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The Importance of a Business Continuity Plan

|Jul 25|magazine15 min read

 

With the global economic recovery stagnant and businesses experiencing budget challenges, BSI revealed their top five tips for organizations to ensure they are prepared for any type of disruption including social, political and economic threats.

The tips, which coincide with the release of a new standard for business continuity management (BCM), ISO 22301 - an evolution from the internationally recognized British Standard BS 25999 - outline an approach to implement precautionary measures against issues such as strikes, mass supply chain disruption, political unrest and customer loss.

Preparing a business continuity and survival strategy heads the list of tips from BSI’s internationally renowned panel of experts to beat the threats. Managing organizational balance sheets and conducting full risk assessments are also recommended with a view to ensuring businesses don’t just look at internal processes, but also the management of its key suppliers.

BSI has also urged businesses to follow international best practices and adopt a systematic approach to testing and exercising BCM plans with senior management buy in. “Not enough of today’s organizations exercise their business continuity. It doesn’t matter what size business you operate, if you don’t exercise your plans, you put your business and its employees at risk,” says Gary Robinson, Commercial Director, BSI Canada.  “Our clients who have adopted a holistic approach to BCM reported an 82 per cent improvement in their speed of recovery from incidents and disruptions."[1]

Environmental incidents over the last 12 months, including severe weather and natural disasters across the globe, have led to greater awareness and a shift in attitudes towards business continuity management. Now with the global economy continuing to be turbulent, BSI is urging organizations to bring the issue of business continuity management higher up the boardroom agenda and prepare for the potential fall outs from political instability, social unrest and economic meltdown.

BSI recently sponsored the renowned Chartered Management Institute’s (CMI) report, “Planning for the worst”[2] which shows clear advantages for organizations that have business continuity plans in place to deal with incidents and crises when they hit. Of those who had to activate plans in 2011, 82 per cent said BCM enabled their organization to return to normal operations more quickly, while 81 per cent agreed it reduced disruption.

The report also identifies corporate governance as the biggest external driver for BCM. As well as providing assurance that an organization will be able to continue its daily operations, implementation of such standards will also help businesses to address the more strategic aspects of BCM such as the potential threats to their supply chains.

Rick Cudworth, Chair of the BSI Technical Committee for Business Continuity in the United Kingdom, said: “This new business continuity standard is a significant step forward. It will simplify the task of planning for the unexpected and empower organizations to react in a timely fashion when difficulties arise. With the standard being accepted internationally, it will allow for a collaborative approach, across the globe. The success and sustainability of a business is highly dependent on the prevention plans that are embedded within the organization. These not only define the organization’s ability to serve customers in the event of disruption, but also demonstrate a duty of care to its staff no matter what happens.”

Dave Austin, Director at Operational Resilience (Oprel) Ltd in the United Kingdom commented: “The new standard brings international consensus on best practice in the key discipline of business continuity management and for the first time, organizations across the globe will be able to demonstrate their capability to interested parties and top management through accredited certification. It builds upon and will supersede the immensely successful specification on BCM.”

As the world at large continues to deal an unexpected hand to organizations of all shapes and sizes, BSI states that simply buying the new ISO standard will not be enough. With the CMI report citing that only 22 per cent of organizations actually conduct a full emergency scenario to test out their BCM plan, it is evident that organizations still have a long way to go before BCM is fully embraced and the benefits of planning excellence are reaped.

BSI’s top five tips for embedding Business Continuity Management in an organization’s culture

  • Make sure senior management are continually involved and engaged in Business Continuity. They have the most comprehensive view of the organization and their support will ensure Business Continuity is taken seriously.
  • Don’t skip on exercising and testing, short of a real incident this is the best way to find the holes in your plans, with the advantage that your customers won’t read about it in the press or social media.
  • Undertake a thorough risk assessment and business impact analysis and include all dependencies - be outward, as well as inward looking, in particular looking further down your supply chain.
  • Implement a systematic approach to business continuity ensuring the currency of BCM.
  • Follow international best practices - why reinvent the wheel when hundreds of experts have helped develop a BCM best practice approach that works and is recognized internationally?

About BSI

BSI (British Standards Institution) is a global organization that equips businesses with the necessary solutions to turn standards of best practice into habits of excellence. Formed in 1901, BSI was the world’s first National Standards Body and a founding member of the International Organization of Standardization (ISO). Over a century later it continues to facilitate business improvement across the globe by helping its clients drive performance, reduce risk and grow sustainably through the adoption of international management systems standards, many of which BSI originated.

BSI is a trusted partner to industry and government with a focus to support their business objectives through the transfer of knowledge of best practices, assurance services to identify and measure performance indicators, training services to aid the building of organizational competency and enable continual improvement, and the tools to monitor, enhance and report on compliance against the organization's management system objectives. With over 64,000 clients in 147 countries, BSI is an organization whose standards inspire excellence across the globe. 

For more information about the business continuity management systems standard visit: www.bsiamerica.com/iso22301