Enhancing Stakeholder Engagement in Business Continuity

Enhancing Stakeholder Engagement in Business Continuity

Often, we hear the phrase “It’s all about the people!” when it comes to describing what makes a company great, how vibrant a city or community is, how good the services of an airline are or how successful a project is.

It’s no different when it comes to building business continuity capability or working towards a broader goal of organisational resilience. You can have the best plans and most sophisticated technology and tools for recovery but if the people who need to make things happen are not engaged, not competent, not supportive or simply do not buy into what you’re trying to achieve, you’ll fail.

The discipline of stakeholder engagement is not new. It is used extensively in large infrastructure development projects, public relations, ICT project management and so on. AS ISO 22301:2017, the international standard for Business Continuity Management (BCM), highlights the necessity to consider the needs and requirements of ‘interested parties’ throughout the BCM life-cycle.

The structured approach to stakeholder engagement involves:

  1. Identifying who the stakeholders are;
  2. For each stakeholder, identifying what their objectives, concerns and needs are in relation to business continuity;
  3. Using Mendelow’s Matrix to identify how much ‘power’ (i.e. their ability to influence) and ‘interest’ (i.e. how interested they are) does each stakeholder have on the BCM program;
  4. Using the matrix to inform the best ways to engage with the stakeholder before, during and after a disruptive event.

Source of diagram: Stakeholder Engagement 1stedition, RICS Professional Guidance, UK

To supplement the power/interest analysis above, it can be useful to conduct a stakeholder analysis using the acronym ‘RASCI’. This acronym identifies individuals or groups of stakeholders and their roles and responsibilities in the context of a specific task, process or project.

This helps to classify stakeholders in a chart or matrix into the following roles:
R– Responsible: Who is responsible for carrying out the task, process or project?
A– Accountable (also can be the Approver): Who is responsible for the whole task, process or project?
S– Supportive: Who provides help during implementation of the task, process or project?
C– Consultative: Who can provide valuable advice or needs to be consulted during the task, process or project?
I– Informative: Who should be informed about the progress and decisions about the task, process or project?

Effective engagement with stakeholders throughout the BCM lifecycle is important to:

  • Ensure the business continuity needs and requirements of the stakeholders, and how they interface with the organisation, are taken into consideration;
  • Obtain the buy-in and support of stakeholders;
  • Build the confidence and trust of stakeholders;
  • Develop a shared understanding of expectations and obligations;
  • Enable better planned and informed policies, programs and services, and implementation of recovery solutions and response plans.