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Merleen Yap: My Experience as a Business Continuity Professional

Merleen is a Manager with the Enterprise Risk Services practice of Deloitte Singapore.

She shares with us on her role as a Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP), her daily work and why she chose this as her career.

You graduated with a Bachelor of Accountancy from University of New South Wales, how did you learn about Business Continuity Management (BCM)?

I was assisting my manager in a BCM engagement for an insurance company that was looking for assistance in assessing the gaps of their BCM implementation. That was when I started, and I have never stopped thinking about BCM since.  I went to register for the 5-day DRI Business Continuity Planning course to learn more about BCM and get myself certified as a CBCP.

What is your biggest challenge as your role in business continuity professional?

Some clients compare the templates used by the different companies/consultants and question the differences. I always tell them that there are many different templates in the market but most importantly, we need to address the key BCM elements. I will help them to customise/ review the template and tell them what the required inputs are.

What are the common misconceptions that others have about your role?

“I thought you’re from that accounting firm? You’re not an accountant?” – I’m in the risk consulting line in Deloitte, and I am not an accountant. We do more than just audits!

emergency-309725_640What are the common misconceptions that others have about BCM?

Some companies think that BCM means having fire emergency plan and a very brief evacuation plan detailing what they would need to do at the assembly area. Some thought that if they have some form of contingency plan in place, that’s a “good BCM” in place. When we implement the ISO 22301 BCM programme for them, only then they realise how intensive and thought provoking the process of putting BCM in place can be with the aim to build the resiliency of the operations.

What is your favourite advice about BCM?

There is no perfect plan. BCP is like an acting script. Everyone in the script will know what to do/not to do when crisis is activated.

What is your greatest reward in your role as a BCP consultant?

Seeing my clients being more aware about the importance of BCM and truly appreciating the beauty of business continuity management. Some even signed up for a CBCP course or to get their organisations certified in ISO 22301.

Where do you hope to see organisations in 5 years’ time?

I hope to see more people being educated about the importance of BCM, and how the skills of BCM are useful in preparing and handling incidents/crises.

In most organisations the people who are better versed in BCM are usually the BCM function/BCM Managers/BCM Champions.

To me, BCM can apply to everyone. There is one particular client who saw the value in the BCM engagement Deloitte did for them and he went and shared with his organisation all the insights of incident handling/crisis management that we shared from around the world. I hope that more people get interested in the topic and we can help them satisfy their inquisitiveness and interest.

If you are interested in submitting your own experience to Thrive! please review our questions here.

Learning about the Key Difference between Plans and Planning in Business Continuity


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‘Plans are nothing; planning is everything’. This famous quote from Eisenhower, military supremo and later President of the United States, needs some further explanation – but it’s worth paying attention for anyone who wants to put solid business continuity in place. Eisenhower’s meaning was that while you need a plan, the plan must remain flexible and open to any required changes; and that the process itself of planning is as valuable as the documents it produces along the way. This is a fundamental theme of the one-day DRI course on Business Plan Exercise, Audit and Maintenance (BCOE-800) that also includes further related topics.

Besides emphasising the need to maintain business continuity plans and planning, the BCOE-800 course also discusses the requirements to exercise and test them. The timeliness and quality of the response of a business continuity team depends on practical experience of putting those plans into action. The course therefore covers a range of testing and exercise programs. It includes training on how to develop them for your organisation and how to communicate the results for subsequent improvement. At the same time, participants review audit processes related to BC planning and best practice for developing plans that are synchronised with the strategic direction of their enterprise or organisation.

Auditors, coordinators of business continuity and disaster recovery actions, and business unit heads are among those who will find this practically oriented course valuable. More than books and theory, it puts business continuity planning firmly into the context of real business life and its constant change. You’ll come away with the information needed to make sure that business continuity measures stay sufficient, plans remain current, and other members of the organisation receive timely reminders and refreshers through appropriate business continuity plan tests and exercises.