Choosing a business continuity consultant - what to look for

It can be a daunting task to select an organisation to advise on the development of a business continuity plan.  Here a few pointers in terms of the key things you should look for in a business continuity consultant.

Knowing what really works.

Do your conversations with the consultant and the content on their website create the impression of practical business continuity capability or do you see or hear words like these:: "compliance", "standards" and "best practice guidelines". If they can't talk to to you in your own language and help you understand the steps you need to take to develop an effective business continuity plan - then beware. Using these phrases may indicate that the consultant is heavily focussed on a following a process and providing you with a "cookie cutter" approach.  Compliance based approaches to business continuity plan development tend to focus on following a process and producing documents that "prove" the process has been followed. This is all well and good if you have developed business continuity capabilities that work and you then want to be accredited to a particular standard (providing of course, that there is commercial value to that). However an approach based purely on process compliance will not necessarily give you the capabilities you need when an unexpected disaster strikes.  A business continuity consultant should take the time understand your situation and will adopt an approach that you should feel comfortable with.

Knowing they need your expertise as well as theirs

Recognising that they need YOU to develop the plan A business continuity consultant should never assume that they know your business better than you. They should bring insights to the project but they can never really know your business, your industry sector your systems and your organisation better than you. What they should be able to do is facilitate the development of your own people to grow the business continuity capability of your organisation. To do that a business continuity consultant should be able to demonstrate that hey can help with specialist expertise on specific aspects of your business continuity capabilities such as advising on incident communications frameworks,  identifying common tripwires that can occur when the plan is invoked (stopping you making the same mistakes as others). But they defer to the fact that the detailed knowledge of how your processes work will be within your organisation and that leveraging this knowledge will help to create plans that will work for you and at much less cost.

Flexibility of delivery

They should be able to tailor the approach to manage your risk.  Engaging a third party to work with your organisation always involves a level of uncertainty - unless you know the individual well. Can they structure the delivery of your project so that you can manage spend and pace. A business continuity consultant should provide a delivery model that helps you manage your risk and commitment

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Is the Business Continuity Consultant interested in YOUR needs?

A business continuity consultant should seek to find out WHY you need a business continuity plan. A business continuity plan is, of course, something all organisations should have to keep their people safe,  survive a crisis and preserve their brand and reputation. But there may be imperatives such as an urgent need to have something in place to demonstrate to a third party that something is being done (and you know your current plan won't stand up to scrutiny). In this case, it's often more helpful to have quick gap analysis performed and to then develop a  remediation plan, to demonstrate that something is actually being done. If you are in this position why not save time and money and use our business continuity plan checklist to assess the scope and content of your current plan and arrangements

What is the Business Continuity Consultants legacy?

A business continuity consultant should leave your organisation stronger and more capable of dealing with the unexpected. it's therefore really important to establish whether they will leave you with something that your people have the skills to maintain efficiently and effectively.  This means that practical resources are developed during the project and that these resources can be easily used and maintained throughout your organisation