Additional Observations on Using the BIA to Pitch Management
Let me share a few more points as to why the preliminary BIA may be the most important part of your plan:
- First and foremost, you will not secure support and funding for an expensive and time-consuming project unless management knows what you are trying to protect.
- Katrina and Rita are old news, but who knows what will happen by the time this article publishes? Will you have a plan in 2011 because of the events of 2010? My experience says “maybe.” Barring some cataclysm between the time of writing and when you read this, count on “selling” disaster recovery to be an uphill battle in your organization.
I base my somewhat pessimistic assessment on personal experience.
In 1991, I was asked to come to Tel Aviv Israel to teach a seminar about disaster recovery planning based on one of my books. My first reaction was shock. It seemed to me that the Israelis should be teaching me, not the other way around. The prospect of going to the Holy Land was absolutely intriguing to me, so I accepted the assignment.
I arrived only three months after the start of the first Gulf War. The locals told me that if I had arrived only days earlier, they would have given me a gas mask to wear at Ben Gurion Airport. I also met many wonderful friends after my arrival, and for most of them the memory of taping up plastic to create a “safe room” in their homes (from poison gas attack) was clearly a very recent memory.
After going to work, I was greeted by a number of highly educated and technically savvy Israeli nationals who had believed the recent war was their ticket to a most profitable seminar. After all, what could be more compelling to the Israeli financial community and all the banks that operate in Tel Aviv than a war? Even after “9-11,” we as Americans are relative lightweights in comparison to what these folks have had to endure. Most of the people I met actually saw the Scud missiles come down. I got to see where they came down.
Contrary to what was being reported on CNN and other media (that the missiles were falling into the desert or being shot down by Patriot missiles), I saw three missile craters. They all hit the center of the city. One was where an apartment building used to stand. Each crater was undoubtedly a most compelling “advertisement” for contingency planning.
Interestingly enough, the people who were hosting this seminar told me that when they telemarketed the seminar, the most common response they got was “Oh, that will never happen to me!” Ultimately, “only” 44 people signed up for the seminar. For me I was delighted; that’s a pretty good turnout by U.S. standards. The local seminar hosts literally expected hundreds to attend.
What does this little story tell you about human nature? What does it tell you about what to expect when you try to “sell” disaster recovery to someone who has not recently been in a war? I suppose it tells you that even the most visible and widespread disasters become almost passáe with the passage of only a relatively short time. It was then, when I realized the human aspect of trying to sell disaster recovery in this context that I realized I had better learn a lot more about selling the concept!
Still, all is not hopeless. In fact, management needs only four things to support and fund your effort. These include:
- What can happen?
- What is the percentage of probability that it can happen?
- What does it cost when it happens? (Think both productivity and sales.)
- What does it cost to make the problem go away?
As you can probably deduce, the “devil is in the details.” And it’s precisely thatthe detailsyou will find in Part 2 of this series.