Mapping Networked Business Continuity Disciplines into Documents

As organisations evolve, they need to re-evaluate their degree of preparedness in the different business continuity management disciplines. In the networked partner model that has become common today, risk management, governance over recovery, crisis communications and talent management all need updating, compared how things used to be in the vertically integrated enterprise. Changes made in the way an organisation approaches these items then need to be mapped into the appropriate BCM documents. But is this as simple as it sounds?

Firstly, the four disciplines mentioned above need to be coordinated with and across all business partners to prevent vulnerabilities that could cause the whole network to break down. Risk management information must be collected, processed and re-communicated, while effective governance and crisis management needs good collaboration. Talent management may be a longer term factor, but partners who ignore it can imperil the continuity of any network of which they are a part.

Without shared, written records to refer to and share, companies cannot ensure business continuity with suppliers, distributors and end-customers. What documents are appropriate for recording and communicating policies and responsibilities? The traditional BCM documentation can be broken down into four components: disaster recovery for IT-related failures; continuance for maintaining services in normal operation; business recovery for resuming business operations at a different location; and contingency for dealing with serious external impacts.

Out of the four disciplines, there are some obvious candidates for updates in these documents. Risk management, governance and crisis communications all affect recovery, continuance and contingency planning alike. But then so does having trained and capable staff assigned to each function. Talent management also applies across the board; it simply needs to be started earlier because it takes longer to reach cruising speed. To make sure that nothing falls between the cracks, a matrix-style checklist and systematic updating for each discipline of each document is the best solution.