Business Continuity: Dead or Alive?

It is sometime in 2021, life has returned to ‘normal’, you are walking into an audit and risk committee meeting and you are asked: “What is the state of our business continuity program?”

It is not 2021, and life is certainly not ‘normal’. But we are settling into a new rhythm that is likely to stay with us for the foreseeable future. So what does this mean for business continuity and crisis management – our BCM programmes?

When you are asked the question in the future about your programme, are you confident you will be able to answer a resounding “STRONG”?

There are already discussions afoot about the future of business continuity planning and what will it look like given we can all, very easily so it seems, work from home. A BCP is more than a work from home plan, and the underlying business impact analysis (BIA) is key to understanding this.

Over the past weeks (and months) we have all learnt a lot about the way we work, the jobs we do, and the priorities we need to set to get the work done. This should be captured in your BIA. Now is the time to update your BIA.

When you sit down to update a BIA, often times we have to imagine what it would be like when we need to use a BCP or activate a scenario to put ourselves in the mindset. Now that we are all there, the information we need to build a robust BIA is at our fingertips:

  • What are the processes we do and how critical are they to the business? Chances are, we are not doing everything we did when we were in the office and what can we learn from that?
  • Things we thought were time critical, may not be whereas other processes have taken on extra criticality to assist others in the business.
  • In the past we may have listed every IT application we thought we needed and how important they were to us. Now that we have changed our working habits, processes and locations, do these assumptions still hold? Do we actually rely on IT in the same way we thought?
  • Not all applications are available off-site so manual workarounds have been developed to cope with this. Are these documented for future reference?
  • We have captured our external dependencies in the past but do we actually need them? Are there others we never thought of before and how important are they to us?
  • Internally we rely on each other a lot so has working from home shown us internal dependencies we never considered and never documented?
  • For many, working from home was a dream that IT could never commit to. Our IT departments have come to the party and shown their worth. So, how has this changed our loss of site strategy and the need for alternate sites as opposed to sending everyone home to work?

I would argue that this valuable information needs to be captured now – before we start moving back to our offices and forgetting what it was like to be at home and what we had to do differently to get our work done.

The BIA we do now needs to be short, sharp and focussed. We are all time poor and juggling our commitments at home and work so:

  • Engage via video and keep the data gathering to no more than one hour.
  • Share your screen so that all participants can see the data and have input.
  • Use automated tools to enable real time updates and collaboration.
  • Empower colleagues to give their thoughts, ideas and feedback as they are living through the situation – this is their BIA.

When this is done, you will have a major input into your post incident review – giving insights into what has changed, what workarounds have been built, what was learnt and the state of your business.

Take this data, use it in reports and have it ready to update your business continuity plans for the next use whether it be a loss of site (without warning this time), a major IT outage, loss of suppliers or the next pandemic (years away we can only hope).

Get in contact to learn more about our online tool set that can streamline your BIA and BCPs – Business Olympian Battleground – and to learn about how we can assist you through your BCM journey now and into 2021.