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From all of us at PlanB Consulting we would like to wish you a very Happy New Year! 

The New Year is a time when we make a whole load of resolutions, such as to get fit, lose weight, read more and drink less, only to find that by February or even the end of January we are back to our old ways. Yes, some may change their lives and do something different, but for the majority of us, this is not going to happen, leaving us even more depressed because we’ve tried and failed!

So, this year instead of giving you a ten point list of the things you should be doing to improve your business continuity, I am going to give you a list of five things which I don’t want you to do. 

Here is my list:

  1. Prune your BIAs. Within your BIA do you capture huge amounts of data which looks nice but does not necessarily serve any value? Just because it is easy to count the number of chairs, desks and cupboards in our offices, do we need this in our BIA? Once this information is in the BIA some poor person needs to update it at least once a year. Look at your BIAs, can you reduce the number of them and can you cut down the amount of information captured? Be brutal, if it doesn’t add value or tell us something important, chuck it out. Tens, if not hundreds, of person hours can be saved to do something more useful!
  2. Simplify your plans. When an incident occurs I have seen many people ignore the plans and make up the recovery as they go along. Why then waste your time producing a plan which fills two folders if nobody is ever going to look at it? The other day I saw a plan which was written by another consultancy company, it was absolutely packed with “meaty goodness”, lots of diagrams, mnemonics, stages of response, contingency plans and SOPs. As a parishioner, I thought it was really good, unfortunately the client didn’t understand a word of it and wanted a simplified version with what they actually needed to know. So, simplify your plans and get them onto two sides of A4 containing the key information. If you are regulated or need to have your plans audited, then have a full version which can be used for audits and referenced on the day of the incident if the extra detail is needed.
  3. Don’t spend all year focussing on one major exercise which takes weeks of planning, uses a huge amount of resources and then only exercises the main team and not the deputies. Yes, there is a place for large exercises but would you not get better value out of a series of short hour long exercises conducted throughout the year? An exercise can be as simple as drawing a scenario out of a hat and the incident team spending 30 minutes on how they would manage it.
  4. Many of you are still laboriously updating telephone lists or call trees manually. Invest in a notification system such as Everbridge or Crisis Commander or invest in business continuity software that has this built in automatically. They provide a central repository for all plans and can be updated automatically from corporate databases such as the HR systems. These systems are not generally expensive and can save hours of time updating lists. They can also save vital time during incidents as groups can be automatically notified by one person.
  5. Do the four above and you don’t need to bother with 5!

In most organisations the business continuity function is seen as an overhead not contributing to the bottom line and so time and time again we are expected to do more with less budget and less support. Hopefully by doing a bit less this year and simplifying your business continuity, this will enable you to spend a little more time doing your job properly or at least a bit better!

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