You may well have heard the story of the person trying to streamline business operations and driving past huge, separated grain silos one day, which reminded him of the mentalities and divisions he was trying to overcome back in the office.
Thus (the story goes) was born the term “silo management” and its derivatives like “silo thinking” and “silo mentality”.
Business continuity managers are usually aware of the challenge to get all departments to collaborate and do their business continuity in harmony, ensuring that no individual action in one area will endanger BC in another.
But even in these enlightened days of cloud computing and workforce mobility, silos will continue to be a challenge and here’s why.
For all that new information technology tools have arrived to help promote collaboration and information sharing, cloud and mobile working can perversely have the opposite effect. Individuals using their own mobile computing devices may hold critical company data on them without thinking about backing it up on better protected company servers.
Departments resorting to shadow IT do things that the IT department does not know about, let alone the rest of the organisation. The freedom to roam cyberspace and use its resources without let or hindrance may result in the fragmentation of business activities on a huge scale.
What can business continuity managers do? Fight the silos, of course. While methods and approaches may vary, the following have often been effective:
- Get executive backing for business continuity. Top-down support encourages federation of thinking and action.
- Use the voice of the client. When major accounts insist on overall, effective business continuity, it becomes more difficult for one department to operate in its own BC silo.
- Have a clearly recognised, accessible, competent BC champion. That’s the business continuity manager (or BCM team), of course. Obvious, right?
- Enterprise awareness of risks. Tell everybody (phase your communication as appropriate) why business continuity is such a big deal, both for gaining advantage as well as preventing disaster.
- Make collaborative BC part of the business culture. Continual communication, encouragement, advice, and patience are the most valuable tools here.
Above all, don’t give up – or the silos will win, once again!