Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Business Continuity Management: Preparation and Risk

The BCM objectives as defined within the standard are “to counteract interruptions to business activities and to protect processes from the effects of major failures of information systems or disasters and to ensure timely resumption”. Usually, the better prepared you are, the more likely you will be to meet this objective, and the more effective will be your recovery.

Unfortunately, many organizations do not properly embrace risk assessment, and often start their business continuity project ill prepared.

PREPARATION: It is important at the outset to have the full commitment of the Board or Governing Body of the organization. Without this, problems downstream are inevitable. An awareness campaign should follow, to ensure that all staff are notified of that commitment. The business continuity project can then be initiated (central to which is the delivery of a business continuity plan). It is essential, however, that this project is formal and structured.Initial steps for the project itself will include defining scope, and obtaining copies of all appropriate documents and information. A formal risk assessment exercise must follow.

RISK ASSESSMENT: Initial emphasis on effective risk assessment will enable you to predict different types of incidents with more accuracy. It will help ensure that focus is applied to those areas to which it is most needed.
This aspect of BCM involves analyzing the business processes and identifying vulnerabilities through risk assessment and probability analysis. It includes the establishment of critical business timeframes including recovery time objectives (RTO) and maximum tolerable period of disruption (MTPD).

The RTO will represent the time interval between the incident occurring and the time when a measurable negative impact will result on the business whereas the MTPD will represent the time interval between the incident occurring and the time when the impact from the incident will become extremely serious for the business.

Following a detailed risk analysis of the business and its processes, suitable levels of safeguards and controls should be implemented that will protect the business processes and product delivery. It is important to understand that none of the above tasks can be short cut.

Proper planning and preparation may seem to be a burden, but the pay back could well be the survival of the organization itself.

FURTHER INFORMATION. Fortunately, this is a well trodden path, and specialist portals like the Disaster Recovery Planning Guide provide sound advice on how to take the initial steps described above.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Partnering For Profit HomeBusiness Ideas

The way you can stand out from your competitors is for you to position your self as a business partner, always looking for ways to improve your customer's business.

Help Your Customer's Business: When you deal with a business person, you can be sure of one thing: that person thinks about his business day and night. It is very close to him. It is dear to his heart. And if you come in and talk to him and ask him questions about his business, looking for ways to help him run his business better, the customer is going to warm up to you and want to be associated with you and your company.

Differentiate Yourself from Your Competitors: As a partner, you should always be looking to help your customer to cut costs and improve results in his or her area of responsibility. You should look for ways to help your customer in non-business areas as well. You should position your self as someone who cares more about the success of your customer than anything else, even more than you care about selling your product or service. This approach to partnering in profit with your customer is a key way to differentiate your self and to keep your customer for the indefinite future.

Practice the Reciprocity Principle: There is a principle of reciprocity in business that is very powerful. It is simply this; If you do something nice for someone else, they will feel obligated to do something nice for you. You should be looking for opportunities to go the extra mile, to do more than you are paid for, to put in more than you take out. By extending your self, you improve your positioning in the customer's mind and increasingly differentiate your self and your company from your competitors who are after the same business. If you do this long enough and strong enough, you will eventually develop the partnership to the point where your competitors don't have a chance against you.

Action Exercises: Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.First, think about how you can help your customer's customer with your product or service. Take time to understand how your customer uses your product to do his business better.Second, focus on increasing your customer's profits and financial results. Show your customer that doing business with you is both satisfying and profit able in the long run.

Brian Tracy