Measuring the maturity and success of a BC program can be a somewhat daunting task for many BC leaders. Determining what to measure and what success looks like can be different based on several factors. How mature is the BC program? Does the company have a BC policy? What are your BC requirements? Does the BC program include other related disciplines like crisis management or IT disaster recovery, or are these separate entities unto themselves? Most importantly, what are you trying to measure and why? What is the overall objective(s) of the assessment? What do you and your executives consider success right now?

The bottom line is that one size does not fit all. You may think using a generic industry assessment will give you the answers you need and meet your requirements, but this may not provide the results you are looking for if your BC program is not designed the same way as the assessment.

Yes, standard assessments have their place. If you follow a specific standard or are looking to utilize something already available rather than developing one, these assessments can be very helpful to get you started. However, I have found that organizations looking to assess their BC program must understand where they are in their own BC maturity, evolution, and goals. It is also important to understand what components are part of the overall BC program to ensure you are covering all appropriate competency areas in your assessment.

Answering some fundamental questions up front will help determine what the assessment objectives should be, what the assessment will cover, and what success looks like.

For example, is your BC program new, or was the program framework recently revised or re-established? Did the company just go through a major restructuring? If this is the case, you may want to start by assessing whether the organization has caught up with the changes and whether the organization is compliant with the basic BC program requirements.

If the BC program is more mature and teams are already meeting the basic requirements, what’s next? Is it time to focus more heavily on the interdependencies and interoperability components? Or is it time to focus more heavily on the effectiveness and viability of the plans themselves and the organizations’ ability to manage through disruptive events?

I have found that developing the assessment based on the maturity of the BC program and the overall pervasiveness across the company allows organizations to walk before they are expected to run. Building out a new BC program with all the necessary elements can be intimidating enough. Measuring whether an organization is “running” before it can “walk” may negatively impact the morale of your BC constituents who are working to just understand the requirements. If the assessment requires a much higher standard than your plans, the results will be less than expected and not necessarily in line with what you require as an organization.

I am not advocating that organizations not meeting BC requirements should be given a pass, just that asking organizations to achieve the unattainable based on the current situation can give the wrong perception. In the end, this can be detrimental to the health and perceived value of your BC program.

Starting with an up-front analysis to understand where you are and where you want to be can make the development of an assessment program much less daunting. It will help focus the BC program manager on the true assessment objectives at a specific point in time. Building out your assessment questionnaire based on focus, objectives, and short-term goals will help all stakeholders understand the current expectations and what they should be working to achieve.

You will still want to develop different maturity level scores to show the levels of growth and maturity of your teams. However, you may want to tailor …

  1. The questions within the assessment to your unique program requirements
  2. The levels of achievement on where you are now and where you want the organization to be in the near future.

Remember, as your BC program matures, your assessment can be revised to measure this maturity.

This initial assessment can be used as long as it makes sense. I would not recommend changing the assessment too frequently, unless your organization moves from crawling to running very quickly. Updating the assessment will depend on how the organization does. Once your organization is receiving consistently higher and higher scores in the assessment, it’s time to up the ante! At this point, the goal posts should move to encourage continuous improvement and growth. BC plans evolve and should improve over time. Your BC program assessment should do the same.

Finally, look to build engagement, awareness, and learnings which will enable your BC program to evolve, without expecting the unachievable. Providing positive observations and constructive feedback as part of the assessment results is a great way to ensure the BC program continues to grow.

One more thing: A little competition between teams is not a bad thing. Share the results of your assessment with the executive leadership team! I have seen some big smiles from individual executives in the C-suite who received the top scores across the company.


Jen Meades

Jen Meades has more than 20 years of building and managing business continuity and crisis management programs on a full-time basis. After retiring from her corporate role, she is now focused on helping companies become more resilient as an independent consultant.

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