By Sungard AS
If you need help picking the best partner to develop a robust business continuity plan, you need to ask some serious questions. We have a "top 10" list of questions we recommend asking. The first five have to do with the provider company as a whole – we presented those in Part 1 of this two-part series. Now, let's go a bit deeper – into the people who would potentially be servicing your business.
Don't forget to ask about the people who will actually be coming to your site or otherwise interacting with and supporting you:
What is their level of experience – on a personal level?
Have they worked with other companies in your industry so that they are familiar with the unique issues and risks you may be facing?
Do they have applicable certifications in the field to validate their skills?
You want to avoid the trap of having experienced people "sell" the services to you, only to find that you are getting serviced by rookies in the field. You don't want to be someone's training ground.
We've already talked about the need to have a holistic resiliency mindset and approach in Part 1. Now, you need to make it more specific: does the provider understand the big picture for your business?
You want a provider who will learn your business from top to bottom: all the IT systems and networks, the business processes, the organizational structure, the physical facilities, the communications capabilities … all of it. Only then will the business continuity plan they develop be truly integrated and aligned with your business needs.
Such a provider will be able to sit across the table from you, listen to your strategic goals and objectives for the business, and make recommendations for how to adjust your business continuity plan to encompass any growth or change in the company.
High-level, benefit-oriented presentations are a necessary part of the selling process. But after you've had the PowerPoint presentation and demo, probe a bit deeper. Ask the provider to talk about the nitty-gritty of how things will get done. Request that they walk you through the process step by step.
What you want to determine is whether the provider is all talk, or if they can deliver. Most importantly, you want to make sure that the process they follow will work for your organization and result in the outcomes you need.
The provider is, in many ways, holding the future of your business in their hands. You want to have good communication at every step in the process: not just during the planning stages or as you're initially executing on those plans, but ongoing throughout the relationship.
For example, you will want to have conversations about changes that are occurring in the business – IT changes, process changes, mergers, and acquisitions, new locations, new products, etc. You will want the provider to keep you up to date with changes to industry standards, new security measures, or technology options that could benefit your company.
Communication brings confidence – on both sides – that the business continuity program is complete and robust.
Finally, you want people who are adaptable. Business continuity management is not a static field. There are new trends, new threats, new risks, new technologies, and new solutions coming out constantly.
The people you work with should be familiar with the current news in the industry, and able to translate what that news means for you. Change shouldn't be treated as an irritation or an obstacle but embraced as a normal part of the business.
These questions aren't the only ones you'll need to ask as you go about choosing a business continuity partner, but they are critical to ask at the start. They will provide you with a solid foundation before you go on to ask the specific questions that pertain directly to your business and your situation.
Ultimately, these questions will help you pick the best partner to develop a robust business continuity plan – a partner who will deliver the resiliency and confidence you need to propel your business forward.
Related Business Solution: Speak to one of our business continuity consultants