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Business continuity plans – fit for purpose?

Blog post   •   Dec 12, 2016 11:10 GMT

In a survey about the experience of handling major losses undertaken Vericlaim and Alarm, more than half of respondents “rated the practical assistance offered by a BCP (Business Continuity Plan) following a major incident as one or two out of a possible score of five”. In other words, the BC Plans of the organisations responding to the survey were found to be not particularly helpful when responding to a major loss!

This finding seems to have been rather under reported by the business continuity community who are usually so forward in explaining the importance of having a BC Plan and extolling the virtues of BC in improving resilience. Personally, I find it a damning indictment of the BC profession.

One of the things that constantly both amuses and horrifies me is how far most BC Plans are from the description given in the Business Continuity Institute’s (BCI’s) Good Practice Guidelines. This states that a BC Plan should be “…focused, specific and easy to use…”, and that the important characteristics for an effective BC Plan are that is direct, adaptable, concise, and relevant.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of seeing hundreds, if not thousands, of BC Plans from a wide variety of organisations, and I can safely say that more than 90% of these plans do not fit in with this description. They tend to contain lots of information that is irrelevant to the purpose of responding to a major incident, and seem to be written more for the benefit of the organisation’s auditors than for use by people who need to take action to reduce the impact of the incident on the organisation.

As a BC consultant, I keep trying my best to improve BC Plans, but I’m constantly being knocked back by people who tell me that all sorts of things need to be put into their BC Plans, more often than not because of an audit or review undertaken by a third party.

For far too long this situation has been allowed to continue unchallenged. It cannot do so for too much longer without the BC profession losing credibility.

Mel Gosling FBCI is the Principal Business Continuity Consultant at Merrycon Ltd.

Comments (1)

    A lot of BC plans now are content heavy to fulfil audit or statutory requirements. However the way I think of it is that the important bit is the planning, rather than the plan. The plan is a reference document, however the real benefit from the whole process is the planning and implementation so that in the event of a disruption, staff know what they need to do.

    - Greg Surtees - Dec 12, 2016 12:31 GMT

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