What is BCP ?
Sometimes bad things happen and that is why we buy insurance. Businesses cannot wait
around for the insurance company to send them a cheque. If they want to stay in business they must
keep their doors open no matter how bad it gets.
Business managers are often a reluctant to talk about business continuity. There is an ancient superstition
that tells us if we talk about bad things they will happen. A good BCP professional knows that the
specter of a business failure is often more powerful than visions of disaster. For many business
managers "you will survive but your business will die" is more frightening than "you will die".
BCP promises that with proper planning and a good understanding of what actually
happens during a disaster a business can survive the chaos and thrive in the recovery period.
Certification brings a consistent view and a common body of knowledge to the understanding of
business continuity. Good business managers have been doing BCP for thousands of years without certification
and a business manager who understands BCP can assess and hire staff to do BCP without reference to a certificate.
In the real world most business managers have neither the time nor the experience so asking for a BCP certificate
and a quick way to find someone who has the knowledge and aptitude.
There are two widely recognized professional institutions that offer BCP certification:
BCI the Business Continuity Institute headquartered in the UK certifies based
on job experience and two written references that confirm your experience. BCI has five membership grades with
graduated certification requirements: student, affiliate, associate, member and fellow. Associate (ABCI) is really the
first certified level, followed by Member (MBCI) with more senior experience, and the Fellow (FBCI) level requires
you prove you have made a significant contribution to the profession. Membership fees range from $70 for a student to
$325 for a Fellow. In 2003 BCI had over a thousand members in thirty countries.
DRII the Disaster Recovery Institute International is USA based and certifies
using a multiple choice CBCP test. DRPII also requires job experience in BCP and written references.
Certificate holders are required to obtain credits through courses, seminars and professional activities and use
these to recertify every two years. DRII has three membership grades with graduated certification requirements:
Associate (ABCP) with less than two years experience, Certified (CBCP) with at least two years experience,
and Master (MBCP) who are required to pass a Master Case Study Exam. Annual fees are (US Funds) $50 for an ABCP,
$75 for a CBCP and $100 for an MBCP. Of course it costs money to become certified so expect
to pay $600 for the application fees and exam fees. DRPII has over 2500 members in fifteen countries.
Internet Resources for BCP Study
Compared to the resources available for other certification exams like the
CISSP there are very few resources, study groups or exam-cram
text books for someone who wants to self-study. The main study route is to take the courses (costing $thousands).
If you want to make the best use of your time take a complete course package that includes the CBCP exam
at the end.
Any study should start with the BCI and DRII home pages and read through the requirements carefully. From the BCI site I
cached a 40 page overview of the ten domains of study as a local pdf.
Under the BCI "Professional Resources" tab there are a number of for-fee and for-free guides to help professionals
though the BCP process. On the DRII site look under the "Professional Practices" tab and the DRII's ten
subject areas (the Introduction is cached here)
and the "Business Continuity Sample Job Descriptions" (cached here).
There are lots of companies providing BCP services and many have free articles, whitepapers and links. Without making an
recommendations you can start looking here for articles and
here for links. There are also non-profit groups who offer forums for
BCP professionals like here .
Yahoo Groups are a good way to find others who are working or studying BCP. If you start
Yahoo and put "BCP", "Business Continuity" or "DRP" in the search window you will
find a dozen groups.
Government Resources for BCP
There are government agencies concerned with emergency planning that have BCP resources.
In the USA FEMA has a lot of information on real disasters - put "business continuity" or
"business recovery" into the site search engine to get specific BCP information. Each of the USA states also have BCP
resources, for example Texas has a 170 page BCP guide
(I have it cached here). Canada has a "Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness Canada" PSEPC - put "business continuity" in the search window
to get at BCP specific resources.
BCP Books and Journals
Absolutely the best resource has to be The Disaster Recovery Journal DRJ.
They offer a free e-magazine if you register with them and there are resources on their site even if you do not
register. Make sure you check out the links under the "New 2 DR", "Links" and "DR Groups" tabs.
There are a huge number of books on every aspect of BCP but few that you would use so often the pages would get dog-eared.
My recommendation is use online sites to develop an understanding of the field, collect all your unresolved questions,
then go to a bookstore and buy the first book that answers your questions in ten minutes. This means such a book has
good coverage (answered your questions) and good indexing (you found your answers quickly). Personally I have found no
such book in the BCP field despite spending a lot of money on BCP books.