In a galaxy far far away, the Chairperson stands and announces to the shareholders “I am pleased to tell you that the Board can report a healthy return on our investment in the company’s Business Continuity system”….
… and continues, “This year has been so successful that we have decided to triple our investment year on year and look forward with confidence to achieving substantial rewards”.
Unfortunately not even Business Continuity Awareness Week may reach that far.
Yes it is possible to show that a well-implemented BC system contributes to the wealth, resilience and effectiveness of an organisation’s performance, but is that its primary purpose or just an emergent property of good processes? Many activities within a company can equally make claim to efficiencies and engagement and risk reduction and improved performance leaving BC to become one voice amongst many.
Consider for a moment; when did you last hear a Finance Director being asked to justify the ROI or “value” of the accounts department? I have never worked for a company or client where finance directly contributed to ROI but they certainly measure it and report the figures. They are also very clever at persuading everyone that these figures contribute to the overall well-being of the organisation and to be fair, they do contribute. But finance at its most basic level is simply a codified system for meeting statutory requirements which has, over the years, continued to change and moved far far beyond the minimum requirements to create a position of fundamental importance, one in which finance is the heart and soul of governance and efficient operation.
Which in my mind raises a challenge to the question not of ROI or “value”, but a slightly more fundamental one and that is what do we measure as Business Continuity professionals and what do we report? The accountants have it covered; lots of spreadsheets, pie charts and the type of graphs you can only dream of. All of which are linked to goals and targets with accountabilities allocated across the organisation from business units to cost centres; if you want it costed and measured then they can deliver it from net present values, to liquidity ratios, discounted cash flow to… well you get the idea.
Perhaps before deciding on value or ROI, let’s start by considering what the BCI world measures and reports, and how that needs to be linked to organisational targets and supporting the executive teams in decision making or even demonstrating effective continuity. Then use this information to underpin communications across the organisation and engage people in the ownership and management of Business Continuity.
We want continuity to be at the heart of the organisation, to be engaged early in projects and investments that will not happen until we can demonstrate by measuring and reporting that we are hitting our continuity goals because is that not what we really want to achieve?
And so I end with a search for that elusive post in my far away galaxy where investment in business continuity starts with a “The budget is yours to spend, how much would you like” style of conversation with the boss; now where did I put that brochure for the BCI Galaxy Conference!