Effective Business Continuity Management requires acceptance and understanding at all levels of an organisation. During the chaos and confusion created in a crisis, it is easy for fear and panic to take over, and this can completely change the way some people handle different scenarios. Here I outline some of the key considerations and proactive steps that organisations should take in order to curb the chaos during a crisis. In the event of an incident, there is bound to be a degree of panic and confusion and, in this atmosphere, it is easy for people to misunderstand what their responsibilities are. This is why it is so important that in a continuity plan, there is a clearly designated crisis management team and that every member understands their role.
Designating these roles and assigning responsibilities is usually the task of the Crisis Management Team; which is made up of the Business Continuity Manager, senior decision-makers and key business unit representatives. Another key psychological hurdle is ensuring that designated staff have the requisite authority to declare an incident or a disaster and that those qualified understand this and have the confidence to invoke business continuity plans. An effective response to a crisis requires teams to lead and support recovery and response operations, and therefore there must be a clearly defined authority structure between the Crisis Management Team and business units.
An effective BCP, as with any successful strategy, requires practice, practice, and more practice. BCPs should be regularly tested and appraised, and the plans’ accuracy, relevance and effectiveness should be assessed – only then can organisations fully understand which areas need improvement and which are not performing properly under the stress of a crisis. The key for any organisation facing a crisis is to quickly identify the problem, and remediate it in as little time as possible, and with minimal risk to individuals’ safety, as well as minimal impact on customers, stakeholders and overall reputation.

Matt Gordon-Smith is Attenda's Director of Security, with responsibility for all areas of security within the business, from its data centres, to the standards built into Attenda's platforms, services and client solutions. About UsBCW (Business Computing World) is a leading point of communications between business technology leaders and their audiences. In order for it to be successful there must be management buy-in and investment, and a well-thought out strategic plan. Planning for these reactions and barriers helps to ensure a successful implementation of Business Continuity and can help to reduce disruption and the time between the incident and remediation. Individual’s reactions during a crisis can vary widely and even with the best laid plans the idiosyncrasies of human nature can take effect. This must also filter down to staff across the organisation, from department to department, with each team and its members fully understanding what is expected from them. Not only will this team ensure that roles are defined and assigned, but it will also guarantee senior management commitment, putting business continuity at the top of the agenda. Business continuity plans can run smoothly and efficiently only when all employees and staff are fully briefed on the contents of the BCP and understand their roles and responsibilities in terms of hierarchy. A common problem with BCPs is that once they are put together they are simply not rehearsed.
It must take into consideration the all-important psychological factors, such as participants’ performance, attitude, decisiveness, command, coordination, communication, and control. However, when it comes to business continuity the expression ‘you’re only as good as your people’ is a fundamental truth and needs to take into account the reality of human behaviour in responding to a crisis.

Matt is a seasoned senior security leader with experience across many IT managed services and outsourcing companies including IBM, Siemens, Verizon Business and Savvis. It provides knowledge sharing and networking opportunities to help business technology leaders be more effective in communicating analysis and insight on information technology trends, to help the understanding of IT's role in achieving business goals.
However one aspect that’s often overlooked, but which is of significant importance, is the psychological and physiological factors that can have a major impact during a crisis. Failing to address these can have a negative impact on managing the aftermath of an incident. This will then help to limit confusion and reduce the time it takes from the incident occurring, to recovery.
An organisation can have as complex and thorough strategy, however unless it is regularly exercised, there is a significant risk that it simply won’t be effective in a real life incident. Confidence is key and the ability for staff to make well thought out, strategic decisions will ultimately be a company’s saving grace.
Matt has experience in many different facets of security, across various industry sectors and working closely with clients to address their individual security needs.

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