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This week in the UK, Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland and David Cameron UK Prime Minister signed a historic document which allows Scotland to have a referendum on whether Scotland should stay in the United Kingdom or should become an independent country. For us in Scotland this is a momentous decision and one of the most important since Scotland became part of the United Kingdom in 1707. It is agreed that the referendum will take place on 2014 and so for the next two years, I suspect there will be furious disagreement amongst those who are pro-independence and those who want to stay within the union. One of the consequences of this, I suspect, will be that many companies and organisations will not take major decisions and put them off, until they see which way the vote is likely to go.

Indecision and focus on other things, I think, is the enemy of the business continuity manager trying to carry out their role. I remember a similar situation about 10 years ago when I worked for a Scottish electricity company. When I joined the company, they had no business continuity manager and were desperate to implement business continuity throughout the division I worked for. To be fair, this was mainly in response to an audit which said they were behind the other divisions. So the senior managers were very keen to prove they had BC in place in response to the audit rather than any love of business continuity! For the first two years, I had great management support and achieved a lot. I conducted one of the biggest exercises “Gold Dawn” which had ever taken place in the Company, I had the ear of the Managing Director and was able to get the budget I needed.

I tried to keep up the pace of what I had achieved so far and had grandiose plans for even larger and more complex exercises. Whenever I tried to see senior mangers they were unavailable and there was no management support for my grand plans. The organisation was in paralysis and I could get nothing done.

I suspect these experiences may be familiar to many readers. Often at times of change or reorganisations senior managers are not that interested in business continuity. So for the business continuity manager it is very difficult to get much done especially if it needs senior managements support.

In this situation what can the business continuity manager do?

  1. Do the routine stuff. I am sure if you look back through your files and documents you can find plans and other business continuity documents which need updating. Now is perhaps the time to review documents like your policy. Has it been updated with the latest thoughts and requirements of ISO22301 or the Good Practice Guidelines? If not then this is the opportunity to have the first draft ready for the senior managers.
  2. Get yourself trained. You may have budget allocated to exercises or left over for the year. Use that budget to improve your skills. BCT have the BCI Level 2 advanced training course which could take your BC skills to another level or the BCI Level 1 GPG training course for CBCI qualification.
  3. Do some BC reading. There are a good number of books which have been recently published which might be worth taking some time to read. There are plenty of crisis management books out there and there has also been a good number published on how to achieve ISO22301. If you want to good place to start, read Ian Charters book on BIAs “A practical Approach to Business Impact Analysis”.
  4. Go for the ISO22301 standard. Well perhaps this is not the time to persuade the organisation to go for certification. You can go through the standard and comply with as many parts of it as possible. By going through each element you might find a number of gaps that will need improving.

During an incident the organisation should look for the opportunity. If your organisation is changed make use of the opportunity offered to you.

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