Measuring Up: Why Metrics Are Important for Your BCM Program

Richard Long

Here’s a modest proposal that will save basketball fans and their families a great deal of time and stress over the next month.

As you probably know, the NBA Conference Finals just got underway, with the Celtics and Cavaliers dueling in the Eastern conference finals and the Rockets and Warriors playing to determine the champs of the Western Conference. Then the winning teams will face each other in a best out of seven series to determine the league champion.

But unfortunately, along the way basketball fans will have to experience a lot of anxiety and aggravation while throwing away many hours of their lives which they can never get back.

There’s an easier way.

Why doesn’t the NBA, instead of holding all those games, just collect the four teams’ practice records and award the championship to which ever has spent the most time doing shooting drills?

It would be quick, efficient, and over in 15 minutes.

And clearly there’s a direct correlation between which team conducts the most practice drills and which plays the best, right?

Wrong, obviously.

You see what this would amount to, right? Awarding the title based on a metric that is only of limited, private significance to each team (within the context of its efforts to improve), instead of based on a metric that really does matter, namely which team performs the best through all the matchups of the playoffs and finals.

Unfortunately, this is the approach many business continuity managers take in quantifying and measuring aspects of their program.

 

Interested in more information on doing metrics the right way? MHA Consulting CEO Michael Herrera discussed metrics recently in an insightful post over on the BCMMETRICS blog,  You’re Doing It Wrong: BCM Metrics.

 

A lot of BCM managers have gotten the message that metrics are important for assessing the state of their program and making improvements. However, many measure the wrong things. Or rather they measure things that are important in a limited, internal way, but they don’t measure the things that really count.

Below, in no particular order, are a few observations on why metrics are important, some common mistakes BCM professionals make in using metrics, and the metrics that matter most.

  • A lot of BCM people still don’t see the point of metrics. They say things like, “I know what I need to do to improve my program; why should I spend time measuring?”
  • Many people avoid using metrics because they are worried their programs have weaknesses which they won’t be able to fix, and they don’t want to know how bad things are.
  • Metrics are important because they enable us to actively know what’s going on with our programs. They help us see what the most important issues are and where we should focus our efforts.
  • Metrics enable us to provide appropriate feedback to management, so they have good information to utilize in making decisions.
  • Metrics provide a rational means for apportioning funding and evaluating the results.
  • Metrics are often required to comply with BC standards.
  • Unfortunately, most people who are diligent about keeping metrics tend to measure the wrong things.
  • The most common mistake BCM professionals make in their use of metrics is, they measure things for the purpose of showing that they have been busy rather than measuring things which provide actionable insight into the state of their programs.
  • What are the most common metrics that BCM people keep? Ones showing how many tasks they have performed, such as the number of business impact analyses done, the number of risk assessments performed, the number of plans generated, and the number of training exercises held.
  • The type of information noted above is not useless, but its value is limited. It’s similar to the metric mentioned earlier concerning how many shooting drills a basketball team does. That type of information might be useful for tweaking the team’s use of its practice time, but it’s not something that counts in the ultimate sense.
  • In business continuity, what counts in the ultimate sense is, Can you recover the business in the event of a disruption and how quickly?—along with the various sub-elements that make up that capability.
  • At MHA, we put functional ability ahead of performing lots of tasks every time in diagnosing and improving our clients’ BC programs. You should, too. And the metrics you use should reflect this emphasis.
  • Basically, what you want to measure are what you might call functional metrics. Read on for a discussion of what those are.

 

Functional Metrics

Functional metrics are ones that provide meaningful, actionable insight into the state of your program.

Here are some examples of functional metrics:

  • The percentage of critical applications that have been validated for your disaster recovery strategy.
  • The number of business processes that have been tested and verified for your BC plan strategies.
  • What percentage of your critical applications were validated in a recent exercise.
  • The number of application integrations that have been verified or documented.

Do you see the difference between these metrics and the more commonly used ones such as how many BIAs you’ve performed? Metrics recording how many BIAs you’ve performed or how many exercises you’ve held simply testify to how much effort your team has put in. Functional metrics speak in a substantive way to the level of executability in your program.

Basically, you need not only to work hard, but also to work smart.

Measure things that provide you with substantive insight into the state of your program—and then act on what you find out to make more intelligent use of your resources, make the case for additional resources, if necessary, and to strengthen your program overall.

What’s going to decide the NBA Finals this year is not which team spends the most time in the gym or the most time watching film, but which team wins the most.

Likewise, in your BCM program, what matters most is not how many BIAs you do or how many plans you write, but how well your program will recover your organization in the event of a disruption.

Yes, you should incorporate metrics into your program.

You should also make sure those metrics gather meaningful information about the state of your program—and then use that information to make the program better.

Further Reading

MHA Consulting CEO Michael Herrera has an excellent discussion of metrics in his new ebook, 10 Keys to a Peak-Performing BCM Program. You can download the whole book for free here . (See “Chapter 4: Measure and Manage.”)

 

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