Tag Archive for safe harbor

Everyone Has a Business Continuity Plan

Although, as discussed in my previous blog, the terminology is sometimes different, business continuity planning professionals follow a pretty standard, cyclical planning methodology as depicted in this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_continuity_planning

Even though the methodology is cyclical, first time planners need a starting point and, working under the assumption that the organization they are planning for has no plan in place, they begin in the Analysis Phase.  I suggest that this is a mistake.

Every organization has a business continuity plan – it’s just that some of them have not formalized, approved or documented their plans.  For many of these organizations, by default, their business continuity plan is to respond to the disaster ad hoc and figure out what to do during the crisis.

I believe that planners can get a quicker start in the planning process and stronger management buy in for the need to strengthen and improve their business continuity plans (or crisis management, or disaster recovery, or emergency response plans) if you start the methodology at the testing phase.

By first performing a Table Top Exercise to discuss, with the management teams, how the organization would respond to a business interruption event today, you will quickly understand the planning objectives, assumptions and expectations of the management team.

Through my years of experience I have witnessed, time and time again, the frustration of management teams after months and months of analysis to identify risks, conduct business impact analysis and define recovery requirements, and yet no one has put together the baseline plan of who calls who when the alarms go off.

I think planners have become a victim of our own methodology and have forgotten the importance of first providing a simple baseline response plan before we try to put in the perfect business continuity plan.  I think it is like putting together a football team and designing the playbook with intricate blocking schematics, pass patterns, trick plays, etc., with never teaching the basic football techniques.

Assume a plan exists.  Test that plan and allow your business partner, in the process, to discover the weaknesses and fallacies of this plan and lack of documentation to support it, so that they now better understand the need for planning analysis and we better understand their immediate concerns.

Business Continuity Blog

Welcome to the Safe Harbor Consulting Business Continuity Blog.

I will utilize this blog to discuss, what I hope is, timely and relevant business continuity, disaster recovery, crisis management, emergency response … issues, problems and concerns.

The first thought that comes to mind as I struggle with the wording of my very first blog sentence is to figure out the right label for what it is we do.  All of those terms that I used in the sentence above are thrown out by business continuity professionals sometimes as synonymous terms and sometimes as terms to differentiate between plans and programs with distinct and unique goals and objectives.

How the heck are we to expect executives and management to understand what it is we do when we can’t even agree amongst ourselves how to label these programs?

  • What is the difference between Business Continuity Plans and Contingency Plans?
  • What is the difference between Emergency Response Plans and Crisis Management Plans?
  • What is the difference between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery?

And on and on and on.

Now I know you all probably have definite answers to those questions – but, are your answers all the same?  And, therein lies the problem.

I am not going to pretend to have the absolute answer to these questions, just merely wish to point out that this inconsistent use of terminology and jargon is an issue that all business continuity professionals must be aware of.  I have often seen planning professionals and their business partners using the same terms but with very different assumptions about what those terms mean, resulting in huge disconnects between what the business community wanted and what the planning professional delivered.

I often spend a lot of time asking my clients to define what those terms mean to them so I can make sure we develop the right programs.  I do not care that my clients conform to my language – just that I create and implement programs that succinctly meet their expectations.

Over time, I think these blogs will begin to define how I usually use these terms and I hope that I do not add to the confusion in the process.

I invite all of you to participate along with me in this forum by adding your comments and thoughts along with mine.

I am looking forward to the challenge and experience of keeping this blog active, relevant and full of timely information and in making it worth your while to come visit us on a routine basis.


Joe Flach, CEO, Safe Harbor Consulting