Have you ever been driving on the highway and seen a bus go by with the name of an extremely distant city showing on the destination board? Los Angeles … San Francisco … New York City …
I certainly have, and I’m always impressed by how it sets the bus apart from all the other traffic driving along on the freeway. Everyone else is just bustling along, but when you see a bus saying “New York City” above the windshield, you know that driver knows exactly where he is going. Whatever winds blow across the highway, and no matter what little problems might come up, that bus and driver are focused 100 percent on getting to New York, and when they pass you by and continue on out of sight, you can have a high degree of confidence that they will make it there.
Here’s a question for you? Does your business continuity management program have a destination sign in the front window? Or are you just another motorist bustling along at the whim of the winds?
You can guess where I come down on this. I am such a firm believer in programs’ performing a self-assessment and establishing not only where they are but also where they would like to go, and in what time frame.
In my ebook, 10 Keys to a Peak-Performing BCM Program, available for free download here, I use the metaphor of a roadmap, which is another way of saying the same thing. (See Chapter 7: Build a Roadmap to Success.)
Whatever you call it, I can’t state strongly enough the importance for the effectiveness and long-term viability of your BCM program of your determining a destination for that program, working out the steps you need to take to reach it, and fitting those steps to a rough timeline showing when you intend to accomplish them.
There is plenty of wiggle room in here for each organization to choose an approach that meshes with their culture.
Your BCM roadmap can be something you fit on a single sheet of paper, such as the example below. As you can see, this example divides the year into four quarters and the work to be done by BCM program topic areas. In each cell within the table, you would then list what tasks must be accomplished by that time period in that subject area.
That’s the one-page BCM roadmap, and those work great. It shows you at a glance what you need to do and when you should do it by.
However, it’s not the only way to do it. Some large organizations I’ve worked with take a much more detailed, granular approach to their roadmapping. Some use special planning software and even have employees whose main job responsibility is using that software to plan for the future of the BCM program. To which I say: I love it. Go for it. You are doing your program and organization so much good by thinking carefully about where you would like to end up at a certain point in the future and how to get there.
I come back to the main point: However you do it, it’s just so important that you determine where you are going, work out the steps needed to get there, and rough out when the various steps should be accomplished.
Are you wondering about the timing of these activities? Good. These are important considerations.
In my experience, a method that works well is to finalize the roadmap in the fourth quarter of the year for the following year. Typically, as I mention in the ebook , we like a BCM roadmap to represent the deliverables and actions over a 12-month period, broken into quarters. Spans of six months, or as many as 24 months, can also work well, depending on the needs of your organization.
Why is a roadmap so important? By incorporating an explicit element of time, roadmaps create deadlines and urgency, making it much more likely that the things on your BCM program to-do list will actually get done. They can also:
- Reveal gaps in product and technology plans.
- Provide great benefit in helping the organization make investment decisions.
- Create constructive pressure that helps the team focus its efforts and accomplish its goals.
- Clearly explain to management where the BCM program is going.
Roadmapping strengthens the BCM team by building a common understanding and shared ownership of the plan, and by incorporating ideas and insights from all team members.
For guidance on what you need to create a roadmap and how to go about building one, I encourage you to have a look at 10 Keys. (The chapter on roadmapping starts on p. 24.)
Whatever the level of detail you choose to include in your roadmap, having one will help your organization immeasurably.
Wouldn’t it be nice if, when people encounter you and your program, they get the same feeling as you do when you encounter a bus on the highway saying Dallas or Miami or whatever: Wow, they have a long ways to go yet, but it’s obvious they know exactly where they’re going and something tells me they are going to make it there.