I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
Kipling knew a thing or to about how to ask the questions that matter: after all, he was a journalist at one point in his life. In this post I’d like to introduce Kipling’s Guide to Business Continuity using his “Six Serving Men” as a menu.
What (is Business Continuity Management)?
There are many definitions of what constitutes Business Continuity Management, but the one I like the most states simply that “Business Continuity Management is the sum of the things we do today so that the day after a disaster is much like the day before”.
I like this definition because it brings out the facts that it is a management responsibility, that it is associated with actions and not just words, and that the objective is continuity of service.
Why (is Business Continuity Planning important)?
Businesses exist to generate value for their investors by serving their customers. Whilst all mature businesses have Business Plans that emphasise the upside of the business and how well it can perform, all businesses are exposed to risks that have the potential to derail the business and impede its progress towards its objectives.
Some risks are manageable, others are not. The trick is to understand the difference between the two types of risk and identify which parts of the business would be affected the most by the risks.
By preparing and planning for potential disruption, the impact of disruptive events can be minimised and reductions in the level of customer service avoided.
When (should I be doing this)?
The trite answer is “all the time” because Business Continuity Planning needs to be an integral part of your Business As Usual management processes. More realistically, your Business Continuity Plans should be reviewed whenever something changes that could alter the risks.
A change to a business process; a change in key staff or responsibilities; a change in suppliers; or a change in external regulations. All of these could create the need to review your Business Continuity Plans.
How (do I introduce Business Continuity Management into my business)?
Generally speaking the job can be split into two parts: a project to introduce the process into a key part of the business; followed by a process to extend and review the plans and measures that have been introduced, as and when required.
Where (in my business should I be introducing this)?
In anywhere other than a very small company, it is generally a good idea to phase in something like Business Continuity Management. The primary options are to either: cover the entirety of a single location; or, cover a single high value business process or product value chain.
The choice should be made by the senior management on the basis of an introductory “breadth first” analysis of the business as a whole.
Who (should be doing the planning and management)?
Somebody at Board Level should be responsible for the introduction of what is after all a management system into the business. Given that Business Continuity focuses on operational risks, it would be natural for this responsibility to lie within the Production environment: e.g. Operations Director or Service Delivery Director.
Another approach, given that this is all about risk management, is for the responsibility to lie within the Finance Department as they are often more familiar with the concepts of risk management.
Ideally, it should be the responsibility of the Managing Director or Chief Executive as it crosses all departmental boundaries.
I hope this question and answer based approach to the topic of Business Continuity Management is useful and that it inspires you to introduce Business Continuity Management into your business. If you need to know any more on the topic, please get in touch by any of the methods contained on the Contact page.
Agdon Associates and Business Continuity UK are no longer in business. This website is not being updated: it has been left online solely as a source of useful information on Business Continuity.