The success of a business continuity management program (BCM) in no small measure relies on executive engagement and support. Engagement is vital when initiating a BCM program or introducing an existing program to a new senior executive, and there are ways to achieve this strategic objective.
What is executive engagement? Among other things, it means allocating the budget and resources, actively communicating across the organization that BCM is a high priority, and participating in exercises. Here are some ways to make your case:
- Ask executives how they define resilience for your organization – Just asking the question engages them with you and the topic and opens a dialogue to make the pitch for a BCM program.
- Emphasize resilience is the objective – Position a BCM program as a way to maximize resilience. Prove that resilience is measurable by presenting a dashboard using concrete, quantitative measures such as those listed in Measure Resilience Versus Business Continuity Management. Commit to delivering a quarterly resilience dashboard and BCM program status update.
- Demonstrate value with examples – Use summaries of industry case studies and/or of past events in your own organization. Focus on recovery times, direct costs and indirect or qualitative costs. Identify the lessons learned from the pandemic.
- Know when regulators and certifying bodies require BCM programs – Various industries and professions are required to demonstrate active BCM programs. Be sure executives are aware of such requirements.
- Leverage “teachable moments” – The days after recovering from an event are a golden opportunity to make a case for a robust BCM program, while the experience is fresh in everyone’s minds. Lack of preparedness for recovery will have been evident, and the costs concrete.
- Proactively “sell” the benefits and minimal costs of exercises – Executives often think exercises are of little value, disruptive and time-consuming. Pre-empt those objections by explaining that exercises will be only once a year, require only a few hours and held when they are least disruptive.
- Exercises are almost as good as events in “selling” the value of BCM. Urge that executives participate in exercises, but if they balk, conduct first exercises without them and let the after-action and participant survey demonstrate the exercise’s value.
- Beyond that, explain that exercises are an excellent way for executives to identify skilled leaders, and the proven way to enable teams to better respond when plans are implemented. Emphasize that the way teams routinely work together is far different from how they must operate during a disruption, requiring different skills, team dynamics and processes.
- Link a BCM program to risk management – Enlist your risk management partner to provide verification that BCM programs can contribute to holding the line on insurance costs.
Calibrate your strategy and tactics to organizational politics and senior decision-makers’ personalities and agendas. Understand that it may take more than one attempt to gain executive engagement.