Friday, 24 August 2012

BCI Gifted Grades and Awards

Steve Mellish FBCI
The BCI has two main ways in which we can recognise those individuals and organisations that go above and beyond the call of duty.

The Institute’s Gifted Grades programme was introduced in 2009 to recognise individuals who have contributed significantly to the development of the Institute and/or the BCM industry.  Any BCI member is invited to nominate another member, or non-member, who has truly added to the growth of the discipline or the BCI.  
Four categories are available within Gifted Grades: Honorary Fellowships; Honorary Memberships; Achievement Awards and Merit Awards – further details on nomination criteria can be found here

Recent recipients of Honorary Fellowships include:  

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

I must choose my words with care...

Ian Charters FBCI
English is a fascinating language with many more words in common usage than other European languages and many have multiple meanings where only the context can give a clue as to which meaning was intended.  Consider the newspaper headline “Bus on fire - passengers alight” ; do we know the outcome of that story?

When writing Standards it is vital to avoid this ambiguity, so the guidance to standards writers is to explain concepts using the commonly accepted meaning of words and to avoid technical terms (leaving the accompanying Guidance document to relate the concepts to the industry terms).  However, this can still lead to ambiguity when communicating outside the business continuity realm, so it is imperative to achieve clarity of meaning in discussions with your colleagues.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Business Continuity – not just for big companies and big events!

Lyndon Bird FBCI
The London Olympics is now over and we are still coming to terms with its success. Those who had predicted chaos and possibly carnage have been proven wrong.  Every few years an event or threat seems to emerge that gets everyone’s attention. Sometimes it is an esoteric threat that few understand like the millennium bug; sometimes it something that might harm us personally like a pandemic; sometimes it is a massive event that might go dramatically wrong in innumerable ways. The odd thing is that the predictions of doom and destruction thankfully never seem to manifest themselves.

Now this is not being complacent, in fact just the reverse. The positive message about this is that however complicated, large or frightening a threat seems to be it can usually be mitigated perfectly well by good planning, good organisation and plenty of practice. The Olympics did not just happen at random, the organisers knew the dates and schedules for years, they had the brainpower and expertise of leading experts from around the world to call on, and they had time to test and rehearse everything until it was perfect.

The problem most organisations face in dealing with Business Continuity, however, is precisely the reverse of such high profile threats. If something that is totally unpredictable happens at a random time and causes large losses of property, assets or even lives what can you do to protect yourself or your organisation? Unlike the millennium bug or the Olympics you have no idea what the real threat is or when it could show itself. Business Continuity Management (BCM) addresses this paradox by concentrating on impacts rather than causes. It is impossible to identify every threat faced by an organisation or the exact way in which even predictable threats like fire or flooding will affect different businesses or individuals.

However, it is possible to identify what products or services must be delivered in what timeframes, what resources need to be in place to allow that to happen and how an organisation needs to be ready to deal rapidly with any crisis regardless of cause. For example, those organisations that had planned for staff shortages during a possible pandemic already had the key components for their Olympic plan. The threat during a pandemic was that staff would be too ill to come to work; the threat during the Olympics was that they simply couldn’t get to work because of travel difficulties. However the BCM question was the same:  “how do we continue our critical activities with low staff levels in the office?” Concentrating on impacts, rather than threats is at the heart of BCM.

The UK Cabinet Office believes that this message is one that small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) need to hear and heed. They claim that SMEs account for 99.9% of all private sector enterprises, 59.4% of private sector employment and 50.1% of private sector turnover. Without a resilient SME sector the UK is unlikely to kick start the economy anytime soon. BCM will not achieve this on its own accord but it is a core component to security, longevity and success for any organisation.

The UK had a great Olympics by making the right decisions, plans and provisions well in advance. Just because you cannot predict the exact nature of a threat doesn’t mean you cannot do the same by concentrating on what is really important for you to accomplish - regardless of the external circumstances you find yourselves in.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Resilience in the Supply Chain - Tips for how to improve BCM

Deborah Higgins MBCI
Achieving resilience in the supply chain is something all organizations aspire to. We still have a long way to go, and it may be that increasing or improving resilience in the supply chain is a more realistic goal than achieving resilience.

