What’s the secret of maintaining business continuity?

Recently, I saw an interesting question someone posed on LinkedIn: 

In one word, what’s the secret of maintaining business continuity?

Despite the issue of maintaining business continuity being a very broad topic, group members managed to define what they thought was the prerequisite for success in just one word. Words that came across were:  passion (for the programme), culture, communication, momentum, consistency, exercise, repetition, ownership, continuity, awareness, preparedness.

One of the most unusual (and quirky) answers given was ‘paranoia’.

Do we have to be paranoid in order to maintain business continuity? Is fear the main driver for developing a BC plan or programme? Or is business continuity driven by far more logical, strategic and operational reasons with the aim of protecting a business from unforeseen events and achieving organisational goals?

And then there is carelessness. It is human nature to think ‘this won’t happen to me’. Unfortunately, this is what many CEOs, directors and senior managers think as well. This probably explains why many companies have poor or no business continuity plans, let alone business continuity management systems.

For commercial organisations service disruptions, delays in responding to customer requests, inability  to process transactions in a timely manner or being unable to resume business in the face of a disaster can all have significant impacts on the effective operation and the profitability of the business.

My answer to the above question would be that the secret of maintaining business continuity is to implement an effective business continuity management system (BCMS).

A BCMS enables organisations to update, control and deploy business continuity plans and align them with their strategic and operational objectives. Business continuity plans are useless if they never get updated and tested. A BCMS allows you to do this because it becomes part of the overall management system.

The author of Business Continuity Management: Choosing to survive explains that some of the factors that play a major role in maintaining a successful BCM programme are succession planning, creation of knowledge databases, job rotation, and distribution of critical processes over a larger number of people and training.

With the release of the ISO22301 International Business Continuity standard in May this year, it seems that the importance of business continuity management systems has been brought back to life again.

I think it’s only a matter of time before companies start realising the tangible benefits of a BCMS, which Tony Drewitt, a BC expert and author of the book Everything you need to know about Business continuity describes as cost-effectiveness, competitiveness and resilience of the supply chain, improved corporate governance and defined director’s liabilities. Mitigating disasters and failures, enhanced operational performance of the organisation and more satisfied stakeholders are also positive outcomes of BCMS implementation.

As I am preparing for the participation of my company at the BCM World Conference and Exhibition in London on 7th – 8th November, I hope that more companies will realise that implementing an integrated BCMS (and one linked to their other management systems) not only protects them from unforeseen events but also gives them the competitive edge all businesses relish.