Digitalising Business Continuity Management

2022-05-20
How can digitalising business continuity improve your organization's resilience capabilities? We find out from 4C Strategies Principal Consultant Ben White.

What impact has the changing threat landscape had on Business Continuity Planning?

As we come through the other side of the pandemic and straight into more business continuity challenges, potentially driven by the Ukraine crisis, we have seen a steady increase in the number of organizations reaching out for support to improve their Business Continuity Programs.

The fact that the majority of organizations are updating their BCM programs is a testament to the dynamic nature of today’s business landscape. A growing number of potential threats, from cyberattacks to supply chain issues to natural disasters, has made effective business continuity planning more important than ever before. If your organization hasn’t implemented actionable ways to improve its business continuity planning, it’s not too late.

Is it time to rethink Business Continuity?

When I think about all the clients I get to work with – developing and supporting them with business continuity – in combination with the industry trends I currently see – it’s hard not to imagine a world where they can be brought together through digital. With that in mind and considering the obstacles and challenges facing organizations today, one could ask how it might look if it were digitalised. So, let’s explore a little.

The digital advantage in a crisis

  • If we look at one of the most important outcomes of effective business continuity – during an incident or crisis – and how all the vital business continuity planning and the wider program around it supports us, interestingly, we typically see the following:

    • Business continuity plans are not readily available during a crisis. People consider referencing bulky binders and / or scrolling through long pdf documents to be too time consuming and problematic. Additionally, version control is a common issue.
    • Business impact analyses are overly complex and confusing, and as a result, they are unused.
    • Business impact analyses are not available or not considered as part of an assessment of the situation.
    • Business continuity plans are not used or even referred to during a crisis.
    • There is a duplication of efforts in the form of playbooks or other plans.
  • Digitalise your business continuity program, however, and managing a crisis looks very different:

  • Business continuity plans are available on staff’s mobile devices.

  • Business continuity plans are searchable and can be easily filtered to find relevant data.

  • Business impact analyses can be filtered in real-time based on the known loss or dependency.

  • Invocation of plans creates a workflow of tasks distributed enterprise-wide to the right individuals and functions, supported by texts, emails or in-system notifications.

  • Monitoring of task status is possible from anywhere and is permissions-based.

Digitalising Business Continuity Planning

  • Of course, managing a crisis is just one output of effective business continuity planning. If we turn to business continuity planning itself, we typically encounter the following issues or obstacles in organizations:

  • There is no visualisation of the current status of plans, including what has been completed, reviewed and tested, or who the process owners are.

  • The testing regime of current plans is not visualized.

  • There is a lack of buy-in from management, usually due to a lack of visibility or involvement.

  • Business impact analyses and business continuity plans are often written in isolation when a collaborative approach would provide better results.

    • Business continuity plans have not been thoroughly tested to see how they hold up when called upon in a disruption.
  • Digitalising your business continuity planning, on the other hand, would offer considerable benefits. These include:

  • Continuity plans are tested and executed automatically to a predetermined schedule, ensuring they are fit-for-purpose.

  • Intuitive dashboards allow you to provide a real-time executive overview of critical dependencies as well as operational, organizational and IT continuity status.

  • Automated reporting saves time and resources previously spent on the collection, consolidation and reporting of business continuity data.

  • Business impact analyses and business continuity plans can be developed collaboratively and centrally. Often many activities or processes use the same systems or premises and so this information only needs capturing once.

Three big wins with digital

As businesses digitalise many of their operations, business continuity must keep pace with the rest of the business. If I were to summarise why digitalising business continuity is a must moving forward for organizations it’s because it offers three considerable outcomes:

  • Much of the business continuity planning can act as the predetermined response to a particular crisis.
  • A single business impact analysis can be filtered and then used to inform situational awareness in a crisis.
  • There can be a direct link between business continuity management systems and a crisis management response

If you recognise some or all of these issues and obstacles in your organization and would like to get support to resolve them, we can help. If you are considering how to move forward with digitalisation, we have the optimal tool covering BCM that can be extended to include the entire organizational resilience scope.

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