Business Continuity Tip of the Month

Rudolph the red-faced business continuity manager

Once upon a time there was a senior manager called Rudolph who, on top of his other responsibilities, was put in charge of the business continuity project. Rudolph was a busy chap with a lot on his plate – he didn’t have time for detail. And anyway, disasters never happen do they? Well, only to other people.

So rather than doing any proper analysis he leapt straight into writing a plan. In fairness, he also thought about the business continuity strategy –  for about five minutes. Then he took out the cheapest contract he could find for some ship-in IT equipment and wrote some lovely looking plans based on a number of un-validated (and, as it happens, invalid) assumptions. It didn’t take him long at all really.

He didn’t bother to train the recovery teams or exercise the plans or even tell anyone about them – no need, disasters never happen do they? Job done. A tick in the box. Sorted.

Then one foggy Christmas eve, after everyone had left the office, an electrical fault caused a massive fire and the building was gutted. Rudolph was called out in the middle of the night to invoke his recovery plans. His chance had come to shine.

The trouble was, his assumptions about recovery time and recovery point objectives were flawed, as were his assumptions about critical processes, IT requirements and vital records. As had been his assumptions about risks to the business. In fact, had he done a decent risk assessment in the first place he might well have avoided the disaster that had befallen his organisation.

The upshot was that the business failed to recover fully and early in the New Year it ceased trading. Rudolph went down in history all right…as the bloke whose recovery plans weren’t worth the paper they were written on!

Don’t be a Rudolph – if you’re embarking on a business continuity programme, do get the groundwork right. And even if you already have a mature business continuity management system in place, do revisit the analysis and validate the underlying assumptions from time to time.

Have a very happy (and incident free) Christmas and New Year!