Helping Santa Save the Day with Business Continuity Management Best Practices

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a story about how our differences can also be our strengths—but it’s also a story about business continuity management best practices.

Santa is caught off guard one stormy Christmas Eve when heavy fog makes it impossible to guide his sleigh and deliver toys to the world’s good little boys and girls. He’s on the verge of canceling his deliveries, disappointing the world’s children, when he realizes that Rudolph’s unusual bright nose can light the night and guide him.

This seems like poor planning on Santa’s part. Bad winter storms should not come as a surprise during winter at The North Pole. Considering the huge stakes, you’d think Santa would be on top of his BCM with well-tested business continuity and disaster recovery plans.

As a gift to Santa this holiday season, here are some best practices for BCM that should be implemented at The North Pole to ensure his mission is completed this holiday season.

  1. Get organized. Santa has a reputation for being detail-oriented, making lists and checking them twice. He should apply the same skills to business continuity management, ensuring every plan is formatted consistently and stored together in one centralized, accessible location.
  2. Focus on function-based recovery strategies. BCM should focus on function-based plans that address high-level problems like what would happen if a toy production facility went down or Santa was unable to drive the sleigh and make deliveries. Specific scenarios aren’t needed. It doesn’t matter if Santa is sick or has a family emergency on Christmas Eve, the outcome is the same: He’s unavailable to drive the sleigh. There needs to be a plan in place to recover functionality and make those deliveries.
  3. Consider third parties. Santa should identify any third parties he needs to get back to business. This includes everyone from the toy-making elves to raw material suppliers needed to operate regularly as well as vendors who may help in event of a crisis, such as alternate teams of flying animals to pull the sled or companies for outsourced toymaking.
  4. Staff. Santa doesn’t need every reindeer and elf to rush to the scene when something goes wrong. Too many staffers or the wrong staffers can get in the way of fixing a problem. Santa’s business continuity and disaster recovery plans should identify essential staff necessary for restoring key functions and have a plan to contact them.
  5. Communication. How will word of a disaster or business interruption get around The North Pole? Santa needs a communication plan, whether it’s a call tree, emails, text or singing birds.
  6. Resources. Picture a blank room. The elves and reindeer will be here for a while. What does Santa need? Go beyond tools and supplies for making toys and think about basics like hay, candy canes and eggnog. What will it take to keep his jolly workforce working?
  7. Alternate locations. What would Santa do if he didn’t have access to his workshop? Santa needs to think about what critical activities go on in that location and where else they might be conducted. Perhaps an alternate location, such as the reindeer barns, might work. Maybe a smaller space can be used for just a few strategic functions.
  8. Organize teams by function. Tasks and teams should be organized by function. For example, there may be three major processes involved in managing the Naughty or Nice List or there may be five teams in the toy quality control department. Know who goes where and what they should be doing.
  9. Centralize documents. Collect all instructions, procedures, and rules in one place so that no one has to guess what to do in a disaster. This includes everything from directions for how to build an Xbox to guidelines for determining who belongs on the Nice List. Have a plan to make data accessible even in the event of an IT outage.
  10. Required functions. Santa doesn’t just hop on his sled Christmas Eve to deliver toys. He is supported by a variety of interdependent departments. There’s transportation (the reindeer that fly the sleigh and the elves that take care of the reindeer and service the sleigh), toy production (including materials sourcing and manufacturing), compliance (monitoring behavior to determine Naughty or Nice List Placement), fulfillment (tracking Letters from Santa for requests, ensuring the necessary items are produced, and ensuring delivery to the right party), and PR and event management (scheduling Santa’s appearances and those of his helpers), among others.
    Santa should determine which functions are absolutely critical and study the relationship between them to uncover interdependencies. Santa should also consider recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) of interdependent functions when setting  RTOs and RPOs. For example, elves won’t be able to resume toy production until raw materials are available.

Following these business continuity management best practices will help Santa avoid a last-minute scramble to solve business continuity and disaster-related issues and help him sleigh all day.

Happy holidays from everyone at Ncontracts!

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