BUSINESS AGILITY AND CONTINUITY

PLANNING IN THE FACE OF DISASTERS

Every organization whether for profit or nonprofit , public or private should protect themselves against, prepare for, respond to, and recover when disruptive incidents like the COVID 19 pandemic arise .The management at the top most level must  plan., establish, implement, operate, monitor, review, maintain and continually improve business continuity system.

BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLAN

The business continuity plan should outline procedures and instructions an organization must follow in the face of disasters which create uncertainty. The business continuity system adopted must cover all the business processes (technical and administrative), assets, human resources, partners and more.

Many organizations, big corporations and SME`s don’t find the need to invest in business continuity systems, until they are affected. They lack frameworks for on-going success. The attitude of many organizations` leadership is that it will not happen to us, will not happen soon, it has never happened, it happens in other regions! Business leaders must not just focus on the certain but must provide for uncertainties. They must be in cognizance that disasters like COVID 19, floods, drought, wars, civil disobedience, political instability terrorism etc. will always strike there in different scales; the time is unknown.

The direct effects of disasters include, loss of human resource, loss of key. assets, installations, disruption of supply of raw materials, disruption and total closure of markets.

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GUIDELINES

Organizations must follow business continuity standards` guidelines to ensure that they are meeting their Business Continuity goals. Standards give businesses a chance to demonstrate that they are effectively protecting their employee’s facilities, assets, and stakeholders.

For years, Business Continuity professionals were calling for a single harmonized international standard that would reflect the increasingly global nature of many organizations The International Organization for Standardization released the ISO 22301 in 2012 which has been revised since then. This increasingly popular standard includes a “plan–do–check–act” type of framework for managing business continuity.

The Broad task ahead is to build economies and organizations that are more durable and can survive the anarchy of the global disasters like the COVID 19 This can be facilitated by adopting tested business continuity programmes that make organizations more agile and capable of withstanding these disasters. It’s up to organizations to develop and maintain a business continuity programme get buy-in from leadership, and ensure the program gets the necessary support including resourcing.

The purpose of implementing a business continuity system is to ensure operations continue , products and services are delivered at predefined levels, that brands and value-creating activities and processes  are protected, and that the reputations and interests of key stakeholders are safeguarded whenever disruptive incidents occur to the extent possible.

Your business context is and will remain uncertain. But if you get moving now, you can ride the waves of uncertainty instead of being overpowered by them.

HOW TO BUILD RESILIENCE

The first step after buy in by the top leadership is to carry out an organization wide awareness campaign to all staff. This allows a second level buy in by the staff who will eventually be the implementers of the business continuity processes. Business continuity thinking must be inculcated at all levels of the organization to succeed. Remember-business continuity management is a continual process, not a “one-and-done” task. and therefore, must be part of the organization practices.

The next step is to understand your organization and its unique context. A select team of managers must seat to reflect on the objectives of the organization and the objectives to be achieved by the business continuity programme .The team will consider the internal and external factors that may affect or influence achievement of the of the organizational objectives. This includes identifying the particular factors that create your organization's uncertainty ,that increase its risks and establishment of organization's risk criteria.

Beyond the context, it is important to define the scope of your business continuity programme by clearly identifying your key interest groups  and their requirements /needs, review all the legal and statutory requirements that affect your line of business to help you understand your organization better. Reflect how disruptive incidents could impact your organization when you think about what the scope of your BCM should be. Contemplate all the factors that create your organization's uncertainty and increase risks.

Once the scope has been defined, establish a business continuity system after determining all the processes needed which must be clearly linked to the context of the organization. It is advisable that the determined business continuity processes be documented. The system established must be based on a standard, a benchmark or a tested framework. Standards exist to help organizations work through the important tasks associated with successful BCM and ensure benefits are accrued from widely accepted best practices and industry knowledge. Clearly determine how the business continuity processes interact and link to the organizational goals, mission and vision. At this point, the business continuity policy is established as the overall guide to the organization on business continuity as per the aspirations of the top management. The top management should also ensure clear allocation of responsibility and authority for carrying out business continuity roles to the appropriate people within your organization.

For guiding specific activities downstream, it is important to set up specific business continuity objectives for each unit in the organization. Ensure establishment of plans to continually achieve your business continuity objectives This makes business continuity management a continual process, not a “one-and-done” task.

The management must ensure resources for establishing, maintaining and continually improving the business continuity plans are provided. The human resources must be competent and be made aware of their responsibilities. Communication must be enhanced, and management of documented processes properly controlled for effectiveness and efficiency throughout the organization.

The next step is to study disruptions and risks that could affect the organization and set your priorities. Establish document, implement and maintain a process that your organization can follow to analyze business impacts and assess risks. Evaluate and set business continuity and recovery priorities through a documented process. Once this in place, assess risks, identify risk treatment options specifically those that could interrupt your business or organizational activities. This process must be continuously maintained, and responsibilities and authorities properly allocated in line with the business continuity policy.

With this background of processes, the organization can now develop a business continuity strategy to handle disruptions. This must be based on executed using impact analysis and risk assessment outputs carried out earlier. The organization must ensure that the strategy explains how to plan and handle prioritized activities and the impact disruptions could have on these activities. The strategy must also be clear on how manage the impact that disruptions could have on the people and partners that your activities depend on.

The management must ensure that the strategy is implemented through establishment and implementation of disruption and continuity management procedures to manage disruptive incidents and continue your organization's prioritized activities. These must have an incident response disruption warning and communication structure and a description of how you plan to ensure that your prioritized activities will continue or recover to predefined levels within predetermined timeframes.

Finally, the organization should establish suitable business recovery and restoration procedures and continually monitor and evaluate the implementation of the business continuity strategy. It is recommended that exercises/drills be conducted to test business continuity plans and procedures to help continually improve the business continuity program.

DIGITAL DISCIPLINE

Future resilients will likely have a clear view of which critical processes should be digitized to drive near-term value and which initiatives (such as creating new offerings or investing to extend customer reach) are critical to remaining competitive.

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Your business context is and will remain uncertain. But if you get moving now, you can ride the waves of uncertainty instead of being overpowered by them.