If you want to make an effective business case for business continuity, you need to make its effects tangible, before disaster strikes. That means emphasizing not just the importance of risk mitigation, but also the business value and competitive edge that a strong business continuity plan can provide. That’s easier said than done, but here are some tactics that can help.
Use regulatory compliance to your advantage. In certain industries, regulations will define your business continuity strategy. Especially if your company is in the healthcare, financial services or insurance industry, the need to comply with regulations may dictate your thresholds for recovery.
Aim to create a business continuity plan that reflects your company’s culture. Business continuity means different things to different people. The type of business continuity plan you design and how you sell it will be influenced by your company’s culture and organizational structure. Understanding this cultural landscape will help you craft a plan that is less likely to meet resistance from other parts of the business.
Encourage grass-roots support by meeting individually with people in different business units. A good business continuity plan creates alignment among security, IT and corporate strategies and policies. Lay the groundwork for that by meeting with the people in individual business units and trying to understand their mindset and expectations.
Stay flexible. Asking for support for a business continuity program doesn’t mean you’re asking the business to treat every application and piece of infrastructure the same way. “Just because you need failover capability for one application doesn’t mean you need that same capability for all files and systems,” said Jim Grogan, vice president of consulting product development for SunGard Availability Services. “Creating a blended solution helps the business become confident they are spending money wisely based on business principals and policies.”
Find ways that business continuity can add to the bottom line. Finally, try to approach business continuity as a way of doing business—not as an add-on. One way to get executives to see that is to convince them how having a strong plan in place can improve revenue. “When [the] LaSalle [Bank Building] had a major fire in 2004, they continued to process,” said Jack Smith, vice president and manager of global IT business continuity at ABN-Amro (which owned LaSalle at the time). “No critical functions were interrupted, despite it being one of the largest fires in the history of Chicago. Staying up when others may be down is good business—not to mention good public relations.”