Executives always find that business continuity and disaster planning are important. However, sometimes this revelation is not immediate. Sometimes it takes years. Sometimes there is quite a journey to get there. But they always get there.
Essentially, three paths lead to this epiphany. The first path is through a disaster. The organization suffers some devastating event that has a huge impact on the company, its people, assets, finances, or reputation. Maybe this is a natural disaster such as a tornado or flooding. Or it could be a significant hardware or software crash in which an application is unavailable for days, and data has been lost forever. Perhaps through employee fraud, hundreds of thousands of dollars are embezzled. In the wake of these disasters, executives often look back asking, “How could I have prevented this?” And then they arrive – that business continuity project at the bottom of the list was important after all.
Do not be this executive.
The second path to recognition is through regulatory compliance. Many industries flat out require disaster planning as part of the compliance requirements from government regulation. This list includes healthcare, banking & financial services, insurance, utilities, and some government sectors. Often a government audit that goes poorly can result in large fines and penalties. Quick show of hands – who wants to be on a government watch list for periodic review of regulatory non-compliance? I realize that in today’s economy, companies are lean and budgets are tight, which might mean that some of these compliance initiatives have a lesser priority. However not addressing compliance is risky, and the long-term odds are not in your favor.
This executive will get to the same conclusion as the first, but perhaps in a less painful way.
The last type of executive is a risk-focused leader who sees business continuity for what it is – a strategy to protect the business and its people. These executives believe that having a current disaster plan is important because disruptions to the business are costly in many facets. They understand their risk profile and invest in policies, programs, systems, and people that increase the resiliency of their organizations. They realize that proactive fire drills and testing of their emergency plans show a commitment to employees’ safety. They realize that business continuity can be a revenue driver as well.
This executive’s journey to the recognition of business continuity’s importance is complete.
So where are you on this journey?