Throughout the course of my career spanning over 25-plus years, I’ve witnessed many planners and organizations getting stuck during their continuity planning. This happens for a variety of reasons including how you manage the overall program. Here are some important ways on how to get ‘unstuck’ in your contingency planning.
The BIA phase is one of the most common phases that organizations and planners get hung up on and end up being ‘stuck’ in without making progress and moving on to the strategy selection and planning stages. This happens when you’re trying to get everyone through the BIA process prior to moving on into the other phases.
In large organizations with many business units and processes getting ‘stuck’ in this part of the business continuity process can easily derail your entire program. In fact, I have seen a healthcare organization 3 ½ years into their business impact analysis with an estimated six more months remaining until they thought they would complete this phase of the program. They also felt it wasn’t productive to move forward into additional steps prior to completing all BIA’s for the entire organization.
Three years in, it is highly likely that the data you collected in the beginning, is no longer valid. In most cases, a BIA should be completed every two years. In some cases, a BIA is completed once per year. So being 3 1/2 years in without further progress is not beneficial to the organization or to your program.
How to Avoid Getting Stuck
The best way to avoid getting stuck in the first place is to have a solid plan before you start with your first BIA. Determine how many BIA’s you will need to complete overall. Once you do this, you can easily break them down into smaller groups of four or five and plan out how many rounds of these groups you will have to do.
Start with your first group of business units and complete the BIA process with this first group. Once this is completed, move the first group into the strategy selection and planning phase and get your next group ready for their BIA phase.
Splitting your business units into groups allows you to continuously cycle them through each phase of the planning process. This allows them to move along in the process while the information is fresh, maintains the momentum, and rapport you built during the BIA process.
This also allows other groups and your management teams to see and experience the progress of your planning program which will contribute to your success.
What to Do If You’re Stuck
Here is how to get ‘unstuck’ in your contingency planning if you’re already in a situation where you might be having trouble moving the needle. There are a few things you can do to start your planning moving forward again. Since you want your business continuity program to be successful, I recommend that you start with the most recent business departments that completed their BIA’s. Moving them directly into the strategy selection and plan building phase.
Then go back to where you started in the beginning and meet with the departments that completed their BIA’s the furthest back in time. Review the data that you have looking for changes and make the necessary adjustment to the data you gathered.
Once you do this you may find that you can move these business departments into the next stage of strategy selection and plan creation and documentation. In some cases, you may find that so much has changed, from personnel, processes, responsibilities, and even applications that you might have to redo the entire BIA process again.
Don’t fret, simply continue this process, and as you find departments that have little to no changes move them along into the next phase and redo BIA’s for those groups that have too many changes to quickly gather the data.
This may seem like you’re moving backward at times, but you’ll be making more progress than you were previously by moving business units into the next phases.
Keep the Momentum Going
Once each business department group completes the creation of their planning document, move them into a tabletop walkthrough to look for gaps. missing information, or something that might cause an issue during recovery.
These groups can then be placed into a maintenance category where the plan will be reviewed at least once per year. Hopefully, someone will be dedicated to keeping the plan updated as changes are made making this process of doing a yearly review much easier.
If you need more help getting unstuck in your business continuity program book a free consultation today