5 Ways to Build a Business Case for Business Continuity
To win support for a business continuity plan, emphasize ways it can give your company a competitive edge
By Katherine Walsh
March 20, 2008 —
The importance of business continuity planning is a no-brainer--if you're a security leader who already thinks in terms of security and risk, that is. But convincing business executives, who typically think in dollars and cents, of such a plan's criticality may be a tougher sell. While the fundamental importance of business continuity is fairly obvious, the reason to spend lots of money on it may not be.
If you want to make an effective business case for business continuity, you need to make its effects tangible, before disaster strikes. That means emphasizing not just the criticality of risk mitigation, but also the business value and competitive edge that a strong business continuity plan can provide. "Far too often business continuity is thought of as an expense, overhead, or something we have to do to please the auditors," says Jack Smith, vice president and manager of global IT business continuity at ABN Amro in Chicago. "Look at it as a business opportunity and a competitive advantage instead."
Of course that's easier said than done. But here are a few tips to get you started.
1) Use regulatory compliance to your advantage.
Regulatory requirements are the obvious place to start in gathering support for business continuity planning. In certain industries, regulations will define your business continuity strategy. Especially if your company is in the healthcare, financial services or insurance industry, the need to comply with regulations may dictate your thresholds for recovery.Regulations can be an asset when you're trying to get buy-in from the board of directors and other executives, says Jim Grogan, vice president of consulting product development for SunGard Availability Services, a business continuity services provider. Educate yourself about the regulations for your industry--both ones that are in existence and those that may be on the horizon.
2) Aim to create a business continuity plan that reflects your company's culture.
As you get started, step outside of yourself and your own ideas and appreciate that business continuity means different things to different people, Smith advises. The type of business continuity plan you design and how you sell it will be influenced by your company's culture and organizational structure. Understanding this cultural landscape will help you craft a plan that is less likely to meet resistance from other parts of the business.
"Take a look at the various departments that make up the business," Smith says. "What are their priorities? What business functions are the most important? That's a great place to start."