Business continuity questionnaires

Business continuity questionnaires are not a mandatory data collection instrument during the BCP process. Although questionnaires can be useful when collecting discrete, quantifiable information, they should not be relied upon as the sole data collection method.

Experience shows that when questionnaires are utilized, the information returned only provides 30 percent of the data necessary to reach conclusions regarding recovery objectives, as well as the information necessary to write the plans themselves.

If the organization elects to use a questionnaire for data-gathering purposes, the following is recommended:

Clarify expectations up-front : State clearly that this is one method of data collection, and a follow-up meeting will be scheduled to discuss and expand upon responses; provide an estimate of how long the questionnaire will take to answer.

Allow sufficient time to administer the questionnaire: The use of questionnaires can extend the length of a business continuity project given the need to allow sufficient time for the respondents to answer and return the completed document (for example, be sure a one- to two-week turnaround meets the projectsteering committee’s expectations).

Beta test the questionnaire: Once the initial version of the questionnaire is written, provide it to a select number of respondents to ensure the instrument is easily understood and the responses match the intent of the questions also check to see if the time estimate is realistic, as well. For more complexquestionnaires, offer a question-and-answer session, as well as a “dry run” opportunity.
Keep it short and simple: People dislike answering questionnaires, particularly long ones. Limit the questionnaire to 20 questions when possible, aiming for a 30- to 60-minute response time.
Limit the questions to discrete information: Save opinion or qualitative questions for interviews and group-facilitated sessions. Ask “yes and no” questions, or questions with answers supported by discrete data.
Follow up with one-on-one or group facilitated interviews/meetings: Again, questionnaires can only return a partial answer. Questionnaire results should be discussed to ensure the respondent truly understood the question, and additional opinion/qualitative questions should be discussed. One of the most important questions that should be discussed in a follow-up meeting is, “What should the recovery time objective be for your business function?”

Business continuity questionnaires and BCP process

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