Where Should Business Continuity Management Live?

Where in your company orgchart should you put BCM? The quick answer is ‘in the business continuity department’. However, unlike marketing, sales, production and so on, business continuity doesn’t always benefit from being a department in its own right. You could tackle the question by putting business continuity management in the department where it first started. You could put it in an area that reflects the way that BCM has grown from a technology-centric consideration to an enterprise-wide concern. You could even make it a direct responsibility of your organisation’s CEO or at least a C-level function like the CFO, CIO and so on. But which of these possibilities makes the most sense?

Business continuity management started some time ago in the IT department. Disaster recovery management that was initially centred on the data centre gave rise to new ideas. These were not just about reacting to disasters, but also preventing them from happening in the first place. The scope of continuity grew as well as organisations came to realise that interruptions could potentially happen anywhere, and not just in IT. As a result, some CIOs have seen how board-level interest in BCM has risen and have been pushing for BCM to remain within the IT remit.

In other cases, BCM has been integrated into the risk management function of the organisation. The advantage is to broaden the application of BCM to make sure that the whole enterprise benefits. However the greatest visibility for this essential function may come from having a CBCO (Chief Business Continuity Officer) at a peer level to the CIO. How many organisations are willing to take this step remains to be seen. What they should avoid however is simply positioning BCM as ‘everyone’s responsibility’ without a clearly designated manager or director to coordinate and drive BCM across the business. So choose the home for BCM that makes most sense for your situation – and is therefore not homeless.

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