcome your thoughts and experiences to help inform how we develop the toolkit in the future, and as importantly how we should be looking to support the delivery of advice and training in soft skills development – are we looking at signposting, online webinars, 2-day training courses or one-to-one coaching?  The options are explored in the webinar.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Organisational Resilience - the big debate!

Lyndon Bird, FBCI
There are some who argue that Organisational Resilience will become a discipline in its own right in the future, with its own set of internationally recognised standards; while others argue organisational resilience is quite simply a goal for organisations to strive for, with important contributions from a range of related but distinct disciplines, including BCM.  A further view is that organisational resilience and BCM are actually one and the same discipline.    

So what do we mean by Organisational Resilience?
To start to answer this question, the BCI Partnership set up a Subgroup last year to look into organisational resilience.  Under the leadership of Dominic Cockram, the Group has been busily reviewing existing literature and developing its own point of view to stimulate thought and discussion this Business Continuity Awareness  Week.

Where should you start?
If this is a subject that interests you, then I would highly recommend you start by reading this excellent paper that not only brings you up to speed on the current stands of thought surrounding organisational resilience, but it also offers up a number of interesting models for consideration.

The big debate – have your say
Take this opportunity to have your say and share your points of view with the BCI through their companion survey, which you can access directly from the report once you’ve read it!   They need your input to help them to shape the way ahead - so go ahead, click on the link below and getyour voice heard in the big debate!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Have you ever asked the question what Business Continuity is really for?

Lyndon Bird FBCI
Lyndon Bird, FBCI gives his view.
Business Continuity Management (BCM) has been around for about a quarter of a century, so you could argue it is a bit late to start asking what it is really for.  The trouble is, with so many competing terminology and standards around, business continuity is threatening to get lost amongst the crowds!
The universally accepted purpose of business continuity is to “safeguard the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value-creating activities”.   It’s about building a framework for organisational resilience so that you are better prepared to deal with potential disruptions or threats when they happen. 
A lot of papers on Organizational Resilience imply that Resilience is a new overarching discipline within which BCM is a limited player, having little overlap with Crisis Management, Risk Mitigation or even Emergency Planning.
At a time when everywhere we seem to be talking about breaking down the silos, it would seem that the one discipline that IS a holistic management discipline is being forced out of the ring.   There are even some that recommend that BCM and Crisis Management be treated as separate disciplines.  This misunderstanding finds its roots in the belief that Crisis Management deals with unpredictable events that have a strategic impact on the business and BCM deals with predictable events that you can plan for.  But at what point does an incident become a crisis, and how do we tell the difference? 
Professor Dominic Elliot, Professor of Business Strategy and Business Continuity at Liverpool University once commented to me:  “when you look at the definition of BCM it is difficult to think of anything more strategic than brand, reputation and value protection”.   So why are businesses reluctant to adopt BCM at board level? 
On the surface BCM appears to be a complicated science with a proliferation of national and international standards attached to it.  Once you have a standard, you get compliance and then it is no longer strategic.  This is what is taking BCM out of the board room and out of the realms of strategy.
So what is BCM really for?
In my view it is certainly not just for meeting Governance, Risk and Compliance obligations.  If it is not strategic it has no meaningful future and those who view it as a tactical response to technical failures miss the point.  BCM is not Business Continuity Planning – that is just one output from the lifecycle.  Its real value is providing an organisation with the capability and confidence to maintain ‘Business As Usual’ regardless of the external circumstances in which it might find itself.
If you would like to hear more about how you can get started with BCM, then tune into Lyndon’s live webinar session on Tuesday, 20th March 2012 at 13:00.  To register click here  Attendance is free.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Lessons Learned from the 2011 Earthquakes

Donna Monkhouse
We all remember the Great East Japan and New Zealand Christchurch earthquakes that reverberated through the World News headlines in 2011 and whose devastating impact both socially and economically was widely reported on. 

The widespread destabilisation of supply chains that followed in its aftermath prompted extensive discussion on supply chain resilience.   Did the “just in time” approach that many organisations seem to have adopted prove its worth or do organisations need to go back to having buffer stocks in place in order to be able to ride such tempestuous storms? 

A lot of organisations' supply chains were heavily impacted by the earthquakes.  But the question is what lessons have they learned and how has the impact of “then” changed the way they deal with disruptions “now”?  What changes, if any, have they made to their supply chain strategy? 

The BCI have followed up with some of these organisations to find out just what changes they have made, if any, to the way they deal with major and minor disruptions as a result of lessons learned.  The resulting report that has just been released summarises the key outcomes of the survey.   The report looks at things like the recovery process; the time it took for organisations to get back up and running; and whether they have since reviewed their supply chain strategy.  The report ends with some interesting observations and conclusions that provide some insightful food for thought.   You can take a look at it here

Live Debate
There is also a live webinar running on Wednesday, 20th March 2012 as part of Business Continuity Awareness Week 2012 that takes a look at lessons learned from earthquakes, in particular with reference to mitigation measures and the impact on non-structural elements.  Follow this link to register to attend (attendance is free). 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Making Sense of Business Continuity Management

Donna Monkhouse
What better way to kick start The BC Eye blog than with a quick overview of what Business Continuity Management is all about.
In a nutshell, it is about effective management of a crisis or incident; not ‘crisis management’ as in “let’s deal with it when it happens”, but careful, thoughtful forward planning that covers all the bases ahead of time. 

It’s about looking at those parts of your business that you simply cannot afford to lose and planning how to manage these in the event of an incident or crisis; it’s about having a managed framework to enable you to get your business back up and running as quickly and as efficiently as possible with the minimum disruption when the infamous “bombshell” hits home.    Remember, delays in recovery could cost you your business - competitors are just waiting on the side-lines ready to fill the gap that a disaster could create if you drop out of the loop, albeit temporarily, and it won’t help customer confidence either.

It doesn’t matter what size your organisation is – big or small – or which sector you are operating in, Business Continuity is something you should all be thinking about.  But, to be successful, it needs to be implemented from the top down, right across the whole organisation. Everyone needs to take ownership for it to work, which of course in turn means that everyone needs to understand what it is and what their role is.

Where can you find out more?

Well there are lots of points of reference, but I think one of the best opportunities around at the moment to find out more about Business Continuity Awareness is the Business Continuity Awareness Week that runs 19th – 23rd March 2012.  This annual event aims to increase the awareness and understanding of business continuity across the globe.   Boasting a wide range of FREE activities from events to webinars; research to an online crisis simulation game, it is definitely the place to go to get in the know!