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Understanding Business Continuity Management

Disasters always come without warning, meaning lack of preparedness can have devastating results to businesses. The only way that a business can ensure preparedness for disasters is through a business continuity management programme. Barclay Simpsons describes business Continuity Management (BCM) as a holistic management process that helps an organisation identify potential threats and the possible impact that those treats might cause if realised. BCM provides a framework for building organisational resilience by coming up with an effective response that safeguards the company’s brand, reputation and the interests of all the stakeholders.

The primary purpose of BCM is to provide an organisation with the ability to effectively survive both internal and external threats such as data breaches and natural disasters. A company with a robust business continuity programme lowers the impact of disruptive incidence through a proactive approach and having a predetermined recovery plan.

Coming-Up with a Proper BCM Programme

Both small businesses and big corporations need BCM to maintain a competitive advantage and customer confidence. There is no blueprint for a proper BCM programme, but an organisation can use the following tips to ensure that they have a proper BCM in place.

Make sure you Have a Business Continuity Plan

Businesses should take time to plan their business continuity strategies as it will help them identify gaps, risks and critical processes. Understanding these factors will assist in coming up with an effective response and recovery plans that are tailor-made for the organisation.

Let Everyone Know Their Role

Staff can be better prepared for major incidents if they are aware of what to do, how to do it, and the right time to do it. Proper coordination during disasters will minimise the negative impacts on time, therefore, increasing the likelihood of your organisation recovering with minimal losses.

Have the Recovery Staff Fully Accountable

You should ensure that those responsible for business continuity performance are senior staff with the required knowledge and experience in critical processes and systems.

Such individuals are an essential resource during a major incident as they are responsible for the other staff’s actions. These staff should get the appropriate business recovery and continuity training, and their recovery accountabilities should be part of their personal scorecard.

Identify the Risks

Identify the threats and risks that are most likely to impact your business. Evaluate every risk and threat individually and consider its possible preventative and control measures since every threat will have a personal impact on your business. Some of the disasters may not have reasonable control and preventative measures, but you can come up with proposals to reduce the impact of the risks. Also, ensure that you have documented all the risks in a risk register to allow easier risk management and control.

Plan Recovery Strategies for the Four Key Disruptions

It is not possible to have a recovery strategy for every risk, but you can come up with plans on how to recover from the disruptions caused by the four key disruptions. The four disruptions are; Lack of access to your building (e.g. due to damage or safety reasons), Staff absence (e.g. due to strikes or extreme weather conditions), Denial of technology, Supply chain disruptions (loss of a key supplier).

Test Your Business Continuity Plans

Testing your business continuity plans is the only way to confirm if they work. There is always a high possibility that some of the performance issues are left out, and the only way to identify such gaps is through testing. You will have enough time to address these issues, unlike when you identify them in the middle of a calamity.

How to Set-Up a Business Continuity Concept

You should not wait until a disaster strikes to formulate a response plan as it is a proactive measure to promote preparedness. Make sure that the plan is tailor-made for your business for maximum effectiveness. Below are some steps to set-up a business continuity plan.

Have a Team for the Job

Start by forming a business continuity team that will have the responsibility of implementing and executing your organisation’s continuity plan. How you create, your team depends on the size of your organisation and how you plan to integrate the program to the internal systems. The team should at least have a manager, an assistant manager and an administrative assistant drawn from each department in the organisation.

Conduct a Business Impact Analysis

The next step after assembling the team is to understand your business’s financial, physical and operational risks in case of a disruption. You can use a business impact analysis to identify the risks and threats to your business operations, reputation, financial performance and supply chains.

Apply Gap Analysis to Identify the Resources needed

Gap analysis is needed whenever there are discrepancies between the resources required in case of a disturbance and the actual resources available. Gap analysis helps in identifying the organisation’s recovery requirements versus the resources available. The analysis also reveals the documented strategies and agreed-upon recovery options.

Explore and Implement Recovery Strategies

Identifying your risks is essential, but it will only be of help if you know how to react and recover after unanticipated events. This step is about identifying the recovery strategies and finding ways to implement them. The discussion should assist the team in coming up with a recovery plan for each risk.

Test the Results and Give Recommendations

Since organisational risks and requirements change from time to time, it is wise to test the plan to determine whether it is effective and give recommendations on areas that need some improvements.

The Main Points of a Business Continuity Management Concept

Human Resources

Managing human resources is one of the vital components of BCM since humans are the most important, but most unpredictable elements of a business continuity plan. You can have a perfect business continuity team, but you cannot predict how they will behave when disaster struck. For example, your company can have an ideal disaster response plan with a well-trained crisis management team, but they may be overwhelmed by the happenings and concentrate on their families and friends rather than fulfilling their responsibilities.

Information Technology

The protection of business IT systems and vital business data is critical to avoid loss in case of a disaster. There are no set standards on how to value systems and data in an organisation, meaning organisation may not be in a position to make the right decision when choosing the best back-up solution that reflects the current value.

IT has evolved significantly over the past few decades, but organisations still face challenges of cyber security. It goes without question that businesses should invest in a data storage solution, but there is also a need to have a solution for cyber security threats to avoid losing the data.

Supply Chain

Business continuity cannot succeed unless you incorporate supply chain as an essential part of the company’s business continuity planning. Continuity of the supply chain is more complex today than before due to the increased complexity of supply chain function caused by global sourcing, just-in-time inventories, leaner supply chains, an increased number of new products and many more.

Supply chain involves a unique factor in business continuity as it consists of working with several third parties to plan and execute in times of need. Global sourcing is more prone to disruptions, meaning it increases the continuity risk of a company, especially when a company relies on imported raw materials.

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By Georg Tichy

Georg Tichy is a management consultant in Europe, focusing on top-management consultancy, projectmanagement, corporate reporting and fundingsupport. Dr. Georg Tichy is also trainer, lecturer at university and advisor on current economic issues.

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