Business Continuity

A Guide to Business Continuity Management, Planning, and Disaster Recovery Citing Sample Template, Software and Solution For Business Continuity Plans

Business Continuity Is More Than Just Picking Up The Pieces

The spate of devastating earthquakes in several parts of the world, the increasing incidence of flooding in the Midwest and in many corners of the globe, and the unusual weather conditions and phenomena that threaten lives, infrastructure, properties, resources, and businesses remind business owners and managers of the importance of having a certain strategy to ensure that the business can get back on its feet after going through a disaster. How do you think can corporate organizations in Japan recover various data critical to their business after being shaken by a massive earthquake and washed off by tsunami? When a fire razes your office, are your business documents and other resources safe and intact to allow continuation of operations? What did organizations in Chicago, Illinois do when the flu pandemic threatened their businesses? How should a Toyota car dealer cope with the impact of massive recall? What contingency does a bank have to ensure the continuance of its services in the event of a major terroristic act? Any unpredictable crisis can grip and put an end to companies, making the process of business continuity planning an essential practice for any business entity.

The Definition of Business Continuity Planning

Business continuity planning or BCP is the process of formulating a detailed blueprint of how an organization can remain in business following a disaster, such as the ones mentioned above and any incidents which threaten to interrupt the business causing losses or its closure, including happenings that affect things upon which the business relies on. Examples of these are loss of a crucial network of infrastructure; loss of source of supply, or in the event of theft or vandalism. The definitio of the program includes proactively identifying the vulnerability of a company to internal and external risks, and integrating hard and soft assets to provide effective solutions to help prevent or recover from an unfortunate event. All these are done while staying competitive and cohesive. With this nature, BCP encompasses risk management and is considered as an inexpensive insurance any company can obtain against unwanted interruptions. Although many companies have taken this planning seriously, even composing their respective business continuity statement, but not all companies have taken the steps to formulate this important plan.

Differentiating Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery

Do not confuse business continuity vs. disaster recovery. Disaste recovery is just the getting back on one’s feet part, and is only the reactive half of the business continuity equation. In comparison, business continuity plan embraces both this reactive approach and a proactive strategy that is formulated to identify, avoid or minimize risks, retain some level of service while resuscitating the business back to normal operations. For example, part of a company’s BCP to mitigate risks in the IT department and the various data it takes care of must be preventive measures, such as using a safe programming language (PL) to protect it from cyber attacks, or through virtualizatio. A business continuit plan is often formulated for implementation in the entire organization, rather than per business unit (BU) or department.

Should You Get A Certification for Your Organization’s Business Continuity Management System?

The British Standards Institution is the standard certifying body in the UK. Its current counterpart in the US is the National Fire Protection Association. Getting your company certified with the Business Continuity Management standard, BS 25999, shows your clientele, suppliers, personnel and investors that you abide by the best practices highly respected by the industry, hence giving you a competitive advantage. The certificati is proof that your BCM system has sailed through a strict objective evaluation.

Do not rush your business to be certified. You may need to polish up your system before it can pass the assessment. Consider referring to or using BSI’s BCM tools available online to help evaluate your BCM plan and policy, and document and report compliance so that you gain confidence in applying for certification. The BSI site also includes a checklist tool that you can use to appraise the capacity of your business to deal with interruptions, giving you a score once you finish answering questions regarding your company’s practices.

There are many more sources of information on business continuity. You can find a good white paper on the topic, courses, conferences and training programs online. One example is the Business Continuity Institute’s BCI Endorsed Training. You can also check out the schedules of business continuity conferences through the BSI website. One concluded conference was held in Korea last December 2010.

Who Formulates and Implements Business Continuity Plans?

The challenging task of formulating and implementing a business continuity plan opens up an avenue of jobs and a career path for people in a related profession. A good candidate for the position of business continuity manager or planner could either be a consultant or a permanent employee of the organization. This key person can be a home grown employee who has been in a consulting role for some years already, with a broad view of the company’s processes and possesses the analytical skill to identify critical aspects of the business, the aptitude to orchestrate the whole framework, and the ability to broker the plan to the various departments. Given the assortment of certifications and training for continuing education, it would be worth grooming someone from within the company to be a trailblazer in this career path, provided that the company has the wherewithal to train the employee and could find a mentor to guide him through the course and the methodology.

The company can also hire someone whose education is already in line with this specific field, as there are already courses offered for this profession, such as Boston University’s (BU) Master of Science in Management, Specialization in Business Continuity, Security and Risk Management. Another option would be to outsource the job to a business continuity planner or consultant who can provide the specialized service on a consultancy basis. With the wide acceptance of business continuity planning among businesses, you can find numerous consultants and planners already specializing in this field.

Things To Consider When Formulating a Business Continuity Plan

Scope of the Plan. The first thing to do in creating this plan is to work out its breadth, which can be done by evaluating the very essential facets of the organization that must be shielded from any cataclysms.

Pin It on Pinterest