Company A made a big decision by investing in business continuity management. They developed a business continuity framework, conducted a business impact analysis and documented and tested their strategy. When a disaster incident struck, they were able to recover quickly.
Company B decided not to invest in business continuity since their executives felt sure that they could address any challenges that arose and chose to invest their profits elsewhere. When disaster struck, they could not recover in a timely manner, customers lost access to services and went out of business.
Which company do you belong to?
Expect the unexpected
Forty to 60 per cent of businesses never reopen following a major disruption, according to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency. This is the reality globally, as business continuity management (BCM) skyrocketed due to the covid19 pandemic. Governments are working to strike a balance between protecting their population from the virus and shielding their economies from negative financial impacts.
BCM involves identifying threats to a business's assets and functions, assessing all risks, prioritisation of each risk based on their impact and developing robust risk management strategies to ensure continuity. Focusing only on the recovery of IT systems is replaced with a laser view of an organisation’s operations, enabling effective management of the unexpected.
No one could have predicted a global pandemic, lockdowns, civil unrest, hospitalisation of thousands and an active hurricane season occurring at the same time. For many, the common theme to navigate these unchartered waters has been resilience.
Six strategies to build resilience
Risk assessments: This assists businesses to determine the risks as well as the likelihood and impact of their occurrence, where they are currently vulnerable and implement strategies to eliminate, mitigate, accept or transfer the identified risks.
Business impact analysis: When developing business recovery strategies, this is vital to determining critical systems, time-sensitive business functions, key resource dependencies (internal and external) as well as minimum recovery requirements to support the company’s operations. Documenting this also supports the business continuity planning process.
Business continuity plan (BCP): Your BCP is your risk management blueprint for continuity in the event of a disruption. Use an all-hazards approach to business continuity management; it focuses on how a business can be affected by a disruption, and not what can affect it. This ensures that a business has a flexible and organised response for handling a range of disruptive events such as human resources, technology systems and physical assets, even when they occur simultaneously.
Testing the Plan: Testing your recovery strategies, at least annually, ensures that your plan works as intended. It not only builds confidence but identifies gaps that can be addressed before a disruptive event.
Training: The most effective plan can be undermined if the persons required to execute the plan are unaware of what is required of them. This can take the form of drills, exercises or training workshops.
Due diligence – service providers: Dependence on third-parties for key services can weaken the resilience of any continuity strategy, therefore businesses must ensure that service providers have robust BCPs. Failure to meet their obligations following a disruption can result in failure to meet your own. If your company provides a product or service to large clients, they may request your BCP plans to ensure that any business disruption can be quickly addressed.
Given the present-day risks to business, business continuity management increases the likelihood that that your business will be prepared to respond and recover from disruptions in 2020 and beyond.
This article was contributed by platinum event sponsor 2020, The Unit Trust Corporation (Esther Callender-George, manager, information security and business continuity and Jean Michael Edwards, business continuity officer). Courtesy the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce.