Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Business Continuity Incident Management Type: Administrator or Responder - Which one are you?

Something I’ve come to realise thus far in my experience is that there are at least two different types of business continuity professionals out there…both with pros and cons.

The Administrator

This individual will provide a cast iron framework of plans, assessments, audits and other such records. Every piece of work will be meticulously aligned to international standards and founded on a plethora of best practice e.g. BCI’s Good Practice Guidelines 2013.

The beauty of this approach is you are audit-ready and if any one dare question the evidence of a BC programme within your organisation you can simply fish from deep repository of up to date literature to scare them away.

I’m a big advocate of this style but then I’m vastly more experienced in preparing documents in comparison to dealing head on with a crisis.

However, in past incidents, I have found myself frantically sifting through action cards to remind me of exactly what has to be done. The truth is when I look back I perhaps spent far too long preparing the documents than acting on them.

The Responder

This individual is what I can only describe as born a crisis manager!

These are the guys and girls who visibly thrive with the heightened pace of urgency, the rapid assimilation of information/data and the elevated status (albeit temporary) of being the Chief Exec’s right-hand man/woman for the duration.

A real positive of this approach is that most organisations quite often rely on an experienced responder who can roll their sleeves up, deal with the pressure, keep senior managers well briefed and provide that so desperately required comfort blanket for the executive management team.

In the majority of public sector organisations that I have worked in, the incident responders are perceived by senior management as “Mr or Ms Reliable”, the cool, reassuring tones of a responder who knows exactly what to do and say to frantic board room during a crisis.

A potential downside with this approach is that it can lead to organisations relying on specific people on the day of a crisis and also lends itself less to developing the documented framework that is required in delivering a sustainable business continuity management system.

In my experience, the best responders I have worked with had the worst admin with virtually no valid documents in place (or at the very least documents with significant room for improvement).


I think for my own personal development I am required to become a happy hybrid of the two!

I also believe in any organisation you either need one of each type in your business continuity team or as a bare minimum you need a highly organised responder.

I would be really interested to hear the thoughts of the industry on whether there are more types and versions of responders out there for me to compare against.

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