Extended-form Case Study

Business continuity planning across a matrix

Published on February 29, 2016   11 min

A selection of talks on Strategy

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Hi. My name's Scott Baldwin. And I'm the head of business continuity at eBay. Today, I'm going to talk about BC planning across a matrix.
So first, let me tell you a little bit about eBay. eBay started in 1995 as an online auction site. Today, it's grown to be the largest marketplace in the world. We have a large global footprint with offices in over 40 countries. We have over 35,000 full-time employees and tens of thousands of part-time and contract employees, as well. Most importantly to me, eBay supports millions of people who depend on us in some way for their livelihood.
So now let's talk about business continuity. Business continuity is simply the discipline of preparing for and recovering from a business-disrupting event. Now, this can be anything from a technical outage to a natural disaster to a terrorist attack. Anything that disrupts the normal flow of business operations can be considered a business continuity event.
So one of the primary deliverables that a business continuity program provides is called a business continuity plan. And a business continuity plan is simply a set of instructions that is designed to help a specific department recover from a disruption by pointing out specific tasks and recovery steps.
Like many medium and large-size companies, eBay has adopted a centralized business continuity model. This means that a relatively small group of business continuity professionals in the corporate level are responsible for ensuring that each department in the whole company has a resiliency plan and is prepared for a disruption. Because there are thousands of departments and only a few of us, it's actually physically impossible for the corporate group to create, maintain, manage, and test all of these plans. Therefore, we have requested and required that each department identify and provide someone from their own group to maintain and test their plans. Also because in the business continuity corporate group, we're obviously not experts in every area of the business, it really doesn't make sense for us to be the ones to create recovery plans for the business. It's important to realize that these department-level planners are not business continuity experts. They have a regular day job that have been doing for years, sometimes that they've chosen to do. So business continuity planning is a responsibility that's given to them on top of their regular work.

Business continuity planning across a matrix

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