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Volume 32, Issue 4

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Friday, 21 August 2015 05:00

Q and A with DRJ Fall World 2015 Speakers

Written by  Vicki Thomas


Q and A with DRJ Fall World 2015 Speakers

In this column we’ve taken a different approach. With DRJ Fall World 2015 right around the corner, we’ve got education, networking and the future on our minds. In light of this and as part of our goal to highlight the latest news, thoughts, trends and issues in business continuity - we thought it would be useful for you (and us) to hear from some of the speakers at DRJ Fall World 2015.

We contacted a few speakers and asked them questions ranging from their thoughts on the value of continuing education, trends in business continuity, and more about their sessions at our September 27-30 conference. As expected we received a large amount of great content and while we don’t have the space to present it all to you here, we have excerpted content from these interviews and included it in the column for you to read. (To read the full interviews, see the link at the bottom of the page for a PDF of all five interviews.)

Many thanks to the following people for talking the time to respond to our questions:

Q. What are your thoughts on the value of continuing education and networking?

Richard Cooper and Jose Sanchez: Education and peer networking are especially important at this time as we are experiencing a paradigm shifttowards enterprise resilience and operational risk management which will require BC professionals to advance their skills and better understand related disciplines in order to promote business continuity (and themselves). Online education is a useful tool but it does not replace learning opportunities at venues like the DRJ conference where there are a wide variety of educational and peer networking opportunities. Events like the DRJ Fall World provide a forum for BC professionals to sharpen their skills and knowledge of particular areas of BCM. This can be an area they want to excel at and/or an area of the lifecycle they have had little exposure to.

Jared Gouldy: Sharing stories and experiences with colleagues and making lifelong learning a priority makes your work more interesting and also makes you more valuable in the marketplace. Some of our best ideas and “ah-ha moments” come from learning from the experiences of others. Networking and continuing education are the best way to prevent your professional toolkit from becoming stale.

Q. Where did the idea for this session come from?

Jared Gouldy: By some accounts, two out of every three major transformative business projects fail, and BC/DR initiatives are not immune. Failing to consider the people side of the equation can easily result in failing to achieve continuity objectives, leaving the organization exposed to unnecessary risk. At McKesson, leveraging organizational change leadership principles in developing our IT Service Continuity program has been an essential component of our success. We believe we can bring to our colleagues a unique and value-added session by sharing our experiences and tools.

Neil Smith: The original session idea came from a webinar I attended on a Business Continuity Maturity Model (BCMMR) guideline and service. The webinar was intriguing and I realized that BC/DR "maturity" was a topic rarely discussed in determining where an organization fit in the BCM (Business Continuity Management) spectrum.   From that point, it was very easy to see how I could add to my management consulting services by working with my clients in the BCM maturity arena.

Dr. Michael Redmond: I have been consulting for many clients in the last few years area in the area of Cyber Security Incident Response (CSIRT). Cyber response is very different from responding to a disaster. ISO 27005 is a good starting point, but due to all of the requirements that are surfacing in different industries around CSIRT, it is not enough.

Aaron Callaway and Anne Marie DeBoard: We have known each other for many years and through several companies. Both of our companies leverages a software platform called ServiceNow for BC / DR planning.  It is truly unique how it leverages a CMDB and IT Service Management capabilities to operationalize BC / DR.  We felt this was a good story to share.

Richard Cooper and Jose Sanchez: (Richard) As a DRJ attendee for over fourteen years, I was confident that our peers would be interested in the end to end completion of a BIA involving nearly 300 stakeholders. I spoke with Jose and asked if he would be interested in sharing our experience with our peer group. DRJ Fall World was our obvious first choice of venue to present at!

Q. The digital age has changed business continuity practices - what are your thoughts on how the industry and common practices are changing?

Neil Smith: Big Data and Analytics, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, the Internet of Things to name a few, have all played a huge role in the explosion of the digital age. People, whether they embrace it or get dragged into it, must accept the fact that business continuity must try and keep up with the pace of digital technology and the huge amount of data generated by it must be recoverable. BC/DR subject matter experts must guide their business clients to the most recent BC/DR planning solutions to better allow people to handle the digital age and keep it running in the face of multiple disaster scenarios.

Jared Gouldy: One thing that comes to mind is that the technology revolution is really expanding the concept of the “office.” People can work from anywhere and even participate in exercises from anywhere. This decreases the risk associated with a single location and in itself can be a business continuity solution by design. Our recovery teams are distributed throughout the country and some are even overseas. Developing a strong team ethic and personal connections pose different challenges that we address with periodic onsite meetings, team building exercises, setting high expectations and holding people accountable, and a strong communication ethic.

Q. Let’s talk about the barriers that come with business continuity. What are your thoughts on this?

Dr. Michael Redmond: Lack of understanding and failure to realize that Business Continuity is the “continuity of the business” , which is not an option but a must. I equate it to a person who does use a rubber mat the bathtub because they believe that they will not slip. Last year 13% of the recorded falls occurred there.

Richard Cooper and Jose Sanchez: Management commitment and where to start are key areas preventing advancement of BC programs. Without management commitment, it is almost impossible to build a comprehensive program. Once management buy-in is achieved companies need to know where to start which can be a daunting task. Starting with a few large departments/divisions or taking an all-inclusive approach is often a challenging decision for a person who is given the greenlight but has not built a program before as there are pros and cons of both approaches. Many organizations also battle with the issue of priority. Working on Business Continuity means time away from deadline critical tasks and toward preparation for something that might never happen. Without sustainable management commitment, a program may never get off the ground and an existing program can stagnate out of complacency.

Neil Smith: The most common barriers I see to getting full business continuity buy-in are the lack of BCM program funding from organizational leadership and the hesitancy of senior leadership to take on the extensive BC/DR program effort. It is much easier for leadership to accept the risk of not buying-in on a BCM program as they still see any portion of a BCM program as the "cost of insurance." It is quite difficult to break down these barriers but the BCM subject matter expert cannot stop stressing the need for getting the ball rolling for their organization's BCM program. There are too many examples of disasters in all industry verticals where businesses struggle to catch up following a disaster. BCM maturity, no matter its level within the organization, is better than having nothing at all based on the lack of senior leadership commitment.

Aaron Callaway and Anne Marie DeBoard: My company already sees the benefit. As a service provider, we are beginning to see more and more requests for business continuity information from our customers. This makes it easier for me as the leaders are seeing the value. We have had Crisis Management and Disaster Recovery in place for years. Business Continuity Planning is newer to the organization but they definitely see the benefit. I am fortunate to work with individuals and at the end they are grateful that we are helping them answer these questions.

There Is More!

Now this is just a snapshot of the questions we asked these speakers. To learn more about their insights into business continuity, be sure to download this document that includes a complete transcript of each interview. We think you’ll learn a lot from these speakers in advance of your attending DRJ Fall World 2015.