The Role of Senior Leadership in Business Continuity and Resilience
The COVID crisis demonstrated that managing a company’s capacity to continue to deliver products and services during a disruption shouldn’t be a back-office activity. What it requires, instead, is serious, senior management engagement.
What then is the exact role of senior leadership in business continuity and resilience?
Senior leadership engagement in monitoring business continuity and resilience performance
For starters, senior leaders will have to strive to establish and document their commitment to business continuity and resilience management. As to the first, they must have a hand in crafting the business continuity policy as well as establishing and documenting relevant roles, responsibilities, and authorities.
The same goes for resilience. Related to business continuity, resilience is the ability of an organization to absorb change and adapt, to deliver on objectives, survive, and prosper.
Maintaining organizational resilience, though, entails continually monitoring performance against pre-determined criteria – just like ensuring business continuity.
In fact, that should be an organizational ethic, promoted by senior leadership.
Such an organizational culture, demonstrated by a commitment to validating and improving resilience activities and capabilities continually, will serve to ensure that larger, business objectives, strategies, and procedures are kept relevant and appropriate in supporting the changing needs of the organization.
How can senior leaders make that happen? Best-practice guidance recommends prioritizing the implementation of performance monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to support continual improvement.
Not just that. Senior leaders must also work to ensure that performance management criteria are responsive to changes that affect organizational objectives.
For its part, business continuity best-practice standard ISO 22301 calls out the necessity of internal audit programs. Components of that program include determining and documenting arrangements for the following:
- Monitoring, measurement, analysis, and evaluation
- Internal audit
- Management review
Senior leadership engagement when businesses change
How about when organizations change or the business environment around them does? Under senior management sponsorship, the business continuity management system (BCMS) should keep up with those changes.
What’s more, business continuity and resilience teams, again with sponsorship from top management, must also identify nonconformities and take corrective actions to continue to enhance the overall performance of the BCMS.
To do so, though, the following procedures will have to be established:
- Non-conformance identification, reporting, and consequence control
- Corrective actions (system changes)
- Continual improvement
Senior leaders can’t do it all, though. Besides direct engagement, senior leaders will need to recruit a stock of qualified professionals with relevant knowledge, skills, and experiences.
They will also have to ensure that lower-level staffers are apprised of their roles in responding to disruptions or maintaining resilience.
That’s not all. In addition to recruitment, senior leaders will need to invest in the appropriate knowledge-sharing assets and technologies.
What are their purposes? Well, the resilience management technologies in question should help contribute to the end-goal of capacity diversification, replication, and redundancy. That way organizations can avoid single points of failure, respond to incidents in such a way that core services are maintained at an acceptable, pre-determined level.
So, what then should senior leaders be looking for? They should be looking for the business continuity and resilience management solutions with the best ROI. Not sure what those are? Download our guide to Calculating the ROI of Business Continuity Management.