The Challenge of Distributed Detail in Business Continuity Planning

Much of the difficulty of effective business continuity planning lies in the fact that you need to make detailed plans for things not to happen, rather than just for things to happen. This means the strength of mind necessary for delving into the detail of scenarios that may never come up and simulating situations that may never arise. It also means the leadership qualities to attract and federate, from a business continuity point of view, followers across the whole organisation. It’s a challenge of “distributed detail” and it shows up in at least two key parts of the business continuity planning process.

The first part is risk analysis. If you’re going to cover all eventualities (understanding by Murphy’s Law, the one scenario you neglected is the same one that will trigger business interruption), you have to drill down to the fine detail in order to identify all risk factors. It takes time, effort and evangelism to get people to contribute the data and to recognise the results of the analysis. The benefit to your organisation (and which you can use to further the cause of business continuity planning) is that a good risk analysis also helps to boost its efficiency and performance.

The second part is the management of multiple sources of incomplete or inconsistent data. Risk analyses done by different parts of an organisation often have no underlying goal of coordinating such distributed analyses for overall business continuity planning. Still, every problem is an opportunity in disguise, as the saying goes. In this case, look for appropriate solutions to organise and automate such risk analysis and internal audit processes on a company-wide level. Wherever manual methods can be replaced by cost-effective software for example, you’ll get a vote of thanks if you can reduce management workload and at the same time increase performance.