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Five tips for convincing your CEO to focus on business continuity

One of the most common concerns raised by business continuity managers is the difficulty of getting senior management support. In this article Brad Law MBCI, provides five ideas for making progress in this tricky area.

It seems nowadays that most of our working hours are spent in meetings, writing emails, calling back those voicemails and working on that endless proposal that you know is already 15 slides too long. So the last thing on your mind is trying to convince your boss that a resilient and concise business continuity plan is something 'we should focus on this quarter' and, let’s face it, they're thinking the same thing too. However, maybe it's time to ponder how you and your boss would cope without a task orientated, simple to use, business continuity plan. Below are my five tips on where to start and how to finish that conversation:

1) Competitors: 'They're doing it...'

Competitors are key to business, you need them to challenge yourself and your goals. You need a team ready for response, ready for action and ready for the unexpected. Your CEO isn't going to take lightly to his/her key competitor having a better business continuity plan than theirs, so exploit that: show them the facts. Just as Steve Jobs once said, "a lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them".

2) Case studies

Case studies: the buzz words for start-ups who want prospects to hear from current customers on how amazing the product is. An opportunity for your marketing team to post quotations on the home page. The one to five star reviews on Google. We're not talking about these sorts of case studies though. Your CEO doesn't care much for them anyway; what they like are hard numbers. When it comes to business continuity, we're talking about presenting hard facts and real life situations on what happened to the company down the road during that emergency.

When presenting this information to your CEO on your case study, remember to include:

  • Who did what and why?
  • What was the extent of damage and how much did this cost? (Average costs);
  • How long was the business closed or paused?
  • And what is their situation now?

Focus on the numbers, the time and most importantly, the money saved for the business: exactly what a CEO wants to hear!

3) Desktop simulation

Recently I was asked by a member of the FinTech world (she was a kiosk worker at the bank) how a company could do a quick, sharp exercise around an internal IT crisis. This particular person said they had just run one in the bank and that the manager had actually closed up for 70 minutes to do so. To this day, I'm not entirely sure why they closed the bank for a desktop exercise: and who actually authorized that? Regardless, the idea was on track.

A really great way to introduce some tests and first-hand experience is via desktop. If your CEO is the sort of person who loves seeing results straight away, this is the way to go. It's cost effective and, no, you don't have to halt the business. Three hours out of a scheduled day is all you'll need to measure the effectiveness of your business continuity team. Present the results to your CEO and offer him/her the chance to give it a go as well. This also validates your current business continuity plan and its worth. Once you've completed it, the results will speak for themselves and even better, the case study you wanted to present has just come to life.

4) Flaunt your intranet!

A report from Observatoire de l'intranet shows that only 6 percent of WordPress customers used their provided intranet to its full potential. Although Microsoft estimated a credible 30 percent, it seems the trend is that most businesses have not adopted the power of their intranet. As always, the issue with good software isn't usually the software itself; it's the human element of understanding it's potential. If your company has adopted the intranet (whether it's in active use or not), this is a fantastic platform for you to promote your ideas and message around resilience: and for free! It's also going to be a way to get the team using the platform for news and information themselves. In reference to tip 5, marketing directly to your colleagues and then promoting their awareness can help you make noise without saying a word. A few steps to kick this off might be:

  • Publish stories on a crisis/emergency local to your business or area: promote discussions;
  • Place an anonymous questionnaire on what your colleagues think they would do in a crisis;
  • Honest posts: "does anyone know anything about business continuity?" (Straight and to the point).

This is a free tool already in use to help get the staff asking their CEO 'why haven't we updated our business continuity plan?' Good question Mr Bloggs, good question.

5) From the floor boards up

Nothing says 'listen to me' like a good old fashion viral campaign. But you don't need to be head of Nike marketing to stand out here, you simply need to have everyone talking and believing in what you believe in. Like above, nothing speaks louder to a board and their executives like a gathering of awareness from their staff. We're talking genuine questioning around the company’s crisis management and business continuity capabilities: Why hasn't the company looked into this? What happens to me if my department ceases to exist? What could I do to help my colleagues and myself if it does all kick off? Starting with staff is a great way to build interest. The office cleaners, the security, your receptionist, HR and so on should know what your thoughts are and that you'd like to hear theirs too. This generates thought leadership across the office, promoting discussion and understanding of incident management. When finally presenting your case with at least one of the other tips, you'll now have yourself a team of people who also care about crisis management and business continuity too.

The author

Brad Law MBCI is Senior Consultant – Business Continuity at RiskLogic Pty Ltd.

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