Ostriches are known for burying their heads in the sand, when danger approaches. Shut out the signs and the stimuli, and you shut out the danger, or so ostrich logic goes. Business continuity ostriches take a similar approach. The signs they fear are the comparisons between their BC planning and management, and those of other organisations. In part one of this blog post, we looked at ways of measuring business continuity performance internally. Now in part two, it’s time to look at how external measures might reveal some truths that are hard to swallow, but that must be heeded. Paradoxically, that shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for ostriches, known for their propensity to swallow all manner of objects…

Benchmarking is about comparing like with like, and seeing if you are doing better or worse. Comparing like with like can start with organisational size and complexity. Some benchmarking approaches are therefore based on categorisation, splitting the business spectrum into different classes of business from the small business with modest ICT implementations, to the large corporation with complex technology and governance requirements. Other benchmarks are born of business continuity standards, indicating how well different aspects of a given standard are observed and implemented.

Whatever the approach, benchmarks are also the product of surveys. Somebody (possibly an independent marketing or consultancy organisation) must ask a sufficiently large number of enterprises or government agencies about how far they have got in their BC preparations and testing. Areas of BC for benchmarking include budgeting and personnel used, maturity of the BC approach, use of vendor solutions and organisational certification.

By answering the same questions for your own organisation and comparing with the survey averages (benchmarks), you can tell more about your own BC status. Should you be alarmed if your evaluation differs from that of the organisations surveyed? Any differences (and even any similarities) should always be questioned, even if valid explanations and justifications are found afterwards. However, checking BC benchmarks and questioning what you find also puts you not just one step, but two steps in front of the ostriches, and increases your chances of continuity and survival.