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Business Management

Graeme Bryce (UK) - The need to Implement an Integrated Approach to Business Continuity Management

Conventional approaches to Business Continuity Management (BCM) system adoptiontypically involve choosing from a range of cumbersome and expensive software packages, which require a company to change the way it runs its business to fit in with the BCM solution being implemented. 

Using these standard off-the-shelf solutions, as a company grows, BCM becomes yet another drain on resources.  It can expand into a hugely labour intensive operation for the business to manage and maintain, often involving manual updating of documents across multiple business units to keep information as current as is practicable.

But some companies take an entirely different approach to BCM.  They start by establishing what their business wants to achieve from a BCM system, and then set about integrating BCM tools with the ongoing work of their business units.  Sophisticated BCM solutions can dynamically incorporate both data and content into a company's documents, taking important data from different parts of the organisation and presenting it to individual business units where necessary. 

By adopting an integrated approach to the collection and collation of data, it eliminates the need to exchange or update data manually.  Ideally a solution should facilitate the re-use and cross population of data without additional effort, allowing business units to share strategic information across the enterprise that is always up-to-date, putting management in a position to make better informed judgements on long-term planning and contingency management.

Business Continuity managers can view documents created in runtime; online in a Word like environment, while CIOs can assess overall business information from a strategic perspective.  Company personnel can view dynamic documents knowing that the data they are viewing is the most up-to-date information in the system.  IT departments no longer have to manage and store document versions and their work becomes part of the BCM process, simply by carrying out their normal day-to-day duties, such as asset management and request to change tasks.

The BCM solutions of the past would, if you were lucky, assist in the capture of data and the maintenance of a plan, but would not track the validity of the plan as organisational data shifted around them. Plans that are integrated into the information eco-system are aware of change and can flag compliance issues using relatively simple email based workflows and escalation.

Implementing an integrated BCM solution could save a company significant time and money as well as increasing confidence in their ability to reduce the impact of an outage in any of its offices. Immediate benefits include the combination of real time responsiveness, the reduction in labour intensive manual updating and efficiencies in rapidly resolving outages. Additionally the time to identify the cause of problems and implement contingency plans, whilst getting the problem resolved, can be significantly reduced.

Typically the staff identified as Business Continuity Coordinators have many systems and processes competing for their attention.  They may be required to visit a BCM system only once or twice a year and as such the interface must be simple, friendly and allow them to complete the data processing tasks efficiently.  Conversely the Business Continuity professional requires advanced reporting, management reporting dashboards that integrate with the risk tools that may already be in place.  A modern BCM system must answer such needs by delivering fit-for-purpose interfaces to a variety of users.

Increasingly companies are demanding a return on their BCM investment in under twelve months and are seeking to dramatically reduce the resource required to improve resilience against business interruption. As well as integrating BCM tools into their company's existing processes and systems, they are also looking for solutions built to facilitate compliance with recognised best practice and standards including BS25999. Because companies have become more demanding, adopting modern BCM solutions is a wise choice.  As well as the obvious benefits of hours saved, ease of maintenance and speedy ROI, companies are more easily able to address a multitude of data changes and their downstream impacts in real time.

 By Graeme Bryce, Founder and CEO of Factonomy. Grame has over 20 years experience in IT companies.

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