What Is Business Continuity?

Business continuity is all about identifying business crises and having an action plan to cope with crises, so your business can function with as little disruption as possible. We’ll dive deeper into business continuity and the concept of continuous improvement.

The next few weeks and months are set to present a range of challenges to businesses worldwide, so let’s talk about how organisations can better protect their organisation and their employees’ long term as it navigates a particularly challenging time in human history.

Prepare Disaster and Business Continuity Plans

ISO 22301 is one of the best ways for organisations to prepare their disaster and business recovery plans and business continuity plans in the wake of an existential crisis. In addition, the plan, do, check, act model provides you with the building blocks for your risk management plan, which will help you minimise the damage of a disaster internally, in your supply chain or in your financials.

We published an hour-long webinar on the topic, with Best Practice Group CEO, Kobi Simmat talking you through each step of the standard and putting it into modern day context.

The standard was revised last year, and it sets out the framework for building a business continuity system, which is particularly relevant in times like this. With recent updates, the standard is more relevant and effective than ever, with a simple purpose: to prepare for, provide and maintain controls and capabilities for managing an organisation’s overall ability to continue to operate during disruptions.

Some of the most important aspects of the standard are to:

  • Support strategic objectives
  • Create a competitive advantage
  • Protecting and enhancing reputation and credibility
  • Contributing to organisational resilience
  • Reducing legal and financial exposure
  • Reducing direct and indirect costs of disruptions
  • Maintain customer and supply chain expectations
  • Improving your ability to remain effective and relevant during a disruption
  • Demonstrating proactive control of risks
  • Addressing organisational vulnerabilities

Accelerate Your Management Reviews

One of the ways you and your team can make this as adaptable, effective, and timely as possible is to accelerate your management reviews from a quarterly basis to at the very least, a fortnightly, weekly or ideally semi-daily series of updates. The shorter you make this time frame, your business gains from being agile in the face of adversity, and you can leverage the data to your advantage for on-the-fly decision making and adjustments within your operations. It will also assist you in creating a culture of collaboration and feedback and achieving your recovery time objectives. Despite the recent turn of events, this is still possible via video calls and sharing screens to analyse data and your continuity planning.

The standard makes clear from the outset that the leadership team needs to be proactive in their codes of practice and response, both in terms of the timeliness and impact of their decision making. This is the time, as Ben Horowitz would put it, to be the wartime CEO. This means that your regular short term goals and projects need to pivot to survival mode- the rest will come in time. This should be focussed through the lens of a risk assessment; what are the hazards that could prevent themselves in the coming hours, days and weeks? What are the challenges you’ve had to face from the previous days and weeks? How could your organisation position itself to minimise the risk of these occurring again? The standard says that it’s essential to implement and maintain a systematic process for analysing business impact on a day-by-day basis, so this should remain a top priority for your management team and your boots on the ground to get a clear picture of how macroeconomic impacts are filtering down into day-to-day business in your organisation. You want to review your business impact analysis (BIA) regularly, so you can refine the shape and scope of your business continuity and recovery strategies and possible solutions.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure”

W. Edwards Deming

It’s also important to communicate this to your staff, so they’re well aware of the changes to the organisation’s direction and purpose. If your management/ human resources team doesn’t effectively communicate this to your staff, they’ll be lacking in the drive and direction for them to do their job properly, and you’ll build up a level of trust with your members of staff with high-level communication. You don’t want to risk anyone feeling as though they’re left out in the dark.

Don’t be a focus group of one

Another key concern is to make this whole continuous improvement process, a responsibility for the organisation, and not a burden for one person to complete. As I’ve said before, it’s important to get feedback from the whole organisation, so you can more effectively shape policies that are based on first-hand knowledge of your operations and your clients and implement continuous improvement. It’s a huge responsibility, after all, during a time of crisis to maintain the promises you’ve made to your clients- so don’t underestimate this. The more brains you can get attempting to solve a problem, the more impactful the potential solution you’ll come up with; don’t be a focus group of one!

These are just a few of the basics that we’ve covered in an hour-long webinar which you can view on YouTube. I’d encourage you to send this to as many people in your organisation, as well as friends that might be facing challenges in their businesses operations, too.

Learn more about Best Practice’s ISO Certification services.

Kobi Simmat- CEO & Director of the Best Practice Group.

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