Which was the last terrible software application you used? And have you noticed how easy to use many government websites have become? – at least, in countries like Australia, the UK, and the US. In both cases, user experience is often at the heart of what makes such utilisation a pleasure or a pain. Software that doesn’t show you the right options at the right time, or that makes you jump through cyber hoops to get what you want, is often software that ends up on the shelf (also known as “shelfware”). Conversely, interfaces that are clear, simple and productive can make many processes including paying your taxes almost pleasurable. There is a key lesson in this for business continuity managers.

As a manager responsible for the business continuity in your department, business unit or company, you want everybody to be aware of and practice business continuity. Your BC plans may be brilliant, but if they are indigestible to those who will be called on to put them into action, your enterprise may grind to a halt anyway. The people who made the ISO 22301 standard for business continuity were sensible enough to see the importance of the user experience and to make appropriate recommendations. In particular, they indicate that user-focused documents are a priority, making smaller, clearer plans preferable compared to a large, auditor-style document.

However, you don’t have to be William Shakespeare or Marcel Proust (in fact, definitely not Proust) to be able to put together a short, easy-to-use BC plan. When testing time comes around, check to see how easy it is for users to follow the plan, as well as the effectiveness of the results achieved. Test your own reactions, for example, the next time you download an app, any app, for your smartphone. If you feel like throwing it away after you try to start using it, think about why it’s bad and avoid that in your plans. If it’s good, see how it helps you and put those aspects into your BC plans instead.