Continuity Contributors Crisis management

DTO/ MDMT – A new BCM concept proposed

2 new terms to be introduced into the global BCM methodology - DTO and MDMT.

Dhiraj Lal and I invite comments on what we feel is a new concept that can help organizations to further improve their approach to put in place an effective BCM program!

While not in any BCM Standard so far, in our book on the UAE BCM Standard NCEMA 7000 (you can look it up on ), we have proposed 2 new terms to be introduced into the global BCM methodology – DTO and  MDMT.  In our consulting assignments, we have often proposed that organisations must mandate that a decision must be taken sooner than later. An early decision with incomplete information may be better than waiting long to get full and accurate information, during crises. Interestingly, some of these organizations have had success in meeting their RTO/ MAO.

In our book “STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE to the AE/SCNS/NCEMA 7000:2015 BCM STANDARD – Implement BCM the UAE way!“ (first published in late 2019), we have suggested that these 2 decision-making terms be formally introduced into global BCM methodology.  These 2 terms are  :

  • Decision Time Objective (DTO) – The target time after the incident by which time an invocation decision must be taken
  • Maximum Decision-Making Time (MDMT) – The worst-case time after the incident, by which time the invocation decision must be taken

Our rationale is that if the “yes/ no/ by when” invocation decision gets delayed, then there is a good chance that the organisation may run short of time to meet the RTO/ MAO timelines. If the MDMT gets crossed, then there is a good chance that the organization may also miss its MAO. Conversely, advance clarity as to the DTO could help enhance the ability of the organization to be able to meet its RTO. So, both the DTO and MDMT add value by being control parameters. Like RTO and MAO, DTO would always be less than MDMT, and the MDMT would typically be much less than the MAO. Similarly, DTO must be much less than RTO. 

For example, if it may take the organisation around 6 hours worst-case to move people from the primary site to the Work Area Recovery site, then perhaps the worst case decision time (MDMT) could be set at 2 hours. If the RTO is 4 hours, DTO could be around 1 hour.

Our rationale in proposing these 2 terms was validated recently by the CIO of a large and respected corporate whose very robust IT failed unexpectedly. Management did not invoke IT DR because they were assured that the problem would be  resolved in 10 minutes. But new problems kept cropping up. The restoration that should have taken 10 minutes finally  took 2 hours. As a result, the IT DR invocation decision got delayed, and the organisation bust their MAO – with the to-be-expected resultant negative financial and reputational consequences. Management was livid, and some heads rolled. “I wish we had taken the invocation decision earlier,” the CIO moaned.

“That’s exactly what we suggested, almost a year ago,” We said! “In future, please  decide in advance the time within which to take the decision.”

We invite BCM professionals worldwide to comment on our 2 new terms (“DTO” and “MDMT”), and indeed to build upon it, for the benefit of the global BCM worldwide. 

You liked what you read ? Leave a comment.


  1. Decision making time is in theory built in to RTO and considered in drafting an RTO and setting RTO in the Design stage. Adding more acronyms I feel will be one more step in people resisting doing a quality BIA. I think it is stronger to make it clear to Top Management that impacts prior to RTO are deemed acceptable. This in itself should focus their decision making. I would favour less acronyms and where possible more meaningful. MTPD/MAO confuses people already. Maximum Acceptible Disruption (MAD) would be my suggestion to supercede them. RTO (Time) and MBCO (Service) also causes confusion. Should there not be an RTO and MBCO combination? Acceptable Impact and Minimum Service (AIMS). So MAD and AIMS. Two acroynyms, meaningful and not 4 acronyms that cause confusion. Rwmember where you heard it first. 😀

  2. In my opinion decision during crisis to ensure we adhere to defined RTO are based on facts and the situation analysis reviews being conducted at that time. In such a scenario, parking right amount of time for decision making based on facts, makes sense. However, on a flip side, it shouldn’t be sounding too bureaucratic to customers that we are buying more time. The point of pre-planned decision making with plan A, else plan B, else plan C could add more value to this concept with a clear management acceptance to this approach.
    If my thought process needs revision, happy for a discussion and further proceedings.

  3. Hi Daman. My answer would be “no”. All we’re doing is adding to the jargon, when we should we consistently simplifying the process, through experience and capability-building. I can imagine the response I would get from a crisis team if I said “folks, you have to make a decision NOW (irrespective of the information you have), because we’ve reached our DTO”.

    Another way of looking at this is “at any point in time, 50% of what you think you know will turn out to be wrong”. That’s true after 10 minutes, after 60 minutes, after 120 minutes – so a DTO does nothing to make the information at hand more accurate.

    My philosophy (stolen from Chris Needham-Bennett amongst others) is “invoke fast, invoke high”. I don’t need an arbitrary time number to support that. In the real example of the London Tube bombings in July 2005, the explosions happened at 08:58, were being reported on the news shortly after 09:00, and we invoked our WAR contracts by 09:05. Would a DTO/MDMT have assisted that judgement call? I don’t think so.

    1. Thanks Chris. You have quoted good example. But, there can be bad examples also and we need to be prepared for those as well. Thats the thought process behind this suggestion. If I do better than my RTO, there is no challenge, but if I miss the bus because I was waiting for full/ more information and could not decide – then this would be a challenge. I go with the philosophy that take a decision with the amount of information available and move on – specially during Crises. Its not one person’s decision, committee is deciding – so the chances of going wrong are reduced.

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