Business Continuity Tip of the Month

Rudolph the red-faced business continuity manager (a Christmas tale – sort of!)

Once upon a time there was a senior manager called Rudolph who, on top of his many other responsibilities, was asked by his Director to implement a business continuity programme. Rudolph was a busy chap with a lot on his plate. He didn’t have time for detail. And anyway, disasters or crises never happen do they? Well, hardly ever. And only to other people.

So, rather than doing any proper analysis, or thinking about strategies or solutions, Rudolph leapt straight into plan-writing. He wrote a lovely looking plan, which didn’t take him long at all really. In fact all he’d had to do was find someone else’s plan on the internet, download it, change a few bits and pieces and voilà, one business continuity plan. He’d had to make a few assumptions, in order to get it done so quickly, but that was OK. Except he didn’t bother to validate any of those assumptions.

Nor did he bother to brief or train the incident management or recovery teams or do any exercising or testing, or even tell anyone else in the business about the plan – no need, disasters seldom happen do they? Job done; a tick in the box; sorted. Now on to more important stuff.

Then one foggy Christmas eve, an electrical fault caused a huge fire and the company’s factory and head office were gutted. Rudolph was called out in the middle of the night to invoke his business continuity plan. 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 vs. achievable recovery times, plant and equipment availability, people’s willingness to drop everything and rush to his aid and the ability to set up and equip a new factory, office and computer room in anything like acceptable timescales. In fact, none of the assumptions on which his plan was based were actually valid.

The upshot was that the business failed to recover and not long into the New Year it ceased trading. Rudolph went down in history all right – as the bloke whose business continuity plan wasn’t worth the paper it was written on!

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

Wishing you a very merry (and incident free) Christmas and a happy, peaceful and healthy New Year.



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