What would you do if disaster struck at work? The source or cause could be many, unknown or unpredictable. The three main areas are:

Natural threats include events like hurricanes, tornadoes, heavy storms, flooding, fires, earthquakes, heavy winds, tornadoes, aircraft incidents or any type of extreme weather like freezing or heavy snow.

Human threats include explosions from gas, steam, etc., losing part of your team (say execs lost in a common plane crash), extortion, burglary, embezzlement, bus or train strike, vandalism, riot, robbery, labour unrest, data entry errors, theft of data, building break-in, terrorist activity, a nuclear accident or a pandemic.

Technical threats are things like power fluctuations or outages, HVAC failures, malfunction or failure of servers or hardware, data loss, telephone outage, loss of Internet access and electromagnetic interference.

Business continuance (sometimes referred to as business continuity) describes the processes and procedures an organisation puts in place to ensure that essential functions can continue during and after a disaster. Business continuance planning seeks to prevent interruption of mission-critical services, and to reestablish full functioning as swiftly and smoothly as possible.

The significance of today’s date is not lost on the author. I bet you know where you were and remember what you were doing on 9/11/01?

The impact of this disaster reverberated around the world.

Business continuity management (BCM) as a discipline is regarded by most of its advocates as a cost centre. You invest in it to prevent losses in unlikely and unfortunate circumstances, which, should they occur, could severely damage an organisation and even result in its closure. The cost of BCM is normally regarded as an insurance premium: the lower, the better; and if nothing happens, the investment is written-off. While ensuring that the BCMS works as intended, the main job of the business continuity manager is to keep the cost of this function as low as possible. This is well known and normal practice across the globe; and business continuity managers are well versed in discussing the minimum investment necessary to comply with company standards with regards to contingency planning, the management of operational risks and maintaining a crisis management organisation.

Getting it right
One of the most potentially destabilising consequences of disruption is uncertainty. And this can affect an organisation even before disaster strikes. How resilient are you? How vulnerable are your critical activities and how long will it take to recover them?

disaster-recovery-plan

Answering these questions is vital if you’re going to stay in business when times are tough and fulfil the promises you have made to customers and stakeholders. So do you have a business continuity plan? How often are crisis management plans rehearsed? Have all aspects of BCM been addressed, from people and premises to suppliers, technology and information? Are all your employees aware of their roles and responsibilities in business continuity?

Addressing these issues is an essential part of business continuity. An independent review of your processes and controls can provide additional comfort – from offering a better understanding of time critical-business priorities to benchmarking capabilities against other sectors’ best practice.

With more detailed scenario testing and more focused disaster planning you will be able to optimise your organisation’s BCM programme. And that’s the comfort your senior stakeholders need – and your clients and customers depend on.

Where are you now?

Your business strategy may be clear and robust. Hopefully you are now thinking about how you will plan for unexpected events or be reassured that you are already there or moving towards this state? The collapse of a key supplier, employees off sick in a pandemic, the failure of a critical system shutting down services to clients or customers. All can have an impact on you. Is your organisation resilient enough to withstand the disruption?

If you cannot recover in time then you’re in trouble. Which is why Business Continuity Management (BCM) is about more than keeping you up and running. It’s a vital part of safe-guarding your brand and maintaining the reputation of your business.