Getting management support for business continuity planning

Exec buyin“I’ve been thinking about continuity and I wanted you to know you’ve got an unlimited budget to do what it takes.” These are the magic words that every BC/DR professional wants to hear from their CEO.

Also, coincidentally, the magic words that no BC/DR professional will ever hear from their CEO.

Paradoxically, support for BC/DR is just as unlikely to come from below—putting you in the awkward position of convincing the organization to value business continuity only after you help senior management see they need to find it valuable, too.

Easier said than done, of course, considering that sometimes even getting the C-suite’s attention is difficult—to say nothing of support and buy-in.

However, these three steps should go a long way to getting your BC/DR initiatives pushed through.

First: get clear on why you want buy-in

Before making the business case for implementing a BC/DR plan, identify the ways your organization will benefit. These could be any or all of the following:

  • Lives will be saved when—not if—a disaster strikes.
  • The survival of your business could depend on planning for BC/DR ahead of time.
  • BC/DR meets your company’s obligation to stakeholders, shareholders and customers to exercise a minimum standard of care and preparedness.
  • In some jurisdictions, perhaps yours, a BC plan is the law. Having one means less risk of liability, criminal charges, fines or jail time for your corporate officers.
  • BC planning will help your organization maintain service levels, protect employees and assets, and minimize financial losses in case of a catastrophe.

Then: articulate how BC planning will help before, during and after a crisis

Making business continuity planning a way of life will help your organization more consistently:

  • Identify and mitigate risks before a disaster occurs.
  • Minimize decision-making time during a disaster.
  • Provide for a more orderly and expedited recovery after a disaster.
  • Ensure organizational stability through all stages of a crisis.
  • Reduce reliance on only a few key personnel.
  • Safeguard your company’s reputation and brand.
  • Maintain or gain competitive advantage because of a swift and effective response.

Moreover, the planning process will help you identify—and address—any weaknesses or vulnerabilities in your business before they compound critical problems during dangerous times.

Finally: make your pitch

When it’s time to try to get the support you need for your effort, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Go in with specific objectives. Know exactly how much funding you need, and what kind of support you’re seeking from both top management and the organization.
  2. Demonstrate ROI. Will you be able to salvage revenue? Improve daily operations? Eke out a competitive advantage in the wake of a catastrophe? Don’t be shy with the numbers that will position your ask as more than just a money pit.
  3. Research and show what competitors are doing. If you can point out how your top competitors are investing in BC, management may be more likely to buy in.
  4. Be ready to overcome objections. For instance, if the CFO feels the program is too costly, play to your ROI and the benefits you previously identified to justify the effort as an investment.
  5. Above all, be pragmatic. If your proposal calls for a two-hour RPO, but management says they can only commit to 24 hours, settle for the 24-hour RPO instead of walking away with nothing. Similarly, if you’re asking for $800,000 and they’ll give you only half a million, don’t simply reject the offer before you consider the good work you could do, even with the reduced spend.

One last tip: strike while the iron is hot

It’s simply smart business to make your BC push after a crisis, catastrophe or major disaster makes the newspaper headlines. There’s no time like that critical moment when everyone in the company, the state or even the country is thinking and talking about the same thing. In such a moment, management is primed to imagine the pressure and scrutiny they’d be under if something similar happened to them.

Time your pitch right, however—after you get clear and articulate the benefits of BC/DR—and you’ll have a much better chance of success. Interested in finding the best mass notification system? Download the Automated Notification System RFP Template.

 

Learn more about BC management with The Definitive Guide to Business Continuity Planning.