Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ERM-BCP-COOP: Some planners don't "get it"


There was a recent exchange on a Yahoo Business Continuity group about the necessity - or lack there of - for a business continuity plan for a long-duration highway project.

One of the correspondents remarked that BCP asks "What happens if this stops?" not "What could go wrong?"

Assuming this person is a practitioner - and admittedly he did not claim to be a professional - this is nothing short of embarrassing since he obviously lacks an understanding of business continuity.

Another practitioner, with more time in grade than this scrivener's 14 years, tried to explain to the initial poster WHY business continuity is important "even" for a long-duration highway project.

The poster's initial question to the group was

We are involved in large construction projects that span years and one of our BCP Advisors has been asked to produce a BCP for the span of a project construction project. Um. I'm not sure how well that it fits. I don't do a BCP for the development of an HR system, why would I do one for the development of a highway? Don't large construction projects go through risk assessments and contingency development like other projects?

One responder told the poster that

As far as I know, project management processes are there to ensure that the project is delivered on time and on budget. PM deals with all of the risks associated with the construction project, this is why specialized project managers are hired and contracts are written with suppliers and business partners - so that the build happens. The project is a one off and not continuing business.

She is partly correct; the project manager is the responsible person, but unless the project manager also is a risk manager, he or she won't identify potential risks to the project, the impact to the project, and ways to avoid or mitigate - then recover from - the risks.

I know several very good project managers and they don't leave home without, if not a practitioner on staff, at least spending time with one before the project gets underway.

In reality, what can possibly go wrong with a simple highway job?

In my reply to the group I listed several risks. The initial poster commented that one of the risks "should have been caught during the Risk Assessment ."

Without realizing it, he made my point. If the project lacks a business continuity plan, there will either be no risk assessment or an incomplete risk assessment.

The other real planner who contributed to the discussion told a story of a highway that had to be rerouted - at great time and expense - due to fossils.

Our poster acknowledged that the practitioner made "excellent points, although I'm still not convinced that BCP is the right solution. How would plans to recover business functions have helped them and would the benefit have justified the costs?"

Once again showing he knows nothing of business continuity.

Sadly, most members of the Yahoo group remained silent, suggesting that maybe they, too, lack an understanding of real enterprise risk management/business continuity.

Fortunately, there ARE lists - and there USED to be a good Forum - for practitioners and tyros who do understand the purpose of the business continuity process.

It's a pity this Yahoo group seems not one of them.

John Glenn, MBCI
JohnGlennMBCI at gmail dot com
Hollywood - Fort Lauderdale Florida

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