In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, business continuity plans (BCPs), processes, and programs have never been in greater demand. But we’ve been here before.
Both the 11 September 2001 terror attacks and late 2000’s financial crisis spurred similar upticks in the popularity of business continuity management systems (BCMS). And yet, by the time COVID-19 came along, an alarming number of companies were unprepared.
Why didn’t business continuity management take off before; and how can you build a sustainable program today?
No doubt, creating a business case for sustainable business continuity resources is the best place to start. But not just any old business case will do. The business case you provide to senior leadership will have to demonstrate the program’s value to obtain approval. It will also have to answer critical questions about outsourcing, in addition to prioritized projects and funding sources.
What’s more, where that case begins is just as critical as where it ends. In surveys, business continuity managers typically decry a lack of executive buy in or senior-leadership engagement in their business continuity management programs. And so, we surmise that a lack of compelling business cases even hurt business continuity management programs that are greenlit.
How to build that case? Start with an executive summary that lays out the numbers. If you’ve suffered from disruptions before, highlight the relevant incident, often numerous incidents of the same kind, to make the procurement decision more relevant to senior leadership.
Document the monetary cost of responding to the critical event – later in the business case, you can juxtapose the costs to the subscription prices of the vendors you have shortlisted to demonstrate the return on investment for your continuity solution. Don’t forget non-monetary impacts, either, e.g. lost productivity, depressed morale, customer complaints, and reputational damage. Those indirect costs can be just as stark as direct hits to revenue.
Show your knowledge of industry trends, as well. Surveys indicates that a failure to properly prepare for crises increases the risk of post-crisis business closure. Roughly 40 to 60 percent of small businesses close after a natural disaster, according to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). And those rates are largely driven by the overwhelming 90 percent of businesses that fail because they can’t resume operations within five days.
Why don’t they? Well, 20 percent of surveyed companies don’t spend any time maintaining their continuity plans, including provisions for IT redundancy, data management, and emergency supplies.
Describe the wider business context in which you are asking for resources for your business continuity program. That context is marked by accelerating disruption. A 2018 Forrester study revealed that a full 100 percent of surveyed organizations confronted at least one critical event in a 24-month period – many responded to multiple crises, with the average being four.
From where do those threats issue? Well, according to the BCI Horizon Scan Report 2020 put out by the BSI Group, health and safety incidents, IT and telecom outages, cyber-attacks and data breaches, and lack of talent/key skills were 2019’s leading disruptions.
Add to that, organizations facing one critical event – say a global health crisis – aren’t inoculated against a simultaneous hit from another. Instead, without proper planning, they are more vulnerable. Case in point: largely unplanned for, the sudden rise of remote working arrangements as a response to government-mandated lockdowns was accompanied by a surge in cyber activity.
Including those data points in the context of the incidents your own company has addressed should be more than enough to pique the interest of senior management. But your work isn’t done, there. You still have to define the aims of your specific business continuity program.
If you're looking to take on a business continuity software system to assist in your efforts, we've covered all of the features you should be looking for in our Buyer's Guide to Purchasing Business Continuity Software. Check it out the complimentary guide here: