Business continuity can be concisely defined as the business process that prepares us to keep our products and services, and therefore, our revenue flowing under extreme adverse circumstances.
A typical business continuity program should consider, at a minimum, four primary disruption scenarios including:
- Disruption of IT Services – any disruption affecting access to IT services. Often referred to as IT disaster recovery
- Workplace Disruption – any disruption of a business entity (offices, call centers, trading rooms, manufacturing plants, labs, warehouses, etc.)
- Workforce Disruption – any disruption involving personnel such that sufficient, trained, and skilled personnel are not available. Possible causes may include labor actions, pandemic, and regional disasters where the community or public infrastructure is severely impacted causing severe absenteeism.
- Supply Disruption – any external supplier, service provider, utility, or logistics disruption that stops or slows the movement of critical products and/or services
Business continuity management is still a function that fills important gaps in the risk management models of most companies. Organizations survive by being competitive. They improve their ability to compete by becoming more efficient. Efficiency generally involves consolidation at the physical level or the process level. The dark side of efficiency improvements is often increased risk.
While consolidating your business with a single supplier may yield savings, it is often at the expense of substantially increased risk. The same is true for consolidating business processes into a single location. Not only does consolidation put all (or at least more of) your eggs in one basket, it also raises the potential business impact while limiting recovery options and flexibility in the event something goes wrong.
Continuity risks are characterized by relatively low likelihoods coupled with potentially devastating consequences. Clear and thoughtful consideration should be given to anything that could cause a thriving organization to fail. More immediately, and almost certainly, every organization will need to improve its capabilities in order to remain competitive as every organization seeks to reduce its risk through aggressive supplier management practices.
Business continuity is about being able to continue to deliver products and services, drive revenue and protect your brand. At its core it is all about trust. Just as having adequate insurance coverage is a requirement for all B2B businesses, you can expect to see increasing scrutiny of your security and business continuity programs, if you have not already. At the same time, some of your greatest risks lie in your supply chain. You should be taking action to make sure that a key supplier doesn’t cause you to fail. And make sure that you are not the reason that others fail. Nothing good can come from either scenario.