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Business Continuity vs. Organizational Resilience

Businesses have their hands full trying to stay afloat in volatile times. As a result, many have cottoned on to the importance of organizational resilience and business continuity as necessary practices to stay prepared. But despite important overlaps, the fields themselves are very different. What are the key distinctions organizations should know? 

The main differences between organizational resilience and business continuity

Organizational resilience, for one, is the ability of an organization to absorb change and adapt, so as to deliver on objectives, survive, and prosper.

Business continuity, on the other hand, is the capability of an organization to continue the delivery of products and services within acceptable time frames at a predefined capacity during a disruption.

Of course, the differences go on from there.

Core principles of organizational resilience and business continuity

Indeed, a challenge to enhancing organizational resilience is that there is no single approach. Established management disciplines, such as business continuity, can contribute to resilience.

Yet they won’t, on their own, ensure an organization gets and stays resilient. What will?

Organizational resilience, as argued in international standard ISO 22316, results from the interaction of attributes, activities, and contributions made from other technical and scientific areas of expertise – all of which are influenced by the way in which uncertainty is addressed, decisions are made and enacted, and how people work together.

And just like an organization’s resilience will be influenced by a unique interaction and combination of strategic and operational factors, the outcomes of its business continuity management system (BCMS), as notes ISO 22301, will also be shaped by legal, regulatory, organizational, and industry requirements, products and services provided, processes employed, size and structure, and the requirements of its interested parties.

Download Business Continuity versus Organizational Resilience: The differences between ISO 22301 & ISO 22316

Attributes of organizational resilience and effective business continuity management systems

But what of resilient organizations? Resilient organizations are entities that exhibit the following attributes:

  • Behavior is aligned with a shared vision and purpose
  • Have an up-to-date understanding of the organization’s context
  • Rely upon good governance and management
  • Supported by a diversity of skills, leadership, knowledge, and experience(s)
  • Have coordinated across management disciplines and garnered contributions from technical and scientific areas of expertise
  • Effectively managing risk

Resilient organizations also feature strong leaders. More specifically, senior leaders of resilient organizations have taken the time to develop and encourage others to lead under a range of conditions and circumstances.

Those conditions include periods of uncertainty and disruption.

Meanwhile, a well-functioning BCMS will emphasize the importance of understanding the organization’s needs and the necessity for establishing business continuity policies and objectives.

It will also underline the need to operate and maintain processes, capabilities, and response structures that ensure the organization will survive disruption as well as continue to improve based on qualitative and quantitative measures.

Per ISO 22301, a BCMS, like any other management system, includes the following components:

  • A policy
  • Competent people with defined responsibilities
  • Management processes relating to:
    • Policy
    • Planning
    • Implementation and operation
    • Performance assessment
    • Management review
    • Continual improvement
    • Documented information supporting operational control and enabling performance evaluation

That’s not all. Businesses should understand that values such as information and knowledge sharing are integral to achieving both organizational resilience and maintaining a solid BCMS. How so? Download the following guide which parses the differences between organizational resilience and business continuity for more.

Download Business Continuity versus Organizational Resilience: The differences between ISO 22301 & ISO 22316