Starting Line: Initiating a BCM Program

6 Minute Read

Business continuity. Disaster recovery. Continuity of operations. Organizational resilience.

While the definitions of these terms may vary subtly, they all describe a management process that seeks to identify and mitigate organizational risks. Recovery and sustainment are the ultimate goals.
While business continuity management approaches may differ across industries, disciplines and countries, DRI International has developed an overview of professional practices designed to “assist the entity in the development and implementation of a BCM program.” These practices serve as a foundation for various DRI business continuity professional certifications.
With this resource as a guide, we at Send Word Now thought it might be interesting (and helpful) to briefly examine each professional practice, tying in relevant concepts surrounding emergency communications. We’ll start with DRI International’s Professional Practice 1: Program Initiation.
Program Initiation (the Starting Line) 
The goal of Professional Practice 1 is to obtain support and funding for the BCM program. In addition, organizational responsibilities and processes must be established. The resiliency professional’s roles in this phase are three-fold.
1) Establish why the organization needs a business continuity management program. Here, research and analysis come together to make a business case for establishing the program. Facts are distilled and presented to management in such a way the story is compelling. Awareness of the need is heightened.
2) Obtain support by the organization’s leadership. For this related role, a BCM program mission statement is developed. Budgets are formed. Executive sponsors are obtained, and roles and responsibilities for a steering committee are established.
3) Coordinate and manage the implementation of the program. In this role, BCM managers lead a steering committee in developing relevant policies and procedures. Sub-teams are identified. Responsibilities are defined and assigned for determining resources, assessing risk, conducting a Business Impact Analysis (BIA), managing incidents, etc. Over time, the effectiveness of the program is evaluated and management is provided feedback on a consistent basis.
While the actual details of launching a BCM program are extensive, it is clear the business continuity manager must be skilled in a variety of areas: data gathering and analysis, summarizing complex information, identifying risk, team-building, and planning. And don’t forget–salesmanship.
Program Initiation and Emergency Communications 
How does emergency communications relate to BCM program initiation? The key takeaway: critical communications should not be an afterthought, addressed only after the program has been established. Instead, critical communications processes, systems and procedures should be “baked in” as much as possible right from the beginning.
Questions to ask throughout the program initiation phase include:
-What risks are present if we cannot mobilize our incident management teams rapidly?
-What liabilities might exist if we cannot account for the safety and whereabouts of our employees?
-What happens if our typical communication channels are not available? How will we maintain a connection to employees, suppliers and other stakeholders?
-How can we measure the effectiveness of our communications capabilities?
-How might technology help us communicate faster, more reliably and with greater accountability?
Effective communications is the backbone of resilience. By considering these and other related questions early in the program initiation process, you’ll weave communications into the fabric of your business continuity program, ensuring greater success should unexpected and undesirable circumstances occur.
If you’re interested in learning more about DRI International’s BCM certifications, you can find additional information here. It should also be noted DRI International is not listing these professional practices in order of importance, and suggests some of these may be undertaken in parallel with one another. Watch for future installments in this series.   _