Do we really still need to raise awareness of Business Continuity (BC)? According to Peter Groucutt, managing director of Databarracks the answer is yes!
Recently, his 2019 Data Health Check survey revealed almost half of UK businesses (46 per cent) don’t have an up-to-date BC Plan. What’s stopping them?
The purpose of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is to keep the organisation going whatever is thrown at it. That includes major disasters like fires and floods, IT incidents like cyber-attacks to more mundane daily occurrences, like traffic and transport issues.
It’s not a document that can be created once and left. It has to be regularly updated and tested. In fact, an out-dated plan can be more damaging than no-plan because it provides a false sense of preparedness.
A three-year old plan referring to long-retired employees and out-dated systems will just confuse and frustrate at an already stressful time.
So, what are reasons organisations not investing in a BC plan?
I can’t afford a business continuity plan
There is a misconception that BC has to be expensive, that you need consultants and costly alternative workplace contracts. That’s not the case. Firstly, your plan should fit yourbusiness. It’s only worth spending a lot if disruption would cost you a lot.
You decide what is appropriate to spend by carrying out a risk assessment and a Business Impact Analysis (BIA). This determines the potential effects of a disruption and the resulting impact on the business. There are also lots of solutions you can employ that will keep running during a disruption for little or no cost.
Remote working is now widespread so if offices are unavailable (for whatever reason), more businesses can simply allow staff work from home.
If IT is down what manual processes can you use that don’t add extra cost? At airports, when digital display boards go down, staff use white boards to communicate information.
The Business Continuity Institute provides access to a wealth of resources and industry knowledge, focused on developing and building BC competency in organisations.
I don’t have time to put a business continuity plan together
This is also the reason organisations don’t keep their plans up-to-date. They treat BC as a project once every 3 or 5 years and don’t maintain them in the interim.
The time between ‘projects’ is actually half the problem because so much needs to be done each time. A small commitment of time to maintain, exercise and update the plans keeps them functional. There are tricks you can use to make testing part of your Business-as-Usual operations, rather than a special activity needing extra work.
In an interview for our podcast (The BCPcast) The Economist magazine revealed they use the London tube strikes to practice the remote working aspects of its BC plans. Also, take inspiration from industries that handle incidents daily. Hospitality, for instance, regularly deals with power outages, supplier failures, IT problems and even security and terrorism issues. That frequency means dealing with these issues becomes Business-as-Usual because plans are in place and staff know exactly what to do.
Business continuity is not my responsibility
Not all organisations are large enough to need a dedicated BC manager. In smaller businesses, it isn’t always clear who should manage it. For some, it’s finance, operations, facilities management or even HR. Most commonly, responsibility is pushed down to IT, but BC is bigger than IT.
IT can recover servers and IT systems but responsibility for the survivability of the business ultimately sits with the board. It may not be someone’s entire role, but there needs to be someone named with responsibility for BC. They are the person who makes sure recovery processes are in place and stays on top of new risks and changes, to keep the organisation resilient.