Wednesday, July 8, 2009

When Business Continuity isn't


An ad for a "Senior Practice Consultant - Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery (Charleston, West Virginia)" caught my eye since I spent nearly a year in that town and enjoyed almost every minute of it.

The problem for a Business Continuity practitioner is that this is not Business Continuity.

The ad goes on to explain that "the position develops, manages and articulates Disaster Recovery/High Availability (DR/HA) solutions based on a client's strategic business and technical requirements for the Managed Availability Services (MAS) offering."

Nothing wrong with that, except it is NOT "Business Continuity."

The ad listed desired skills:

Customer focus and relationship management skills, strong interpersonal skills

Strong technical, organizational and leadership skills for DR/HA technologies

Excellent verbal and written communications skills, ability to write for both technical and senior manager levels

Strong results orientation with attention to detail and quality of deliverables

Program and project management skills, PMI certification a plus

Experience with development of enterprise level DR/HA test plans

Education and experience rated two lines:

Education Required: Bachelors (Business/Computer Science), Masters a plus

Experience Required: 3-6 years total, at least half with exposure to DR/HA programs

The ideal candidate will be a DR salesman with a technical background.

I have no objection to calling the job what it is: Disaster Recovery/High Availability Senior Practice Consultant.

I DO object to the advertiser suggesting that this has any connection to Business Continuity; at best it may be one-focus IT continuity.

What's my problem with this advertiser playing fast and loose with a couple of words? The beef is that its customers will think they have "business continuity" and that "business continuity" begins and ends behind the data center doors.

When a real Business Continuity practitioner proposes a true Business Continuity project or program, the response is "We have business continuity; we're paying ZXY Company n thousands a year to provide it."

Now the thing about Charleston West Virginia is that Disaster Recovery/High Availability doesn't cut it.

Besides the lovely Kanawha River flowing through town, Charleston's outskirts host several major chemical plants.

If one of those plants has an "accident," it won't only be an IT problem, it will be a personnel and facilities problem; it will be a "stay at home with the windows closed" or a "shelter-in-place" problem. Could it happen?

The local government thinks so; that's why bus sideboard advertisements tell residents and visitors what to do when the siren sounds, and that's why there are sirens to sound.

There are some other some other things that can go "bump in the night" (and daytime, too), but the main "global" threat comes from the chemical plants, both the big legal variety and the "in-the-garage meth labs" that plague the area. (Thanks to Charleston, I learned about Early Warning Radios.)

Call a spade a spade (and not a shovel) and call D/R D/R; it is not Business Continuity. Like spades and shovels, there is a difference.

John Glenn, MBCI
Enterprise Risk Management/Business Continuity practitioner
Ft. Lauderdale FL
JohnGlennMBCI @ gmail dot com

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