The Business Continuity Institute's Good Practice Guidelines defines Business Continuity Management as
"a holistic management process that identifies potential impacts that threaten an organisation and provides a framework for building resilience and the capability for an effective response which safeguards the interests of its key stakeholders, reputation, brand and value creating activities."
The purpose of a BCM programme is to reduce the impact of disruptions on an organisation by shortening their duration and reducing the damage they would otherwise cause.
In practice this means you need to develop and maintain, a rehearsed response to a wide range of disruption situations that could occur.
Your organisation will have obligations to deliver products or services to customers (whether in the public, private or voluntary sector). Disruptions occur because the resources required to satisfy these obligations are not available for some reason. Your customers will usually tolerate some interruption or delay to the service they receive from you but at some point in time they will lose patience - and you will lose their custom and your reputation.
The resources to deliver services typically include:
- Information Technology
By putting in place alternative means of delivering products or services which can be effective, not necessarily instantly, but certainly before the customers lose patience the organisation can retain, or even enhance, its reputation and customer base. This may be achieved by strategies such as sub-contracting, using other premises or alternate ways of working.
To ensure and effective response to a disruption requires careful programme management and a systematic approach namely:
- Analysis of the Requirements - a Business Impact Analysis
- Design of solutions - selecting appropriate recovery strategies
- Implementation of the response - forming teams and writing plans
- Validation - ensuring the effectiveness of the response through exercises and audit
In addition business continuity needs to embedded into the organisations procedures and personnel made aware of their responsibilities and trained to undertake their role.
The BCM approach is summarised in this lifecycle diagram from the BCI's Good Practice Guidelines
If you want to explode a few myths about your ability to survive a major incident then look at the Bad News.
If you want some examples of how Continuity Systems has assisted a variety of organisations to take effective and appropriate measures to protect their operations then look at the Good News.
It is usually the spectacular disasters that appear in the news but fire, flood and bombs are not the only business hazards...
Each day your organisation is exposed to countless risks which don't hit the headlines but are just as threatening to your business.... an overflowing cistern that soaks vital documents, a spilt cup of coffee that brings the computer down, careless workmen who set fire to neighbouring buildings...
They could all kill your business - but they don't have to....
Common Myths about Disasters and Continuity Planning
It will never happen to me...
Statistics suggest that you can expect to have a serious business interruption once in every five years and more minor ones more frequently. They could result from many causes - major fire, a prolonged computer breakdown, a power failure, transport disruption.... so it is impossible to prevent all of them. The list is endless and many factors are outside your control.
Its all insured so I'm OK...
You are likely to recover 30% - 50% of the total cost of an insured interruption and you have to keep the business going while your losses are assessed. Some business reopen after a long disruption only to close months afterwards having lost their market to competitors
I'm sure we would cope...
While you are trying to muddle through, customers will go elsewhere if their orders can't be satisfied, suppliers will downgrade your credit rating, cash flow will suffer as you cannot recover your debts and your staff may be traumatised and unable to work effectively.
You can't plan for the unforeseen...
You can't prevent the unforeseen but you can foresee the effects of the unforeseen incident and plan to minimise them.
I could do all this planning myself...
Contingency planning is always at the bottom of the in-tray until something serious happens, when it is too late. An experienced consultant will give it full attention, give impartial and researched advice and assist you to get maximum benefit from the project.
If I don't have a disaster I've wasted my money...
Continuity Planning may well pay for itself in reduced insurance premiums and improved business practices that reduce the risk of a major interruption. If you need to acquire facilities then independent advice ensures that you secure appropriate and cost-effective protection. You could use your reliability as a marketing feature to increase profits. Above all you gain peace of mind for you and your staff.
Facts about Disasters and Continuity Planning
Case study: A Ripon solicitor not only lost his office but all his computer files and backups when the baker's shop beneath caught fire. All the information needed to prepare new invoices and chase outstanding bills was lost.
Case study: Police prevented access to the buildings worst hit by the Manchester bomb for 12 days while structural checks were completed.
35% of firms suffering a computer disaster lost over £250,000 (Survey by Price Waterhouse/BIS)
Case study: Burglars stealing computer equipment removed discs containing several years research on 1,500 customers of an arthritis and asthma treatment derived from bee hives. The research was about to be released at an international symposium. There was no other copy of the data.
30% of disasters are caused by fraud, malice and misuse, 30% by software and hardware failures and (only) 20% by fire, flood and earthquake (Survey of Survive! membership)
Case study: A manufacturing company was plunged into chaos when workmen installing a lightning conductor severed the main power cable to the computer room.Effective Continuity Planning can prevent Business Collapse after a disaster
Case study: Tryton Foods bounced back after a major fire. A computer recovery plan ensured continuity of payroll and accounting functions whilst plans had already been drawn up to provide a more efficient plant on an alternative site near by. Retaining market share and the skills of the work force were key recovery priorities.
It could cost so little to save so much.....
Read about organisations that have benefited from the assistance of Continuity Systems.