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BCI aims to build local BCM skills

The establishment of a new BCI chapter for the SADC region is expected to provide a platform for practitioners to build business continuity management skills, says BCI Board member Louise Theunissen.

As local enterprises start seeing the value of focusing on a far-reaching business continuity strategy, it’s become apparent that there is a shortage of BCM skills in SA. Practitioners in SA hope to change this, with the establishment of a local chapter of the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) in the SADC region.

The chapter has been approved and is now being formally introduced to the market.

Traditionally, business continuity has been treated as an afterthought in SA, say practitioners, with the task of managing the business continuity strategy often assigned to a staff member with insufficient experience, accreditation or seniority to affect a meaningful strategy.

Those practitioners with experience and accreditation tend to operate in isolation.

Theunissen, GM, client services at Continuity SA and long a BCI member, says creating a BCI chapter in southern Africa will change this, by allowing for business continuity skills development and enabling practitioners to network and tap into a regional and international knowledge base.

The chapter aims to increase the promotion of BCI accreditation and BCM training availability to its members. It will also be able to formally represent business continuity professionals in the whole SADC region when engaging with other professional bodies and institutes.

“The BCI is a highly-regarded non-profit organisation established in 1994 to enable individual members to obtain guidance and support from fellow business continuity practitioners. To date, the BCI has 6 500 members in some 100 countries active in an estimated 2 500 organisations in private, public and third sectors.

“The important thing about gaining BCI accreditation for members is that they not only grow their companies’ skills base and improve their business continuity strategies, but members interact with other members and so improve their own knowledge. People develop their skills and their own personal brand,” Theunissen says.

She says BCI has numerous individual members across Africa. “In 2005, the year in which the first South African BCI Forum was launched, there was just a handful of members spread across Africa. The launch was not only the first in southern Africa, but also in Africa. As at the end of January this year, Africa had approximately 488 BCI members, of which 133 are BCI statutory members.”

Theunissen notes that, constitutionally, a BCI Forum is a voluntary interest group with no regulatory mandate or financial responsibility, which follows certain terms of reference to align with the BCI.

“However, since early last year, after the election of the BCI Committee South Africa, we have seen a resurgence of interest and focus on promoting business continuity.”

Theunissen has been closely involved with efforts to launch a local BCI chapter for some time. “Starting a BCI chapter is not a simple matter,” she says. “For example, you need at least 100 statutory members to create a chapter. South Africa does not have 100.”

The chapter was then expanded to include the entire SADC region, which delivered just under 100 statutory members. The committee then had to draft a business plan before getting approval to launch.

While membership is increasing slowly, Theunissen says awareness is growing, and local BCI representatives are seeing increasing interest from across the region in joining the BCI. “We are receiving enquiries from across the SADC region, and even from further afield in Africa, where practitioners are looking to launch their own forums. Once our entity is fully established, we will be in a position to support them and give them more opportunities to interact,” she says.

Theunissen will outline the work and goals of the BCI at the upcoming ITWeb Business Continuity 2012 conference, at The Forum, in Bryanston, on 13 November. She will also deliver the results of a survey on the state of business continuity management in the region.

For more information about this event, click here.


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