We are living in a golden age in terms of the easy availability of high-quality information on how organizations can make themselves more resilient. In today’s post we’ll look at the top 10 free or almost free resources business continuity management professionals can utilize to help them raise their BCM skills and effectiveness to ninja level.
Related on MHA Consulting: Become a Master of Disaster: Educate Yourself With These Key BC Resources
A Golden Age for Quality BC Information
We talk a lot in our MHA Consulting blog about aspects of BCM that are getting harder these days: the weather’s getting weirder, global turmoil is up, cyberattacks are on the rise, management is indifferent, the pandemic is dragging on, and supply chains are vulnerable. However, there is one aspect of doing BCM that is much better and easier than it was when I was getting started 25 years ago. Back then, finding information on how to do anything in BC and IT disaster recovery (IT/DR) was impossible. Nowadays, we are in a golden age when it comes to obtaining quality information on doing BC. Anything and everything is out there regarding how you can protect your organization and its stakeholders from disruptions and recover quickly when outages occur.
Then, as now, the government published resources to help organizations protect themselves. What’s changed is that the internet has made everything easier to find, the net has facilitated the development of blogs like this one, BCM professionals have become highly collegial about sharing information, and the field as a whole has matured in terms of professional gatherings, associations, standards, and practice. (Much of this change was propelled by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.)
It’s never been easier for BC do-it-yourselfers to learn the basics of how to protect the companies they work for and for BC professionals to take their skills to the next level.
By the same token, there’s never been less of an excuse for planners to throw their hands up and say they don’t know how to do or find something. If it has to do with doing BCM, chances are the information is out there. All you have to do is take the initiative and go get it.
Top 10 BCM Resources
All that being said, here are my top 10 resources to help you become a ninja-level BCM practitioner:
1. Ready.gov. This U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security website has great general information on preparing for disasters. An excellent first stop on any BC research journey.
2. Preparedness Planning for Business. This is a subsection of Ready.gov devoted specifically to the needs of business. A great place to get an overview of the whole BC field, from Program Administration to Exercises to Risk Management and Mitigation. Contains links to toolkits for preparing for different hazards as well as pages on Emergency Response Plans, Crisis Communications Plans, Incident Management, IT/DR, and much more.
3. Prepare My Business for an Emergency. Another excellent DHS website. Talks about the need for business to be prepared for three types of hazards, natural, human-caused, and technology-related. Lists the steps to create an all-hazards business preparedness program as set forth in the National Fire Protection 1600 (NFPA 1600), DHS’s recommended BC standard.
4. State, county, and city Emergency Management offices. Most states, counties, and large cities have these offices. I learned so much from mine when I was starting out, especially in terms of doing mock disaster exercises and crisis management. I urge every BC office to reach out to its local emergency management offices before something goes wrong. Building a relationship with these knowledgeable and dedicated folks ahead of time can make all the difference when and if you experience an outage or disaster. Here are the websites of my local offices in Phoenix, Arizona:
- Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs
- Maricopa County Emergency Management
- City of Phoenix Homeland Security and Emergency Management
5. Your local police and fire departments. Your local first responders are often willing to sit down and talk with businesses about preparedness and emergency response. They can also teach you how to interact with first responders when they arrive at your site during an emergency (include this information in your response plans). Try to build a relationship with your first responders ahead of time. If possible, get the fire department to tour your facilities. That way, if and when they ever have to show up with their sirens on, they’ll know their way around. Connecting with these folks can give you an invaluable feeling that you are not on your own.
6. Professional groups and organizations. There are many public-spirited professional groups and organizations focused on BC. Many offer an abundance of solid, insightful resources and information. Here are a few that are well worth getting to know:
- Association of Continuity Professionals
- Business Continuity Institute
- Continuity Insights
- Disaster Recovery Institute International
- Disaster Recovery Journal
- Risk Management Association
7. BCM consultancy websites. Many BCM consulting firm sites publish blogs, white papers, and webinars on BC topics that are available free to all comers or in some cases free with registration. Collectively these are an exceptional resource. Whatever the consultants’ motivation might be in creating this content (contributing to the BC community, exercising their passion, showing their chops to potential clients, or what have you), the benefit for people trying to learn about BC on their own is tremendous. As an example, our MHA Consulting site is full of articles and ebooks that set forth the same principles and practices we use in working with our Fortune 500 clients, all available for free to anyone who wants them. Here are a few of the resources on our site you might find valuable:
- MHA Consulting blog
- Strong Language: The MHA Glossary of Essential Business Continuity Terminology
- Crisis Management: A Handbook for BCM Professionals
- Critical Vendors: The MHA Guide to Securing Your Supply Chain
- Your BIA Action Guide: A Handbook for BCM Professionals
- 10 Keys to a Peak-Performing BCM Program
8. Other BCM professionals. Business continuity professionals tend to be serious, responsible, helpful people who have a professional dedication toward minimizing outages and their impact for everyone. This means most are highly collegial and glad to share their insights and experiences with BCM professionals at other organizations. Take advantage of this by networking through professional organizations and at BCM events. Develop contacts, make friends, ask questions, share stories—and look for opportunities to give help as well as receive it.
9. Non-BC individuals in your organization. What can non-BC people at your company teach you about doing BC? The answer is a lot. Because they are the experts regarding the business processes it is your duty to protect. Often they can provide vital insight on the culture of your organization, the criticality of various business processes, the robustness of your supply chain, how to work with management, and many other areas. Consider reaching out to department heads outside of any formal BC activity and asking them to fill you in on what they do.
10. Regional, state, and local universities and colleges. Are you interested in taking college-level classes on business continuity, emergency management, or homeland security? The past several years have seen a boom in the number of courses and degree programs offered in these fields. A college near you might have such a program.
Becoming a BCM Ninja
The past two decades have seen the challenges BC professionals face get a lot tougher. Fortunately, they’ve also seen a boom in the number of resources available to help us meet these challenges, to the point where we are now in a golden age in terms of the easy availability of sound BCM advice and information.
By familiarizing yourself with the 10 resources described above, you will be on your way to developing ninja-level proficiency as a BCM practitioner.
For more information on BC resources and other hot topics in BCM and IT/disaster recovery, check out these recent posts from MHA Consulting:
- Become a Master of Disaster: Educate Yourself With These Key BC Resources
- How BCM Software Can Make Your Business Continuity Program More Agile
- Practice Makes Perfect: How to Be Ready to Handle an Emergency
- The 6 Tasks Every Emergency Plan Should Address
- Don’t Give Up the Ship: Demonstrating the Benefits of Rigorous Crisis Management Training
- Weird Weather: How to Be Resilient In a Time of Climate Chaos