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Tips for obtaining BC/DR plan and resilience funding

Creating a comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery plan is no joke, and funding those services can add another hurdle to your company's IT resilience strategy.

It may be necessary to augment your existing business continuity, disaster recovery, security and other resilience-focused activities with something that requires additional funding.

This augmentation usually means an investment in BC/DR and resilience resources. These resources may include specialized BC/DR plan software, expanded data backup, additional hardware or advisory services. Unless sufficient money is in the budget and management approval is likely, it may be necessary to initiate an investment in these resources.

The following tips will help you identify, justify, fund and procure resources to support your BC/DR plan and related resilience activities.

Understand current business requirements and activities

While your activities may focus on BC/DR and related issues, remember that your work must be focused on the needs of the business. If you can determine that the investment you wish to make will have a positive impact on the business and achievement of its objectives, that's a good way to get started.

To get a better idea of your business requirements, take a closer look at how your organization's activities are being performed. Are your activities performed mostly with manual tasks, supported by word processing, spreadsheets and graphics software? Maybe you are using a legacy system, but the results are less than favorable. What kinds of changes have you identified that will improve your team's outputs? What additional resources will be needed to get you where you want to be? Knowing the answers to these questions is an excellent way to gauge the focus for your BC/DR plan.

Once you have identified one or more products or services that you and your team feel can increase your success, determine how those investments will affect how you operate. Be sure to document items like your current and desired operations with a gap analysis, and use the results to help identify the kind of product that makes the most sense.

Evaluating options

In the course of performing the above activity, it's also a good idea to examine how your proposed BC/DR plan may affect other established activities, such as cybersecurity and risk management. Will they benefit from your choice, or will they have to make changes in their procedures to accommodate you?

Once you've identified the type of BC/DR plan that best supports your needs, find out what products and services are available that can support your requirements.

Once you've identified the type of BC/DR plan that best supports your needs, find out what products and services are available that can support your requirements. Plenty of ways are available to research this, from using a search engine to identify options to reviewing research reports from companies such as Gartner, KPMG and Deloitte. Research reports provide analytical insights that may be helpful when you prepare justification statements for presentation to management.

Obtain proposals from selected vendors, and prepare tables that compare vendors using various criteria, such as features, warranties, maintenance, installation, training, documentation, acceptance testing and price.

Discuss financial implications and procurement

Next, meet with someone from your organization's finance or accounting department to understand how the company evaluates proposed investments from a financial perspective. This guidance will help you perform an initial comparison of competitors and their pricing. If you need to narrow the candidates to five or less, this exercise should be useful. It may also help you better prepare documents for review by the financial departments.

In most organizations, someone or a department will be delegated to managing the procurement process. This is essential so that employees don't buy items on their own and possibly pay a higher price. The procurement department is also important, for example, in government agencies, as they ensure that procurement policies and procedures are correctly followed.

Determine your budget and priorities

If you maintain your own budget, you'll know what is available for procurements. Personally, you may have the ability to sign for items up to a specific dollar amount. If what you want to procure is above your signing authority, you'll probably need to go through a more detailed authorization process. Perhaps you can shift funds from one cost center to another to cover the investment you want to make.

The other part of your BC/DR plan investment is funding that may be available for your project outside of your department. These funds may be designated for Capex and other nonbudget items. For these, you may find yourself competing with other colleagues for funding, so your proposal must be clear and concise and present your request in the best possible light. IT resilience is a critical part of protecting your company and preparing it for a smooth recovery, but many organizations are still reluctant to spend money on something they hope to never need. Be sure that your proposal emphasizes what can happen without a BC/DR plan in place.

Another aspect of competing for nonbudgeted funding is to identify if there are any existing company priorities for how Capex funds may be invested. The procurement team or possibly the financial departments may be able to help here.

How to move your proposal up the approval ladder

Recognizing that your investment proposal is competing with other requests for funding, you can help your cause by doing the following:

  • preparing a concise and well-documented procurement request;
  • organizing the proposal in a format the company uses for evaluating investments;
  • if you have an opportunity to present your proposal to management, being prepared and having your paperwork in order;
  • asking your immediate supervisor or head of your operating division to be available if needed to help you defend your proposal's merits; and
  • being prepared to go back to the drawing board if your proposal is rejected.

If your proposal is rejected, try to ask why, and use that information to help you improve your next attempt.

As part of your investment proposal, be prepared to make a business case for your proposed investment. Be sure to ask people with whom you previously met for suggestions on how best to make a business case. Be sure you give a lot of thought to how BC/DR will benefit the organization versus any potential downsides or risks of the investment. Consider performing an ROI analysis to identify how your proposed investment in a BC/DR plan will bring value to the organization and how quickly it will do so over time.

Presenting the case to management

Regardless of all your preparation, you must be able to prove the value of your proposed investment to management. If you revisit the steps we've listed a few more times, you may uncover some additional data that could help improve your case. Brush up on your presentation skills, especially if you find yourself making a presentation to the company board or a group of executives who evaluate investments. Bring members of your team with you for support and answering questions.

Before you can obtain that new BC/DR software or emergency notification service, preparations need to be made. Resilience is a worthy recipient for investment, but that alone is not enough to receive the needed funding. Perhaps the best suggestion is to meet with experts from various departments within your organization who can provide guidance as you progress through the various stages of the investment process.

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