BCM Advice for beginners

Business Continuity for Beginners

The Continuity Forum is pleased to share with you a brief overview of the business continuity management process for those new to the subject. 


While bombs, fires and floods capture the headlines, almost 90 percent of crises are nowhere near as dramatic. It is these quiet catastrophes that have the potential to damage your organization’s most valuable assets; its brand and reputation. These can be destroyed very quickly unless strongly defended at times when the speed and scale of events can overwhelm normal operational and management systems.

Recent research has suggested that, on average, 20 percent of all organizations will experience some form of unplanned event once every five years. Whilst it is unlikely to be as catastrophic as 9/11, there is still the need to think about how you would cope with the more mundane events, such as power cuts or transport problems.

Who does it concern?

The fact that organizations are now so dependant on their IT systems has meant that during the last 20 years the IT department has led the way in planning how to recover from an unplanned event. But restoring data and system access is not enough when there is nowhere for employees to answer the phones or suppliers cannot deliver critical components. Incidents as simple and common as an extended power loss, telecoms failure or the loss of building heating may cause critical business functions to be disabled. All of these are outside the scope of the IT department and impact all aspects of the organisation.

So the short answer is: it concerns every department of every organization - it is not just an IT issue.

Business Continuity Management

The options for dealing with an unplanned event include:

· Doing nothing
· Taking out insurance
· Preparing a business continuity plan.

Whilst the first of these is the easiest and most common option it is not recommended, for obvious reasons. The second can appear attractive, but will not cover you for events such as lost customers. So in the long-run preparing and testing a business continuity plan makes good economic sense.

Traditionally disaster recovery (DR) has been the start and finish of organizational strategy for dealing with an unplanned event. This would ensure that IT systems and data can be restored after unscheduled downtime. But over the last few years the growth of business continuity management (BCM) has meant a shift in focus to the prevention of such events, rather than the cure that is disaster recovery.

This has meant that disaster recovery has now become a subset of the whole process.

Business continuity management covers the whole lifecycle of disaster prevention and recovery. Although the initiative usually originates from IT, BCM embraces the entire organization. It provides a planned and controlled method of anticipating and responding to events that are likely to interrupt key business activities.
Putting in place a business continuity plan will help you to:

· Avoid financial losses
· Meet legal requirements
· Avoid loss of market share
· Protect the safety of assets including employees
· Mitigate negative publicity.

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