In the early days of Business Continuity, it was not uncommon for as few as 2-3 people in an organization to be involved in what was labeled business continuity planning and which quite often focused almost exclusively on recovery of IT operations.
In some cases, almost no one else in the organization knew what Business Continuity was, its purpose, or what those individuals did.
In some cases, almost no one else in the organization knew what Business Continuity was, its purpose, or what those individuals did.Fast forward to today. Business Continuity is viewed as a core enterprise-wide business practice that goes well beyond the data center. Business Continuity management has evolved and matured and is now widely viewed as having a significant role in developing resilient organizations.
The question then becomes, as Business Continuity practitioners how can we take an active role in contributing to developing organizational resilience? With whom can we work to help improve organizational resilience?
- Avoid complacency; resilience is about creating partnerships and searching for ways to continually improve every facet of business continuity. Consider new approaches, strategies, and technologies rather than simply doing things the way they have always been done.
- Be innovative in ways to build awareness about Business Continuity to make continuity an integral part of the organization’s culture.
- Be receptive and give full consideration to ideas for improving Business Continuity from others, including those not directly involved in BCM.
- When possible, talk with people in person or by phone. Get out of your chair/office; have coffee with people from other departments other than those involved solely with Business Continuity.
- Personally thank people for contributing information for a BIA or participating in an exercise.
- Plan brown bag lunches with presentations on business continuity, work safety, or home and family emergency preparedness.
- Incorporate ways to develop human resilience; help encourage and assist all employees to prepare their families and homes to respond to disasters.
- Ask that department managers periodically include business continuity as an agenda item for their department meetings and briefings. Explore having business continuity as an agenda item in town hall meetings.
- Work with R&D and those involved in new product and service development to include business continuity during the development process – not as an afterthought once the product or service has been launched and continuity challenges surface.
- Establish and get involved in external, as well as internal, business continuity working groups as a way to exchange information, trends, and ideas.
- Include procedures to fully capture and act on lessons learned from exercises, tests, near misses, and actual events, as well as from the experiences of other organizations.
- Strive not just to continue. During and following disruptions, look for ways to advance and improve – that’s resilience.
- Resiliency requires coordination that crosses department lines. Rededicate efforts to work with all business units to incorporate business continuity in their day-to-day operations.
- Get continuity, risk, disaster recovery, emergency management, health & safety, cybersecurity, and other related business units to first agree on a shared vocabulary. Avoid the possibility of “turf wars” and planning gaps, work together to define and clarify responsibilities, ownership and scope, and boundaries and interdependencies.
There is a relatively new term that has entered the business continuity lexicon: business resilience. One definition is IBM’s take on the term, “The ability of an organization to rapidly adapt and respond to internal or external dynamic changes – opportunities, demands, disruptions or threats – and continue operations with limited impact to the business.”
This is another way of saying that the organization has developed and maintains a comprehensive Business Continuity Management System. It is what excellent business continuity professionals do. It is what resilient organizations have as a goal.