Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Is Business Continuity Emotionally Intelligent?

Dr Noreen Tehrani
Businesses do not have the best track record in terms of survival.  Firstly, they are a relatively recent invention with the first commercial organisations being introduced around 500 years ago.  Secondly, they are not particularly robust compared to the average human being.  The average life expectancy for a multinational corporation is 40 and 50 years (Bloomberg Businessweek, 2012) whilst the life expectancy of someone living in the UK is over 75 years (and rising).  It would seem that anyone working in business continuity has their work cut out if they are to make any inroads to what appears to be a hopeless case of premature organisational senility.

Currently, much of the emphasis in business continuity is on keeping the systems running, ensuring the flow of materials, resources and information, protecting assets and meeting sales.  Whilst this is undoubtedly important to the day to day functioning of business it cannot be the whole story.  Like people, organisations need to function within a social and cultural setting and have to respond sensitively to that environment if they are to gain the trust and support of their workforce and the wider community.  Corporate social responsibility is not only a nice thing to do but when it is actively involved in engaging with environmental and social issues can increase business sustainability which in terms of business longevity is essential (Moss-Kanter, 2011).

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Business Continuity Planning - something just for the big global corporates?

Lyndon Bird FBCI
A recent survey undertaken in New Zealand by Massey University revealed that less than 10% of SMEs have a business continuity plan in place despite the fact that over 40% of them have experienced a crisis in the last five years.  The survey found a high degree of vulnerability in SMEs across New Zealand and concluded with a recommendation for a national programme to address this gap.  But it is not just SMEs in New Zealand that need to consider business continuity planning.

If we widen our perspective and take a look at the global picture, we discover that despite the fact that more than 60% of all organisations experience up to 10 disruptions every year (BCI Global Survey 2011: the business case for BCM), less than 50% has solid business continuity arrangements in place.   And when you consider the potential financial implications of disruptions – on average 38% of businesses stand to lose more than $1M USD if a disruption causes a downtime exceeding 72 hours – then you start to appreciate the potential costs of not practising good BCM. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

COSMOTE invests in BCM culture enhancement via BCAW 2012

It really is quite important for everyone to realise that simply having a sound Business Continuity Management System (BCMS) in place and maybe a BS25999 certificate as robust evidence that your BCM arrangements are well set and maintained, is not necessarily enough.

Learning to manage the expectations of the board, constantly having to communicate what BCM does and what it doesn’t do, explaining the value or not of a certificate to an accredited organisation, often gives you the chance to really get to know the inner bits of the system you very efficiently (hopefully) managed to build, and provides valuable insights into your employee culture and risk awareness mindset.
The Business Continuity Institute (BCI) has been organising for some years now the international Business Continuity Awareness week, an annual event, which aims to raise business continuity awareness within an organisation and is a great initiative to support the awareness raising activities of a BCM Manager.  BCAW provides a resourceful platform to help embed business continuity into an organisation and offers tailor-made solutions to support the delivery of awareness raising activities within organisations to help educate people on Business Continuity, Operational Risk Management, and Incident Consequence Management as well as in a general sense, Resilience.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The HR Checklist for enterprise-wide business continuity plans

Lee Glendon CBCI
Many aspects of dealing with the human side of major disruption are already covered through health and safety and crisis management procedures; however, the link between successfully dealing with these issues and business continuity objectives are often less clear. The following table details a list of questions to help understand how comprehensive your organisation’s thinking is around the subject.

  • Does your plan require cross-training of staff in critical areas?
  • Do you review people-related policies to consider whether they will hold up during a crisis?
  • Is succession planning evident in the plan?
  • Are there specific details within the plans, for example, dealing with absence levels from 15% to 50%?
  • Is it clear how communication with staff will be handled? Have messages already been written for each stage of the crisis?
  • If you are letting staff go, are you auditing the skills that are being lost against critical processes or assets?
  • Do you have counselling arrangements in place to provide help for staff in the aftermath of an incident?
  • Have you considered how you will deal with staff with special needs requirements at any disaster recovery centre or alternative site?
  • Are you confident that all staff contact data, including next of kin, is current?
  • Do your exercises go beyond a regular fire drill evacuation?
  • Is HR involved in the organisation’s crisis management team?
  • Does your plan cover common people-related impacts, such as high and extended levels of absence?
  • Do you have sufficient flexibility in contracts to deal with the need for change of location, extended working hours or other changes to working terms and conditions?
  • Do you have a process for locating staff to ensure that they are safe?
  • Have you reviewed your travel policy to accommodate the need for flexibility during and after an incident?
  • Do you regularly involve and brief staff on the organisation’s business continuity plans?
  • Is there a business continuity champion within the HR function?
  • Have you surveyed staff on their expectations of the company’s response to a crisis?
  • Do you have a staff information line or HR incident line?
  • Do you have established methods for monitoring threats and receiving government advice, for example, for pandemics?
  • Have your response plans considered duty of care and reputational implications?
  • Is there a consistent HR approach across all service areas or lines of business?

Give yourself one point for each area covered in your plan. Deduct one point if it is absent and score zero if you don’t know! How did you score overall?

0–15 points:             More thinking to be done.
16–20 points:           Good position to push towards excellence.
20+ points:               Excellent coverage of the issues

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Going with a BANG!

Lorraine Darke, Executive Director BCI
Dear Reader

Please feel proud as we share with you the BCI’s BANG Award for the Corniest Cliché. Our humble blog – BCEye - is the recipient of this Award and we are thrilled.

