The Skills and Expertise of a Qualified Business Continuity Expert

Richard Long

Whether you’re looking to hire a business continuity expert, or you’re training to become one, this guide will help you determine the qualifications and experience that are required.

Before we get into certifications or BCM specific qualifications, let’s review the important non-BCM skills that make an effective BCM professional.

  • Business function experience or technical IT experience. This is a must. Business Continuity is about business, and without basic business function knowledge and experience, guiding departments and interfacing with IT areas will be challenging.
  • Project management experience. You do not necessarily need a certified project manager, but you do need someone who is familiar with project management concepts and project organization. In the end, BCM is a program and requires organizational skills.
  • Interpersonal skills. Effective BCM programs must work with multiple levels of an organization, so the ability to communicate across all levels, as well as to understand and address concerns and pushback are necessary for success.
  • Flexibility and adaptability. Organizational needs change over time, and a demonstrated ability to be flexible in both process and problem solving will help identify solutions to BCM issues surrounding implementation, documentation, and governance.

Business Continuity Experience

Not every candidate will have all the following, but familiarity with the concepts is a minimum requirement:

  • Performing or participating in Business Impact Analyses, both formal and informal.
  • Performing or participating in Risk Assessments.
  • Organization of Crisis Management Teams.
  • Documentation development; the more the better, for example:
    • Business continuity plans,
    • IT technical recovery plans,
    • BC (or any) policies,
    • Crisis management plans, and
    • Support documents such as vendor or team contact lists.
  • Facilitation, development, or participation in mock exercises.
  • Participation in IT recovery exercises.
  • Understanding of basic regulatory requirements. The person does not have to be an expert in ISO or OSHA, but must understand if there is a need to verify requirements related to regulatory needs.

Business Continuity Certifications

There are numerous certifications available for business continuity and disaster recovery professionals. These are valuable programs that demonstrate a certain level of subject matter expertise, but they do not guarantee practical knowledge, experience, or wisdom. In our opinion, broad experience often far outweighs certifications. The most well-known certifications are those offered by Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRII) and Business Continuity Institute (BCI), for example:

  • CBCP – Certified Business Continuity Professional. This is the most widely-held certification showing knowledge across business continuity and disaster recovery.
  • CFCP – Certified Functional Continuity Professional. This is a narrow-focused certification such as IT recovery, BIA, testing, etc.
  • MBCP – Master Business Continuity Professional. Higher level of experience and knowledge. Few individuals hold this certification.
  • CBCI – Certificate of the Business Continuity Institute (CBCI) is the entry-level certified membership of the BCI.

The most successful business continuity experts are not just credentialed, but understand basic business functions and processes. They do not need to be experts in the organization’s specific business lines. They have a consultant and teacher’s mentality. At the end of the day, their job is about more than just BIAs, documentation, and risk assessments. It is about helping an organization protect itself against risks.

About
Richard Long is one of MHA’s practice team leaders for Technology and Disaster Recovery related engagements. He has been responsible for the successful execution of MHA business continuity and disaster recovery engagements in industries such as Energy & Utilities, Government Services, Healthcare, Insurance, Risk Management, Travel & Entertainment, Consumer Products, and Education. Prior to joining MHA, Richard held Senior IT Director positions at PetSmart (NASDAQ: PETM) and Avnet, Inc. (NYSE: AVT) and has been a senior leader across all disciplines of IT. He has successfully led international and domestic disaster recovery, technology assessment, crisis management and risk mitigation engagements.
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