Part 5 Road to Resilience Series - Program Plan
Purposeful program planning
In this fifth part of the Road to Resilience Series – Program Plan, I focus on governance. It’s the system and mechanisms used to operate a program, including accountability. To determine what your program should look like for your organization, we established that you need to develop a strategy and vision. Additionally, I said you need to know the regulations or other requirements to apply to your company’s resilience initiative. If you haven’t checked out the rest of the series, I recommend reviewing the Vision, Strategy, and Program Requirements blogs.
Creating a program plan gives you a structure to build on, direction to follow and enables clear communication across the enterprise. Additionally, it is a platform to report program maturity and compliance. It also provides a top-down view of initiatives, along with the ability to share micro details. A roadmap allows you to standardize your entire organization and allocate resources to maximize efficiency. Finally, a framework assists program management while tracking progress to align with the future state vision.
Importance of program planning
Program plans are organized at a high level to provide direction and give a defined shape. By this, I mean that you might quickly go off track or experience scope creep without it. Instead, by establishing a clear directive, you align customers rather than being at odds with you. Simply put, guidelines develop standard definitions and a singular methodology.
However, a roadmap does not mean eliminating flexibility. The program elements you enable are a framework and allow for customer variability. Beyond that, there are two main reasons for program planning: eliminating waste and tracking performance while targeting objectives. You aim to understand performance and correct any issues within these parameters.
Creating a workplan
The hard part of program development is putting together a work plan. It’s an execution plan of how the organization needs to change and why it’s necessary. Leverage it to achieve the strategic vision. One resource I recommend is the Project Management Institute’s Best practices–the nine elements to success article. It is a worthwhile read and gives you simple project status tracking tools. Another is a post by Alex York on Project Management Best Practices. These provide tips to get you started or improve your project management capabilities.
Many software platforms can help you document, track, and manage a program. A simple Excel spreadsheet can work. Mainly, you want an accountability system. I recently tuned into a webcast by Todd De Voe with three emergency management experts talking about aviation. I heard them stressing that good emergency managers excel at project management. It’s not an attribute that I would have emphasized, but it’s true. It’s a focus area and approach we can all use.
How program governance keeps things on track
Experts define resilience in a multitude of ways. It is essential to understand what stakeholders like the board, senior leadership, and other vital contributors value. Understanding what is important to them will assist you in developing a solid program foundation. Some think resilience equals operational reliability. Instead, I suggest that resilience is a continuum that enables the business to embrace a preventative focus that also carries through to successful recovery when events happen.
The work done on blue sky days when no events occur is as crucial as how the company responds to a crisis. To imbed an ongoing readiness planning includes administrative activities like testing or exercising. It also benefits from a governance committee. Installing leadership champions at the right level protects the program from veering off course or being dominated by self-interested parties. You can check out many sources to help you build an effective governance model, but a place to start is reading Nicholas J Price’s 2018 Diligent article How to Build a Strong Governance Model. He outlines steps and references Deliotte’s Developing an effective governance operating model. Both are good reads whose basic ideas apply to any industry.
ISO support for BC, Security & Resilience
Previously, I spoke about ensuring that the program you create aligns with applicable external regulations and recommendations. As mentioned in the strategy blog, two ISO standards apply to resilience programs. The updated ISO 22301 for business continuity provides streamlined content and shares how BC can contribute to organizational resilience initiatives. ISO 22316 is a newer standard for any industry to promote resilient organizations.
The standard states that organizational resilience is the ability of an organization to absorb and adapt in a changing environment to enable it to deliver its objectives and to survive and prosper. More resilient organizations can anticipate and respond to threats and opportunities, arising from sudden or gradual changes in their internal and external context. Enhancing resilience can be a strategic organizational goal, and is the outcome of good business practice and effectively managing risk. So, it makes sense to align these attributes during program design while considering external requirements and stakeholder input with your recommendations.
Putting it all together
In this Road to Resilience series – Program Plan segment, I’ve shared the overall goal of creating clear guidelines and timelines. Advancing resiliency means that our programs are no longer simply reactive but crafted to respond to crises that any company must inevitably face. But more than just response, a resilience program prepares your business to handle challenging situations and rebound faster.
Tomorrow’s program is no longer a dream but realizable today. Increased readiness begins with developing or retooling your program to withstand significant crises. One of the greatest emerging risks is a black sky day. A widespread power outage, a black sky event, is when more than 90% of a utility’s customers experience outages of more than 25 days. The hazard is not new on our radar. But, we are increasingly concerned about the potential severe risk to today’s work environments. Resilience succeeds because it helps us turn a recovery framework into a viable operating model.
What's next in the series
We’ve covered essential topics in this series. The goal is to assist the newbie or veteran in developing a next-level program. In this edition of the Road to Resilience series – Program Plan, I want to help you craft a solid structure.
Next, I’ll help you build markers and measures to track success. You can’t know your program’s status unless you measure it. The blog will emphasize the critical features of quantifying goals and identifying gaps for improvement. So, engaging in performance measurement helps highlight whether the program achieves its set objectives.