Thrilled that since our launch a month ago thousands of you have taken the time to read our observations on business, BCM and the BCI. Thanks to the BCI London Forum for recognising BCEye, corny or not, as all publicity is good publicity. We’ve blogged on international standards, virtual workshops, due diligence, DRJ, organisational resilience and more with much more to come.

This 2012 BANG Award sits proudly alongside our 2011 Award (also for Corniest Cliché) and we already have out thinking caps on to ensure that we can make it a hat trick for 2013.
Sad to note, however, that the 2012 Award is smaller than the 2011 Award and we hope this doesn’t reflect that BANG will be going out with a whimper.

If you would like to become part of our blogging community please contact

The meaning of letters in the world of business continuity

Donna Monkhouse - Your BC Eye
AMBCI, CBCI, FBCI all sounds impressive, but what exactly are you getting for your money when you recruit a qualified BCM professional with these letters after their name?

As a newcomer to the BCI and the world of business continuity, part of my company induction was spent with the membership team, and it was here that I was subject to an avalanche of acronyms that engulfed me with so much confusion that it threatened to suffocate 'my little grey cells' as they fought to digest and assimilate the coded messages that were winging their way to me.  This is my attempt to cut through the letters and shed some light on what these all stand for from a practical point of view.  

My key question is: what sort of skills and competencies can you expect if you hire an MBCI or FBCI etc. into your business?

Well let’s begin at the beginning with Affiliate Membership just because it seems like a good place to start.   For someone who is genuinely interested in business continuity or is possibly considering embarking on a career as a BCM practitioner, this is the best starting point.  Affiliates quite often acquire their Affiliate Membership to the BCI as a spin off from attendance at a relevant training course.   They may well have experience in BCM, but generally speaking they are not  yet qualified enough to take the examination that leads to statutory membership and any experience they may have is usually not certified. 

Now let’s move on to the different variations on a theme of the ‘BCI’s.  Anyone with the letters ‘BCI’ in their title, be it CBCI, MBCI or AMBCI or indeed FBCI all have some knowledge and competence across six key skills areas.  How much will depend on a variety of factors, which I will explain later.

So what are these key skills?

1.     BCM Policy and Programme Management, which means that they will have the skills and knowledge to establish appropriate policies and procedures for BCM in your organisation as well as set up, implement and manage a BCM Programme. 

2.     Embedding BCM in the Organisation’s Culture, which means they will be able to create a programme of activities that will help raise awareness of BCM with your staff and thus achieve corporate buy-in to BCM, which is critical if it is going to work.

3.     Understanding the Organisation, which means they are able to carry out a Business Impact Analysis, including threat evaluation risk assessments and mitigation measures. 

4.      Determining Business Continuity Strategy, which is in itself self-explanatory really.

5.     Developing and Implementing a BCM Response, which covers things like emergency response procedures, business continuity planning, including recovery and communication with both internal and external stakeholders.

6.     Exercising, Maintaining and Reviewing BCM, which means that they will be familiar with planning and coordinating walkthroughs and exercises to ensure your staff knows what to do when disaster strikes.

These are often referred to as the ‘basic skills of business continuity’.  However, how much experience and knowledge your people will have, how skilled and competent they will be, will depend on a variety of factors, including the number of years of practical experience they are able to evidence. 

The next step on the business continuity ladder is the CBCI, the Certificate of the BCI.  Individuals who hold this certificate are qualified across all of the six skills areas in line with the Good Practice Guidelines.  They may have some practical working experience in the field, but their experience hasn’t been officially assessed or proven by the BCI.

Moving onto our Associate Members (AMBCI), this is someone who too is qualified in the basic skills of business continuity, but unlike the CBCI they do have proven practical workplace experience (at least one year to be precise) in a business continuity role, which has been properly assessed.  

The ‘Specialist’ on the other hand, that is our SBCI, is the exception to the six skills rule.   As the title implies they tend to be specialists in one particular area only.  They may well have some knowledge across the six core skills, but generally speaking they are only master of one.  In order to achieve ‘Specialist’ status, you need to have worked in that area in that capacity.  Specialists have at least 2 years’ proven experience and assessed practical workplace experience in their area of specialism.  They will also either hold some form of certification from a professional body that is relevant to their specialism or be a member of a relevant professional body.

As we move further up the ‘food chain’ to the level of MBCI, that is Member with a capital ‘M’ as I was told by our Membership Manager, we once again have an individual who is certified in the basics of business continuity, but is proven to be more experienced with at least three’ years’ practical working experience in a business continuity role.  This is where we start to see some real value add to the organisation in terms of the length and breadth of the skills and competencies they can bring to the table. 

And finally to the crème de la crème, FBCI – this lovely “fellow” simply has it all - at least six years’ proven and assessed practical workplace experience in a Business Continuity role; at least two years’ membership with the BCI at either SBCI or MBCI level, as well as enjoying a reputation as a Thought Leader in BCM either through the publication of his/her work in one of the leading industry journals or as an active contributor to the BCI.   Fellows are a rare breed and in fact there are only 108 FBCIs out of a total of just over 7,000 BCI members, so pretty much an elitist group.

And finally, we need to understand how easy or not it is to get from one level to the other.  It is not, as it may seem an automatic progression, but behind it sits a rigorous assessment process that tests and proves the skills, knowledge and competencies of all individuals that wish to move up through the BCI Membership ranks.

So next time you are looking to recruit a BCM professional, remember your letters and know that you are getting technically competent and quality assured experts!