Business Continuity Planning
Your Business’ Life Could Depend On It

Harvey Betan, Contributing Writer,
This is the first in a series discussing Business Continuity Management (“BCM”). When people hear about BCM for the first time I invariably hear “isn’t that just disaster recovery?”, I politely reply not really, as a matter of fact D/R is one important section of BCM. Here is why. The quote I like to use, though I do not remember who said it first is, “Disaster/Recovery is restoring and reconstructing your business after a catastrophic event, while Business Continuity Planning is making sure your never get into that mess in the first place”. In its true form D/R is the recovery of data and or systems required to make that data available so that the business venture may remain intact. BCM on the other hand is the definition and anticipated actions required to prevent or bypass certain actions or situations.
This is simply one aspect of the requirements for continuing or reconstructing the business function. Once the data and data transport mechanisms are in place you need to have the people available to work on that data. You need to ensure that your customers and or suppliers know where and how to reach you if you relocated. Your employees need to know where to report to work or if they need to report to work. Your employees need to know where to go and what to do if they are suddenly told to evacuate the premises.
BCM plans in their simplest form are a mechanism to contact employees in a weather related emergency, a transit strike, or a water main break or gas leak. The concept of BCM is not time specific. You don’t have a formula where if an outage of more than 24 hours is anticipated invoke the plan, what you do have is a comprehensive plan that states what needs to be done in the event of an anticipated 24 hour outage due to a particular situation. In its more complex form the BCM would detail what to do if a structure collapses or is in a hostile environment for an extended period. As an example many businesses in the surrounding area of “Ground Zero” were not able to return to work for weeks after September 11. Physical structures may have remained intact, the computer systems may have been intact and operational but one could not physically get to the office.
In the next few articles I will introduce the topic in more detail. Explaining BCM is like peeling the proverbial onion, there is always one more layer that has become visible with opportunities as well as complications. I welcome questions from readers regarding D/R and BCM and will respond to questions affecting a number of people and businesses. My intention is to educate and inform through interaction.