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Business Continuity Planning: Building a Resilient Learning Organization

August 4, 2014 - Kestrel Management

When business is disrupted, the costs can be substantial. Unfortunately, every organization is at risk from potential operational disruptions—natural disasters, fire, sabotage, information technology (IT) viruses, data loss, acts of violence. Recent world events have further challenged organizations to prepare to manage previously unthinkable situations that may threaten the future of the business.

Securing Company Assets

This goes beyond the mere Emergency Response Plan or disaster recovery activities that have been previously implemented. Organizations must now engage in a more comprehensive process to secure their companies’ assets (e.g., people, technology, products, and services). Today’s threats require implementation of an ongoing, interactive process that assures the continuation of the organization’s core business activities and data center(s) before, during, and, most importantly, after a major crisis event.

Creating a Resilient Organization

Business continuity planning helps ensure that companies have the resources and information needed to maintain service, reliability, and resiliency under adverse conditions. While companies can’t plan for everything, they can take steps to understand and effectively manage events that might compromise their products/services, supply chain, quality, security, and future as an organization.

A Business Continuity Plan ensures that all involved parties understand who makes decisions, how the decisions are implemented, and what the roles and responsibilities of participants are when an incident occurs. Through business continuity planning, companies are able to:

  • IDENTIFY the human, property, and operational impacts of potential business threats
  • EVALUATE the potential severity of associated risks
  • ESTIMATE the likelihood of business threats occurring
  • CREATE timelines for restoration and strategies that proactively mitigate the most pressing business threats, take advantage of opportunities that lie ahead, and provide for a more resilient and sustainable future

Systematic Approach

A sound Business Continuity Program relies on a systematic approach to identify and critically evaluate risks/opportunities, as outlined below. This approach broadens the scope of issues beyond mere emergency response and allows companies to budget for and secure the necessary resources to support critical business activities before, during, and after a major crisis event. Ultimately, following this process helps companies to stay in business through a time of crisis.

Business_Continuity

Sustaining Business for the Long Term

Sustainability is about staying in business for the long term, and today, business continuity is key to sustaining business over time. That is because a well-developed and implemented Business Continuity Plan:

  • Keeps employees and the community safe when an incident occurs
  • Protects the organization’s important assets (e.g., people, technology, products, services)
  • Reduces disruption to critical functions in order to limit financial impacts due to loss of product/service
  • Reduces adverse publicity, loss of credibility, and loss of customers
  • Reduces legal liability and regulatory exposure
  • Reduces the risk of losing critical business data (e.g., historical, operational, customer, regulatory compliance)
  • Provides for an orderly and timely recovery by allowing critical decisions to be made in a non-crisis mode
  • Helps companies mitigate risks and focus on the future


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Guiding Standards

ISO 22301: Societal Security – Business Continuity Management Systems is specifically designed to help organizations protect against, reduce the likelihood of occurrence, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disruptive incidents when they arise. Like other ISO standards, ISO 22301 applies the Plan-Do-Check-Act/Adjust model to developing, implementing, and continually improving a Business Continuity Management System. Following this internationally recognized standard allows organizations to leverage their existing management systems and ensure consistency with any other ISO management system standards that may already be in place (e.g., ISO 14001 – environment, ISO 9001 – quality, ISO 22000 – food safety).

The American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) Business Continuity Management System Standard, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1600: Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) federal banking requirements for business continuity provide further industry-specific guidance on business continuity management.

 Submitted by: Ted Bleifuss

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