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Protecting Your Business From Interruption:
The Need For Business Continuity Management
All businesses face the threat of an unplanned business interruption. While the causes vary from natural disasters to IT service interruptions, many organizations lack the capability to respond in an effective way. As a result, thousands of businesses large and small are crippled every year by unplanned business interruptions. However, there are cost effective protections that every business can establish to avoid this risk. Many of these protections are focused on isolated risks; for example, if a company has a critical product that has to be shipped no matter what Ė they may choose to store that product in two locations, thereby protecting it. However, such an approach ignores the broader purpose of risk management: to examine these risks in a structured approach will result in a comprehensive understanding of the organizationís risks, thereby optimizing its investment to limit those risks.
The structured approach needed for business interruption risks is business continuity management Ė a process that analyzes an organizationís risk of business interruption and takes actions to reduce it. While this is often achieved through a continuity plan, simply writing a plan will not substantially affect your businessís exposure to interruption risks. A business continuity management process is the key to identifying which activities will reduce risk and eliminating the activities that are less beneficial. By taking a structured approach to managing business interruption risk, an organization maximizes its risk reduction while minimizing costs and focusing its efforts on critical areas that are worth protecting.
If itís not a plan, whatís the outcome? Organizations that embark on developing and implementing business continuity management processes often create well-rehearsed, documented business continuity plans. But they also create something more valuable: a wellaligned risk management culture that learns to proactively recognize business risk and take action, and when an issue persists, apply reactive frameworks to control the resulting impact.
The remainder of this article describes the business continuity management process and how each part of the process drives the effort towards value-added activities. Also offered is a simple, straightforward process to initiate business continuity management, and a number of key success factors.
Business continuity management is often daunting because of the number of ways it can be completed. With so many options, itís easy to get lost and tempting to just start doing things without an understanding of what you are trying to achieve. To better understand the basic building blocks of business continuity management and how each generates business value, here are the five key tasks that make up a solid business continuity management program and the strategic benefits they provide:
1. Identify critical activities and associated
2. Identify likely causes of failure and
protections against failure
3. Develop alternate modes of operation
for critical activities based on likely causes
4. Document plans to implement the
alternate modes of operation and manage
the overall process of responding to
a disaster and performing a recovery
5. Exercise the plans
Using the process above to analyze and evaluate the risk management options for an organization results in reliable and repeatable results. In addition, processes will result in the following key outcomes:
Business continuity will never be a silver bullet that protects the organization from every interruption, but it can allow an organization to make smart investments in protecting against the most likely and most severe threats.
Starting any new process in an organization is challenging, but the key is always the same: have the right people involved and moving to achieve a central set of objectives. This often takes both time and diplomatic effort, so patience will be needed. Here are three key steps to getting a business continuity management process off the ground:
1. Understand Expectations
3. Conduct A Pilot
The use of business continuity management in organizations continues to expand and evolve in parallel with the broader discipline of risk management. Like risk management, business continuity management is a flexible process that is meant to be used in a way they best fits the organization. While using this process, each step will contain its own individual business case for continuing. As a result, the cost and benefit of business continuity management will vary from organization to organization. However, nearly all organizations should deploy some form of it to meet their obligations to stakeholders.
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