According to the Business Continuity Institute's recent Horizon Scan Survey published in January of this year, among the top threats dominating the horizon scanning of BC professionals around the world are unplanned IT and telecom outages, data breaches, adverse weather and interruption to utility supply. Clearly such disruptions have far reaching consequences on an organization, but specifically in the supply chain, where effectively the impact is multiplied.

In a major disaster, employees are impacted personally and their family comes first, not the business.  

A recent report by Zurich Municipal puts supply chain failure as the third major incident risk faced today and yet found misplaced confidence in supply chain risks among public sector leaders. It cannot be exclusively a public sector leader problem.

Supply chain disruptions have led to a loss of productivity for almost half of businesses surveyed in the latest BCI Annual Supply Chain Resilience Survey. In a follow-up report on global supply chain resilience, based on interviews with organizations whose supply chains were disrupted by the Great East Japan and Christchurch, New Zealand earthquakes in 2011, the lessons learned have prompted significant changes in supply chain strategies. For one organization the key change was to engage with alternative suppliers. For another it was to undertake a much more detailed Business Impact Analysis to gain a better understanding of what impacts their supply chain, people being one of the greatest factors. In a major disaster, employees are impacted personally and their family comes first, not the business, and organizations have learned that this must be reflected in their business continuity arrangements.

Increasingly complex supply chains and dependencies on ICT, leaner management processes, sole/multi-source suppliers and just-in-time delivery methods can make the goal of supply chain resilience seem impossible to achieve. Whether we are dependent on a supply chain or part of a supply chain, we are all vulnerable to disruptions beyond our control.
Hints and Tips
What can we do to work towards achieving our supply chain resilience? Here are some tips:
  1. Think strategically about managing risk within the supply chain and across partners. Having business continuity management at board level will ensure that a comprehensive approach is taken to business resilience. BCM provides the link between the organization's objectives, the risks it agrees to take and the measures needed to manage the resulting vulnerabilities.
  2. Understand our organization by carrying out a Business Impact Analysis to ensure that we identify those key suppliers that deliver our products and services. Using BCM techniques will identify key suppliers by the part they play in our organization's critical processes, activities, our assets and resources.
  3. Prioritize our key suppliers (typically between 1 and 5%) and base this prioritization on the information collected through the Business Impact Analysis rather than how much is spent with them or who the main threats are.
  4. Understand the immediate impact of a disruption and the longer term consequences to stakeholder confidence and reputation arising from a supply chain failure. The media and stakeholders will have little sympathy for our situation if we did not plan for the consequences of a supply chain failure. We may not be able to do anything about the failure of a supplier, but we can plan for the consequences of it.
  5. Have an incident management plan in place to respond to the immediate impact of a supply chain disruption as part of our BCM arrangements. Ensure the incident management team is well rehearsed.
  6. Test and exercise our BCM arrangements to include supply chain failure scenarios. Involve all parts of the business to ensure all potentially impacted areas are considered.
  7. Seek adequate assurance from our suppliers, not just asking if they have a BC plan. Examine whether it is fit for purpose and consider how and if it fits with our own organization's recovery objectives.
  8. Collaborate with and build good relationships with key suppliers and support each other through the BCM process, including planning activities and exercises to improve resilience.
It is when BCM techniques are applied to managing the supply chain that a better understanding of the risks, and how we can mitigate these risks, makes the goal of achieving resilience in the supply chain a more realistic one.

If you are interested in taking part in The BCI's 4th annual Supply Chain Resilience Survey supported by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS), Zurich and DHL Supply Chain, we would greatly welcome your input.

Also if you are interested in reading the Zurich Municipal report referred to in this blog or the BCI's Horizon Scan 2012 report, please visit our website: