What Companies Must Do to 'Keep the Lights On'

By Bob Violino Print this article Print
Business Continuity

A comprehensive business continuity plan involves technology, processes and people, and it's essential to keep customer trust and avoid financial losses.

Dealing With Challenges

Creating and deploying a global BCM strategy comes with challenges. For example, the BCM policy states that plans must be updated annually. As a result, BC coordinators do not use the software often, so they need to be brought back up to speed in using the program.

"The bigger challenge, however, is that we want the offices to embed BCM in their organization, follow the [BC] cycle themselves and consider BCM when a new process is introduced," Valente says. "We have a local risk committee in each office that has BCM on their agenda at least quarterly, so BCM activities and issues are discussed among the management teams. BCM awareness is another challenge, and that includes getting all employees to understand what BCM is and what their role is."

DLL has activated portions of its BCM plans for major issues such as IT outages. "But no major crisis event has occurred," Valente reports.

In winter 2015 the U.S. headquarters building in Wayne, Pa., lost power in a weather event. "We have a generator, but the power outage lasted for four days, so the crisis management team met at least twice daily to ensure we were prepared," she says. For instance, they had to be prepared to move people to an alternate work area site, and to re-route customer service calls.

"In a crisis situation, the crisis management team [including the top management representatives in each office] must be ready to execute all the various plans we have in place and provide leadership," Valente points out. "We conduct a scenario-based crisis management exercise annually in each major office to practice working together, identify gaps in planning and improve the plans."

Engaging in Awareness and Training

Another company that has created a BC plan, PSCU, a provider of financial services for credit unions, has primary and secondary data centers located in geographically disparate locations. BC plans are maintained for all departments and systems, says James Green, business continuity program manager.

As part of the effort, the company's crisis management and emergency management teams meet and train at least once a year, and "we engage our employees in awareness and training throughout the year," Green says.

When Green joined the company in 2013, he was asked to help strengthen and fine-tune the program. "We are always looking for emerging risk trends that affect and impact our members," he says. The company uses a BC management application from MetricStream as part of its BC program.

PSCU's BCM program is governed by a business continuity steering committee, which is composed of an executive team that meets at least twice each year and provides approval and guidance to the Enterprise Risk Office on all significant initiatives. The office is responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of the program.

"The main challenge with maintaining plans and a program is keeping them relevant to the business," Green points out. "In many companies, there is an initial push to have BC in order to 'check the box,' and then it sits on a shelf collecting dust."

This article was originally published on 2015-11-03

Bob Violino, a Baseline contributor, is a freelance writer and the editorial director at Victory Business Communications. He has covered business and technology for more than 20 years.

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