Business Continuity, R.I.P.?

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The reports of the death of the field of business continuity have been greatly overstated. But those of us who work in it do have to raise our performance in a few critical areas.

For some time, reports predicting the imminent demise of the field of business continuity have been a staple of industry publications and gatherings.

The most prominent of these have been the manifesto and book written by David Lindstedt and Mark Armour. For an interesting summary and review of their work, check out this article by Charlie Maclean Bristol on BC Training.

Bristol has criticisms of their approach, but he has also expressed doubts about the long-term viability of business continuity as a profession.

I think business continuity is entitled to say, as Mark Twain did, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Business continuity will go away when all influential executives stop caring about the well-being of their organizations and the world loses its capacity to deliver unpleasant surprises. Neither of these things is going to happen very soon.

Business continuity, under one name or another, will be with us as long as humans have the ability to build anything more complex than a hut.

The issue is not whether business continuity will continue, it’s how those of us working in it can improve our methods and practices so that we are doing the best job of protecting our organizations and delivering value for money.

Even if they are overstating the case, the writers make many good points about the shortcomings of contemporary business continuity. (Drawing attention to them might have been their main goal all along.)

Four of the areas commonly mentioned as weak spots in the modern practice of business continuity are: the Business Impact Analysis (BIA), the failure of the BCM team to communicate persuasively with senior management, the inability to develop meaningful metrics, and an overall failure to evolve as a field.

I agree that these areas are problems. But I think we should avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

My views won’t come as a surprise to regular readers of this blog. I frequently write about the need for BCM practitioners to do better in these areas and share my suggestions for how they can do so.

Would it be worthwhile to collect these posts in one place? . . . Well, here they are.

These are my thoughts on where BC needs to go in the future if it is to stay relevant, carry out its mission, and realize its potential as a field.

Think of these as my suggestions on how we can get rid of the bathwater and keep the baby.

THE BUSINESS IMPACT ANALYSIS

The critics are right that the BIA has lost its way. In these posts, I analyzed the problem and gave suggestions on how we can do better:

METRICS

I think the critics are right when they say most BCM programs make insufficient use of the right kind of metrics. I feel so strongly about the subject that I created a software suite and founded a company with metrics at the heart of its mission. Here are some of our recent posts that look at the wrong and right ways to use metrics in business continuity:

MANAGEMENT

I think that a lack of understanding between BCM teams and senior management is a real problem. What makes this issue uniquely challenging is, it isn’t about data or technology, it’s about human relations. I looked at the problems and suggested some solutions in these recent posts:

INNOVATION

Lastly, most critics of contemporary BC complain that the field has been treading water while the rest of business is undergoing swift change. I think this exactly right. But there are some interesting thought trends out there that have the potential to give our field new life. I discussed them in these recent posts:

CONCLUSION

The field of business continuity has its challenges, but the solution is not to eliminate it. The idea is absurd as long as we have organizations that need protecting in an unstable and unpredictable world. The solution is to identify the problems and set about, with maturity and resolution, trying to fix them.

FURTHER READING

For more on this and other hot topics in Business Continuity and IT/Disaster Recovery, check out these recent posts from BCMMETRICS and MHA Consulting:

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