Providing the right information upfront will mean that organisations get the right proposal from their business continuity management services provider and will avoid unnecessary to-ing and fro-ing.
By Braam Pretorius, General Manager, Sales and Client Services, ContinuitySA
We all know that the right business continuity management solution is vital in building organisational resilience in today’s tough climate. To do that, the initial proposal on which the contract is based is obviously critical.
However, it’s been my observation that this initial phase can be unnecessarily prolonged as the proposal goes back and forth between the two parties. From every point of view, this is not ideal—not least because it starts the relationship between the service provider and client off on a bad note.
The most common reason for this mismatch is that clients do not fully understand what they want, and thus use the proposal process to help them puzzle it out. This is understandable as, for them, this may be the first time that they are having to think about business continuity and resilience.
The key here is to communicate your needs properly from the get-go. Following something like the journalist’s “Why, who, what, where, when, how?” routine will do the job every time:
- Why do you want a business continuity plan and supplier? Most organisations are “prompted” by an event: an incident that they couldn’t recover from, a red flag from their auditors or a third party, such as the JSE, or the client need to adhere to an ISO standard or a regulator requirement. Understanding this will tell the business continuity provider a great deal about the scope and intent of the proposal.
- Who will oversee the business continuity management solution? If there is no proper executive sponsor, it is very likely that the request for a proposal will be inadequate. If the provider knows this, it can be addressed upfront to save time and effort.
- What do you want? Here’s where it is important to be honest. All too often, organisations give very low specifications in order to save money or because they do not really understand the realities. For example, a client might ask for a proposal for a 10-seat call centre recovery facility hoping that the other 30 agents would be able to work from home. When a disaster strikes, and this proves to be impossible, they assume that the provider will be able to provide an extra number of seats if needed but often this is not possible.
- When must the business continuity plan be ready and implemented? Frequently, there is a looming deadline such as a year-end or a listing; knowing this will mean the proposal can be crafted to meet the deadline, perhaps with a second phase scheduled for later.
- How much is the budget? Again, it’s critical to be upfront about this. A Rolls-Royce solution costs more than a Mazda. If, however, you are buying a Mazda, let’s make sure it’s assembled to meet your needs exactly.
A final word of advice: before a proposal is requested, it is essential that both parties visit each other’s premises. This will help the service provider understand the scope of the client’s operations and give an insight into some of the risks, while seeing the service provider’s data centre, control room and work-area recovery facilities will show the client what could be achieved.
A good proposal is the foundation for a successful, longstanding partnership!
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