Andy VanderhoffWhile BC programs (BCPs) offer immense value to organizations they are not always leveraged to give the organization an edge over competitors. Andy Vanderhoff, President of Quantivate, discusses the ways you can publicize your BCP and use it to achieve cost savings, as well as the lean manufacturing conundrum: necessary redundancy versus lean principles.

Continuity Insights: How can organizations better publicize their BC practices to both customers and the broader community?

Andy Vanderhoff: Organizations can better publicize their BCPs by working with departments such as public relations or marketing. When working with public relations, use a press release to publish the achievements of your BCP. Marketing departments who utilize effective email campaigns are always looking for content to publish. Write up an article explaining the resources, effort and focus of your BCP. Finally, publish a BCP statement on your website.

CI: Lean manufacturing is widely used to improve efficiency, but its principals are at odds with BC planning. How can BC professionals strike a balance between lean operations and necessary redundancy?

AV: Lean manufacturing focuses on eliminating redundancy to lower costs. BC focuses on eliminating single points of failure to improve resiliency. These two programs may seem at odds, but if the right approach is taken they can act as equal weights on a scale. An effective business impact analysis (BIA), where senior management agrees on the impact weighting, can act as a unifying force. It can help quantify the amount of risk an organization is willing to take in its operations. The risk appetite identified in the BIA can provide framework to discuss risk reduction solutions. In some cases redundancy is simply too expensive. All hope is not lost as you can still write a business continuity plan for these areas by documenting a plan to rebuild the business processes/business systems from scratch.

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CI: Can BCPs be used to achieve cost savings for an organization?

AV: I have found two primary ways to use business continuity to achieve cost savings. The first is by identifying redundancy. When BC planning goes down the dependency level (mapping business processes to their needed vendors, locations, applications, systems, staff and equipment) you can see where there may be duplicate operations. The second way to achieve cost savings is to identify true recovery time and recovery point objectives (RTOs and RPOs).

Business changes rapidly and in some cases what was a critical priority in the past may no longer be on that level. This means there may be some systems that have a better RTO/RPO than is actually needed. Granted, this second way of finding cost savings is less common but it is still worth keeping in mind.

CI: Why is it important that all managers across an organization understand the value they provide to customers and how can BC plans be used to demonstrate this?

AV: Sometimes working in a larger organization is challenging when you don’t understand how your job fits into the overall company mission. In a large organization, you may feel like a cog in the wheel. It is vital to your ongoing career path to understand how your job/department ultimately serves your customers. BC can help clarify this role during the BIA by creating dependency maps for your organization. That way a particular department can see how they ultimately serve the customer.

CI: How can BC professionals demonstrate to senior management the benefit their BCP offers the organization as a whole?

AV: The obvious ways BC provides benefit to the whole organization is by protecting life, ensuring compliance, reducing risk, eliminating single points of failure and keeping staff trained. One often overlooked benefit is the ability to leverage data gathered in the BCP for other governance, risk and compliance efforts: Vendor lists can be shared with Vendor Management; Business processes can be shared with Enterprise Risk Management; Disaster recovery times for technology can be shared with Information Security to help with the “A” in CIA (confidentiality, integrity and availability). The IT system to business process mapping can also assist with privacy programs such as GLBA or HIPAA.

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