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BCM Lifecyle: 6 Stages of the Business Continuity Lifecycle

In the age of constant crisis, companies understand the importance of business continuity in continuing the delivery of products or services following disruption. Often missing from the conversation, though, is a key framework guiding the development of business continuity management (BCM) capabilities.

That framework is the business continuity lifecycle. Read on to learn more.

What’s business continuity management?

So, where does the business continuity lifecycle fit? Let’s start with business continuity management itself.

International standard ISO 22301 provides a robust definition of the holistic management process.

According to the standard, BCM is the process of identifying potential threats to an organization and the impacts to business operations those threats, if realized, might cause as well as providing a framework for building organizational resilience with the capability of an effective response that safeguards the interests of the organization’s key stakeholders, reputation, brand, and value-creating activities.

Meanwhile, the business continuity management system is part of the overall management system that establishes, implements, operates, monitors, reviews, maintains, and improves business continuity.

That management system doesn’t just come into being. It requires certain organizational structures, policies, planning activities, responsibilities, procedures, processes, and resources.

Stages of the business continuity lifecycle

A key framework for developing the BC capability, not just the business continuity plan (BCP), is the business continuity lifecycle. That lifecycle includes the following six stages:

1. Impact analysis

The first stage is the impact analysis, which includes two separate entities the business impact analysis (BIA) and the risk assessment.

The BIA defines the impacts of disruption over time to determine the organization’s response, recovery priorities, and resource requirements.

The outcomes of the BIA process – those activities that determine prioritized activities and recovery timeframes and resource requirements – are dependent on the organization’s understanding of both its external and internal operating environments. The latter is inclusive of its business processes, activities, and resources, as well as the potential impacts caused by disruptions to the delivery of products and services.

On the other hand, the risk assessment, as defined in ISO 22301, refers to the overall process of risk identification, risk analysis, and risk evaluation. And to establish, implement, and maintain a formal documented risk assessment process per ISO 22301, organizations should:

  • Identify risks of disruption to the organization’s prioritized activities and the processes, systems, information, people, assets, outsource partners, and other resources that support them
  • Systematically analyze risk
  • Evaluate which disruption related risks require treatment
  • Identify treatments commensurate with business continuity objectives and in accordance with the organization’s risk appetite

2. Design

The data from the impact analysis informs the design of business continuity strategy, the second stage of the BCM lifecycle.

This stage, as the name implies, focuses on the concrete strategies the business will implement to meet the requirements that come out of the impact analysis stage.

Assets that come out of this stage include:

3. Implementation

Implementation is where the rubber hits the road. This is the stage in the BCM lifecycle where the various strategies developed in the design phase are put into practice, often through the development of the business continuity plan itself.

As a refresher, the BCP represents the sum of documented procedures that guide organizations to respond, recover, resume, and restore to a pre-defined level of operation following disruption.

4. Testing

Of course, that BCP must be tested and validated, bringing us to the fourth stage of the BCM lifecycle. Testing, here, refers to the procedure for evaluation.

The purpose of testing BC procedures is to validate that they are consistent with business continuity objectives. To ensure that happens, testing must accomplish the following:

  • Be consistent with the scope and objectives of the BCMS
  • Be based on appropriate scenarios that are well planned with clearly defined aims and objectives
  • Validate whole business continuity arrangements, involving relevant interested parties
  • Minimize the risk of disruption of operations
  • Produce formalized post-exercise reports that contain outcomes, recommendations, and actions to implement improvements
  • Be reviewed within the context of promoting continual improvement
  • Be conducted at planned intervals and when there are significant changes within the organization or to the environment in which it operates

5. Maintenance

However, the testing stage isn’t the end of the story. The penultimate stage of the BCM lifecycle is maintenance.

Far from a static stage, though, maintenance is intended to keep aspects of the BCMS in alignment with business imperatives and updated with regards to the business risk environment.

As a result, businesses need a plan of attack to ensure this maintenance stage is rigorous. The following should, therefore, be agreed upon ahead of time:

  • What needs to be monitored and measured
  • The methods for monitoring, measurement, analysis, and evaluation
  • When the monitoring and measuring shall be performed
  • When the results from monitoring and measurement shall be analyzed and evaluated

How might companies conduct maintenance exercises? Internal audits are one way in which companies conduct evaluations of their business continuity procedures and capabilities to ensure continuing suitability, adequacy, and effectiveness.

And it should be senior management that’s responsible for conducting these reviews. After all, senior management can properly evaluate the BCMS within the context of salient changes to the internal and external risk environment.

6. Improvement

For the organization to continually improve the suitability, adequacy, or effectiveness of its BCMS, more than just maintenance will be needed. Indeed, the maintenance stage is set up to yield information on business continuity performance, including trends in nonconformities and corrective actions. Understanding these trends is crucial to improving the BCMS. And that makes improvement the final stage of the BCM lifecycle.

But what does this stage look like in practice, though? It includes the following steps:

  • Identification of nonconformity
  • Reaction to nonconformity, e.g., taking action to control or correct it
  • Evaluation of the need to eliminate the causes of nonconformity
  • Implementation of any action needed
  • Review of the corrective action taken
  • Changes to the BCMS (if necessary)

Software for the BCM lifecycle

The stages of the BCM lifecycle reflect the fact that business continuity and business continuity planning aren’t static.

They require proactive intervention from everyone in the organization, from senior leadership to the business continuity team to business process owners.

Ensuring that these best-practice interventions happen smoothly and efficiently is the role of business continuity software, though.

Platforms like Noggin, in particular, keep your organization prepared and ahead of the curve, with streamlined, integrated, and automated business continuity management that facilitates engagement and collaboration across all stakeholders. But don’t’ just take our word for it. Check out Noggin for yourself by requesting a demonstration

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