The business continuity function has been steadily
growing in importance in both the private and public sector over the last
20 years. The corporate world has recognized the importance of the business
continuity process to the very survival of the enterprise. What began
as a technical discipline within the data center has grown to become a
key component of business risk management. Methodologies have evolved
and standardized. Practitioners have become more professional and, with
the development of the profession, have reasonably sought appropriate
recognition of their qualifications through certification. The existing
certification programs have been improved and refined since their inception
and will continue to evolve in the future. The certification organizations
continue to offer their members more opportunity for learning and advancement.
The question we must ask ourselves today is, should corporate management
underwrite professional certification for its business continuity staff?
The reasons, from the perspective of both
the corporation and the individual practitioner are valid and bear restating.
For the individual, certification is a useful business credential. Certification
acknowledges an individuals standing in the profession. It is also
a demonstrable recognition of a persons achievement. Professional
certification raises the possibility of enhanced career opportunities
as a business continuity manager in a company or in a consultancy. There
is clear evidence to show that professional qualification can lead to
By ensuring that staff members have demonstrated
their professional qualifications through a meaningful certification program,
organizations can be assured that their business continuity management
processes are being correctly focused and managed. Certified staff will
have access to the latest thinking and a network of other professionals,
both domestically and, in some cases, worldwide.
Further, many organizations will need to
call upon a consultant to assist with the development and maintenance
of the business continuity program. By choosing suitably qualified consultants,
an organization can be assured that the individuals understand the process
and have been assessed as to their level of competence and understanding
of business continuity management. In addition, certified practitioners
are required to operate to the Code of Practice and Ethics for Business
Continuity Practitioners as defined by the certifying organization.
More and more employers worldwide, are looking
at certification as a condition of employment and certification is now
often seen as a qualifying condition for the hiring of consultants. Many
employers that do not require certification in advance of hiring are launching
concentrated efforts to see that their business continuity staff becomes
certified. For example, a major money center bank has just declared its
intention to seek certification for its entire business continuity staff.
The most important benefit flowing from
the adoption of a recognized business continuity process using
professional, qualified people is that the organization can be
more certain of its ability to effectively manage major disruptive incidents.
This helps maintain the continuity of the organization and instills confidence
in all stakeholders.
While professional certification acknowledges
the business continuity practitioner as a professional, the practice and
process of certification define the profession itself. It creates a set
of quality standards, promotes the use of approved methodologies, and
fosters professional development through ongoing mentoring programs, continuing
education and on-the-job experience.
Today, there are primarily two recognized
professional institutions certifying the business continuity professional.
The recent acquisition of Harris Recovery Services by Iron Mountain and
the attendant uncertainty about the fate of the Harris Recovery Institute
certification program, leaves its 300 plus members in limbo, at least
temporarily. (the author has been informed that negotiations are taking
place to continue the program). There are other organizations which certify
the professional emergency and risk manager, but for the purpose of this
article we will focus only on the business continuity professional. The
organizations are the Business Continuity Institute (BCI, www.theBCI.org),
headquartered in the United Kingdom, and the DRI International
(DRII, www.DR.org), headquartered
in Falls Church, Virginia, USA. Both are member-owned, not-for-profit
organizations. Both offer certification at different grade levels. Both
agree on a ten specific disciplines known as the Common Body of
Knowledge as the basis for certification. Both have an international
presence: the BCI has approximately 1,100 members in 31 countries, while
the DRII has approximately 2,500 in 15 countries.
While there are many similarities between
the two organizations, there are significant differences in their certification
philosophy and methodology:
- The BCI bases its certification on the knowledge gained
through profession experience. Applicants are required to complete a
scored-assessment matrix, listing their applicable experience in each
of the ten disciplines. This information is validated by the applicants
references (two required).
- DRII also requires written references. The DRII bases
it certification on the the applicants score on a multiple-choice
test. Both require a specified length of time working in the profession
to qualify for the various grades.
Both the BCI Fellow
grade and the DRII Master grade are reserved for senior practitioners.
The BCI requires that candidates for the Fellow (FBCI) grade demonstrate
that they have made a significant contribution to the advancement of the
profession above and beyond the normal performance of their job. An FBCI
has not only proved their competence on the job but has shared their experience
and knowledge with others through extensive writing, teaching, and/or
public speaking, or has, in some other way taken an active role in developing
the profession. DRII requires that candidates for its Master grade take
a narrative case study exam or submit a directed research paper.
BCI requires no recertification as long
as the certified professional continues to work in business continuity.
DRII requires a re-certification every two years, based on the accumulation
of DRII-approved continuing education credits. The DRII recently declared
a re-certification amnesty, granting automatic re-certification for all
members needing re-certification by December 2000.
BCI has five applicable membership grades:
- Affiliate of the Business Continuity Institute
- ABCI Associate of the Business Continuity Institute
- MBCI Member of the Business Continuity Institute
- FBCI Fellow of the Business Continuity Institute
has three membership grades:
- ABCP Associate Business Continuity Planner
- CBCP Certified Business Continuity Planner
- MBCP Master Business Continuity Planner
The certification requirements for
each grade are presented below.. The presentation reflects the authors
opinion of the relative comparative ranking of the various grades.
Although the certification process will
continue to evolve, it is now, more than ever before, considered an important
professional credential. The two primary certification bodies, the BCI
and DRII, despite their differences, advocate the use of a common body
of knowledge for business continuity certification. They promote industry
standards, individual competence and professional development. For the
enterprise using certified personnel both as staff and consultancy, this
ensures that the business continuity process will be executed by competent
professionals according to established industry practices.
Comparison of Business Continuity Certification Programs
(Ranked by the author in ascending order of standing)
Students having an interest in the subject area taking a qualifying course
An individual expressing an interest in business continuity management
or who is a Member of an associated Institute where both governing bodies
have agreed that joint membership can be offered.
Less than 2 years working in profession or work in a position related
to business continuity / disaster recovery planning. Minimum knowledge
in business continuity / disaster recovery planning. Score of 75% on multiple-
Currently in a business continuity related profession. Developing an understanding
of ALL certification standards. Having full or part time experience within
the scope of the certification standards.
2 Years working in the profession. Score of 75% on multiple-choice test.
Significant practical experience in 3 of the 10 disciplines.
3 Years working in the profession. Demonstrated proficiency in all 10
5 Years working in the profession. Score of 85% on the multiple-choice
test. Significant practical experience in 5 of the 10 disciplines. Successful
completion of case study or research project.
2 Years as a MBCI (minimum 5 years in the profession). Demonstrated thorough
proficiency in all 10 disciplines. Pass a structured 1 hour interview
conducted by 3 FBCIs. Made a significant contribution to the profession.
FBCI, is a Director, Business Continuity
and Strategic Planning Solutions for Fortune Communications, Inc., a leading
independent consultancy. A Fellow of the Business Continuity Institute
and a member of its Board of Directors, he is an internationally accredited,
hands-on business continuity professional with proven record of accomplishments,
including managing successful recoveries from major business disruptions.
He has been a senior executive with responsibilities for the development
and operation of several highly successful corporate business continuity
Copyright (c)2003, Lawrence Kalmis, FBCI. All Rights