Monday, June 07, 2010

Crisis response time measurement

Blog post at Houppermans on 28 April 2010

Here is a simple guide to measure your response time to a crisis:

1. Take a copy of your business continuity plan or guide.
2. Carry it to a safe place.
3. Set fire to it and measure how long it burns.

Speed is essential to deal with a crisis. Reacting appropriately in a timely manner minimises the risk of further escalation, be it a fire, toxic substance release, kidnapping or other grave situation.

Many organisations provide guides that are just too big - one was contained almost 200 separate recovery processes, each extensively documented.

The problems with this include:

* Exercise is critical to facilitate smooth, low risk execution. To ensure so many processes are sufficiently practised presents major challenges.
* Recovery processes must be flexible - changing circumstances will endanger any format that is too prescriptive.
* Processes must be light and focused. It is essential to avoid distraction, extraneous information can distract and costs time to read, thus delaying appropriate reaction.
* Volume causes critical delay. Starting crisis management with a choice of almost two hundred separate processes loses precious time, with an added risk of choosing the wrong starting scenario. After all, this initial selection is made under stress.

Seven to nine crisis handling processes should cover every need. This number is based on practical experience and on client feedback where recovery processes were exercised or used for real. Good processes are slim, efficient, focused and flexible, stripped from anything that can distract from the actual crisis at hand.

The worst time to discover the process problems is during a crisis…

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