Yes, I realize that the last thing we need in Business Continuity Planning practices is another acronym, but, hey, what’s the fun in writing a blog if you can’t cause trouble? So here goes – another BCP acronym …
I have been stating for a while now, that the BCP Methodology needs to be revisited. I think that the tried and true practice of conducting BIAs is a bit flawed. In practice, I think, the methodology attacks middle management and department level areas in the organization without first establishing corporate-wide and senior level objectives for business during a crisis. When we ask people to establish RTOs and RPOs (more of those lovely acronyms – see the chart below) what are they basing their answers on? When we ask for impacts of being down, to set those recovery objectives, what business objectives are they being designed to meet?
I think that the BCP Methodology needs to add a step in the beginning of our analyses in which we establish – are you ready for it, here it comes, the new acronym, in three, two, one – our ABOs, Adjusted Business Objectives. I think part of the fallacy in our current process is that RTOs (or MADs if you prefer that acronym) are set with the assumption that the company is still aiming to hit its established business objectives for the year. And, I think that is wrong. During times of crisis, I think management’s expectations of what the company should achieve are adjusted. During times of crisis, we may not have the same Income Targets, Profit Targets, Sales Targets, Margin Targets, Production Targets, etc.
Every company establishes business objectives for the year – assuming we operate in a normal business environment. Once that “normal” environment is compromised due to a disaster, I think those business objectives get adjusted. And, I think it is important to relay that information to the management team that is responding to our BIA questions. We should be asking what the critical timeframes are for conducting business functions given we need to meet these Adjusted Business Objectives or ABOs.
Department objectives are, I hope, based on meeting the overall corporate objectives. Once we know our ABOs we can translate that down to the department level and establish more meaningful RTOs, RPOs, MADs and what have yous.
The real challenge here is, however, getting senior management involved enough in the process to establish these ABOs. One reason I think we don’t do that today is because it is much easier beginning the process with middle management. The savvy manager, however, I think, is the one that asks, “During a time of crisis, what are my department’s objectives? What is senior management expecting us to get done throughout the crisis period?”
So, there it is, a new BCP acronym – ABOs – just what we needed … NOT!