Building an Effective BCM Program: Step 1 – Know Yourself

Building an Effective BCM Program: Step 1 - Know Yourself

A couple of months ago we published an ebook entitled “10 Keys to a Peak-Performing BCM Program,” written by MHA Consulting CEO Michael Herrera.

It’s available for free download here and is full of information and insights that can help you give your business continuity management program a boost.

The ebook has become the most downloaded resource on our site. Though authored by Michael, it amounts to a channeling of the collective brain of those of us who have been at MHA for a long time.

With that in mind, we thought it might be worthwhile to do an occasional series where we present these 10 keys one or two at a time in a stripped-down, blog-appropriate format. This is also a chance for me to share my own personal experience on the subject, with the hope that it helps you understand each topic.

If today’s post tells you everything you want to know about the topic, great. If it motivates you to turn to the ebook for the full story, great. If it moves you to want to reach out to one of us to initiate a more personalized conversation about how MHA might be able to help your organization optimize its BCM program, that would be fine, too.

Without further ado, here is an excerpt from the first chapter of “10 Keys to a Peak-Performing BCM Program,” covering the first key, “Know Yourself” about the importance for BCM program leaders of understanding and capitalizing on their personal strengths and managing their weaknesses.


Developing a high-performance BCM program for your organization starts with you. As the BCM leader, you are the person responsible for the fate and direction of your program. The program’s success depends on your ability to strategically and tactically guide your team’s current and future efforts.

One of the most important things you must do in leading a BCM team is to develop an understanding of your personal strengths and weaknesses, and then either improve your weak areas or delegate those tasks to other people.

[mk_mini_callout]My experience: This was one of the first things I had to do as a new manager. Moving from a technical position to managing a team was difficult in that I had been the subject matter expert and technical lead. As a manager, I continued to play that role even though it was no longer my responsibility. Then a mentor suggested I look at how to stop being the hands-on expert and grow the team skills. The how was to give help and advice without logging in to the systems and applications for which I was responsible. That made all the difference.[/mk_mini_callout]


The skills required to manage an enterprise BCM program are many and varied. You must possess the relevant technical knowledge. You must also be able to communicate at all levels of the organization, build relationships with stakeholders, sell your budget needs and risk concerns, eliminate roadblocks, manage people of various skill sets, and lead during a crisis.

Have you ever taken an inventory of your personal and professional skillsets? Have you performed a SWOT analysis—strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats—with yourself as the subject? Do you know how your abilities relate to the key requirements needed in a BCM leader?

To be successful as a BCM program head, you must inventory your personal and professional skills and understand your strengths and weaknesses as they pertain to this role. What we typically find is that many BCM managers have good tactical BCM skills but lack the management skills needed to lead their people and guide them to building a responsive and demonstrable recovery capability.

Why is this important? Due to the complexity of today’s BCM programs, knowing how to apply your strengths and weaknesses across your program is critical. The depth and breadth of your personal and professional skillsets will greatly impact the success of your program.

Unfortunately, few BCM leaders truly understand where their strengths and weaknesses lie. In many cases, BCM programs fail due not to a poor methodology or approach but to the lack of good management. It’s vital that you understand what tasks you should handle yourself and what you should assign to the various members of your staff.

[mk_mini_callout]My experience: An example of this for me is the writing of documents (and even this blog). I believe the content is relevant and useful. In general, I think I am a pretty good writer, but I do not see the little mistakes or concepts that might not always make sense to others. I need an editor. We have individuals at MHA who are very good at editing and proofing content. I use them all the time and it makes the result much better.[/mk_mini_callout]


After taking stock of your skills, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I using my strengths to their fullest extent?
  • Am I applying my strengths in the right areas?
  • How can I use my strengths to heighten the capability of my BCM program?
  • How are my weaknesses hindering the success of the program?
  • Are there other individuals on my team who can step in and supplement these areas?
  • Can I use outside resources to support me in these areas?
  • What training or mentorship can I use to strengthen my competence in these areas?

Working from your skillset inventory, build a plan of action to capitalize on each strength and address each weakness that you have identified. Spell out what steps you will take over the next 6 to 12 months to take advantage of your new insights.

[mk_mini_callout]My experience: Remember the example above about giving advice rather than doing? My action plan to improve in that area was to document how many times I logged in to the applications to do something or help my team per week. The goal was to get to zero. Funny how having a goal and writing down results helps. I got to zero in less than two weeks because every time I was tempted to log in and do something, I knew I would have to note it. Often the plan can be quite simple. [/mk_mini_callout]


  • Improving your organization’s BCM program starts with you.
  • Take an inventory of your personal and professional skill sets.
  • Capitalize on your strengths and manage your weaknesses.

Want more advice from our experience building effective BCM programs? Read our post: Lessons from 150 Years of Business Continuity Experience

That concludes our excerpt of Chapter 1 of “10 Keys to a Successful BCM Program,” looking at the first key, “Know Yourself.” In the coming weeks and months, we’ll occasionally return to the ebook, working our way through the remaining 9 keys.

If you’d like to learn more, check out the full ebook now – it is free to download.

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.

Business continuity consulting for today’s leading companies.

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