The Business Continuity Institute (BCI) recently interviewed top senior managers in business continuity to raise awareness for BCI Education Month. Our own Melbourne based Senior Manager, Gary Vogel was invited to provide his expertise and answers to their questions.
Focusing on business continuity training and certification, Gary helps break down some common misconceptions while providing actionable advice on improving your own professional knowledge set.
What is Business Continuity to you?
It’s the capability for an organisation to continue to operate when adversity strikes.
Who is responsible for it?
COVID-19 has shown us that all staff are important for successful business continuity. Top management are accountable for the business continuity program and ensuring ongoing effectiveness, but successful business continuity is engraved into the organisation’s fabric, it’s part of the culture at organisations who are successfully embodying it.
How is it implemented?
Typically, it’s a crucial element in a company’s business-as-usual state. It may be driven by one team or manager, but responsibility needs to be devolved across all teams.
Why is it essential?
It will help guard against intolerable impact to an organisation from a disruptive event. It also ensures we have documented plans to turn to during a stressful time when normal cognition is likely to be impacted. We saw this repeated during concurrent events in 2020.
Has the pandemic put a spotlight on Business Continuity?
Yes, dramatically. Organisations with clear, documented business continuity plans were much more successful than those without them. Incident response teams that had been trained and exercised, performed better than those which had not, and we have plenty of case studies at RiskLogic proving that point. Organisations who managed supply chain risk actively before COVID-19 were quick to assure supply and enact appropriate contingencies as impacts to supply chain began to bite.
Looking at the future – will Business Continuity increase amongst organisations?
Yes, future evolution of business continuity will include planning for a disruption under a distributed workforce arrangement, and uplifting capability to manage incidents via virtual conferencing.
Business Continuity Training
Who is business continuity training for?
Firstly, all staff (if you can manage that). It will build on awareness of business continuity and understanding of what to do during an incident. Secondly, for those who are owners and managers of Business Continuity Plans (BCP). Thirdly, the crisis management team members.
Why is Business Continuity Training important/essential?
Staff awareness of business continuity and understanding of what to do during an incident is always important. We’ve found that training helps create more buzz and interest in a subject that is usually considered quite dry. It can make a positive contribution to culture as it provides staff with an understanding that their company is planning for adversity.
Typically, a BCP is not something that will be in common use. Specialised training for BCP owners will ensure they understand how to invoke a plan under various circumstances, who to communicate with and how, what to say, etc.
Finally, the crisis team members will get a good grasp of crisis intelligence, decision making, information management, situational awareness, and communications.
What is the best way to learn about Business Continuity? How would you go about it?
Everything is digital these days and the pandemic has really put an emphasis on digital learning. We’re seeing a heavy uptake in this. You can also utilise the channels your staff are spending time on during work, like the intranet or yammer. If you’ve got a large office space, consider even some well-presented, memorable posters. A client of ours uses a poster that just reads “where is your business continuity plan right now?”
Classroom learning is becoming the norm as it feels similar to the way many organisations are communicating anyway. You can do this virtually or in person, but more than two individuals will almost always create buzz and good case studies in the conversation.
What will you learn from a course like the CBCI accreditation by the BCI?
Absolutely everything you will need to know about building, maintaining, assuring, evaluating, and continually improving a business continuity management system. You will learn how to practically implement all the requirements of the ISO22301 standard (et al). Some of the lesser-known areas are around how to work through the challenges of embedding, building buy-in, and influencing culture.
Who would benefit from undertaking the CBCI?
RiskLogic has trained a very disparate group of staff and managers. We see a lot of business continuity managers, some with experience looking to improve their organisation’s business continuity arrangements, some with no experience who have recently inherited responsibility for business continuity. We see risk managers, compliance managers, consultants, executive team members, IT security managers, IT disaster recovery managers, auditors, even board members. Recently we have seen a few insurance underwriters in a CBCI cohort. They were keen to understand what a robust business continuity management system looks like, as it obviously has a bearing on the impact an insurable event has on an organisation.
What should someone expect from their instructors? What is it like at RiskLogic?
Instructors are hugely knowledgeable about business continuity and experienced in the practical implementation of the theory in the GPG. They are also passionate about the course content. Some may even be humorous. What we’ve found with our delegates is that they enjoy our trainers’ relevant and timely case studies to build stories around what is being taught. Where most tutors teach as a full-time job, our trainers are full-time consultants, living and breathing resilience.
What’s better: in-person classes, online classes or self-study?
RiskLogic does face-to-face and virtual CBCI courses. The latter came about due to COVID-19; they have proven to be suitable and enjoyable. Our face-to-face courses would be 3 full days followed by revision and exam on day 4 (this is one of the shortest courses available carrying the same content). With virtual, we do 6 half days, followed by revision on day 7. Exam date is chosen by the student to suit their needs and calendar. We record all online sessions, so students can catch up on that day’s content in their own time. We do not recommend engaging in self-study for a full course because students miss out on the opportunities the course afford for asking questions and taking part in practical activities. These things help to localise the theory for students. It is also a missed opportunity for building an important resilience network.
CBCI certification provides an end-to-end guide for establishing and maintaining a business continuity program for your organisation. Business continuity forms the cornerstone of organisational resilience. Having staff certified in business continuity is important and should be on top of your milestones for this year.