Tuesday, June 1, 2010

ERM-BC-COOP: Kaleidoscope


I subscribe to Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts); the search string is "business continuity."

Google Alerts is a very handy tool, although it isn't perfect - other than you and me, what/who is? - it sometimes returns hits for "business" without "continuity" and sometimes "continuity" sans "business." But, all-in-all, it does a commendable job.

What I notice is that "business continuity" is many different things to many different people. A kaleidoscope of opinions.

There is "business continuity" for

  • IT (of course)

  • telecom

  • email

  • key personnel insurance

  • compliance/privacy

and more.

In itself, the kaleidoscope approach isn't too bad - each niche is inhabited by leading, if not bleeding, edge vendors.

The PROBLEM is that none of the above is business continuity.

It is NICHE continuity, and niche continuity is anything but "business continuity."

What I have said, repeatedly, is that if you don't protect the business - the PROFIT CENTERS - you may as well go home. If the profit centers don't/can't turn a profit, the services on which the profit centers depend cannot be funded. No business means layoffs, and layoffs mean less users for IT and telecom and email and ...

By the way, "business continuity" may be a misnomer for some. Charities, governments, non-profits (intentional or otherwise) - ALL are businesses, but many don't see them that way and ignore business continuity as a survival requirement. They don't (care to) realize that donors may withhold their money, that governments can - if the taxpayers scream loudly enough - cancel funding, and that clients can look elsewhere for similar services, taking away an organization's raison d'être.

While I preach "mini plans for functional units," I also wave the flag for enterprise planning. All organizations have a myriad of interdependences - they make a spider's web look simple - and all those internal and external interdependencies must be identified and the associated risks/threats addressed.

When I create a plan I try - I'm a consultant and often am limited by client constraints - to create a complete, truly enterprise plan, one that addresses all the niche areas and many more (e.g., money vendors, clients, competition).

I really like kaleidoscopes. I liked them as a child and I like them as an adult. They range, like a business continuity plan, from the simple, cardboard tube variety to sophisticated collections of materials in precious metal tubes.

Business continuity is in some aspects like a kaleidoscope - an enterprise plan is composed of many different parts. Unlike a kaleidoscope, business continuity must come together as a whole if it is to be successful.


John Glenn, MBCI
Enterprise Risk Management practitioner
Hollywood - Fort Lauderdale Florida
JohnGlennMBCI at gmail dot com


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