• 27 May 2024, 06:00 AM

Tag Archives: business continuity

Applying Business Continuity in Your Business: Expert Guidance from John Morton for Industry Professionals

In observance of Business Continuity Awareness Week, the spotlight on effective continuity planning has never been more intense. This focus is essential as businesses face an increasingly unpredictable global landscape. Leveraging the deep expertise of John Morton, a seasoned business continuity consultant, this article is designed for industry professionals committed to building resilient organisations. Here, we provide a detailed exploration of how to integrate robust business continuity strategies into your company’s operational blueprint.

Defining Business Continuity in Modern Enterprises

At its core, business continuity planning (BCP) prepares an organisation to maintain essential functions during and after a crisis. John Morton articulates that “true business continuity encompasses preemptive actions and strategies that ensure continued operations, irrespective of external disruptions.” Such a proactive approach is vital for protecting stakeholder interests, sustaining customer trust, and maintaining a competitive edge.

Strategic Implementation of Business Continuity

1. Comprehensive Risk Assessment and Impact Analysis

Starting with a robust risk assessment and business impact analysis (BIA) is essential, according to John Morton. “Each business must identify specific threats that could significantly impact its operations, including digital, physical, and logistical vulnerabilities,” he advises. The BIA aims to quantify the effects of various threats on operational aspects, financial performance, and corporate reputation, thereby prioritising critical areas for intervention.

2. Developing Tailored Mitigation Strategies

Once risks are identified, Morton recommends developing bespoke strategies to mitigate these effectively. Strategies might include enhancing IT infrastructure for cyber resilience, restructuring physical assets for disaster readiness, or diversifying suppliers to mitigate dependency risks. He emphasises that each strategy should align with the company’s risk profile and long-term strategic objectives.

3. Detailed Continuity Plan Development

Creating detailed business continuity plans involves outlining response procedures for various scenarios. These plans should clearly define roles and responsibilities, communication protocols, and recovery time objectives (RTOs). Morton highlights the necessity of these plans being meticulously documented and easily accessible to ensure swift and efficient responses when required.

4. Training, Testing, and Employee Engagement

Morton states, “Effective implementation of continuity plans hinges on thorough training and regular testing.” It’s crucial that all relevant personnel are not only aware of the plans but also proficient in executing their roles under different crisis scenarios. Regular drills and simulations assess the robustness of the plans and identify areas for improvement.

5. Continuous Review and Adaptation

Business continuity is a dynamic component of business strategy that requires regular updates and reviews as business environments and threats evolve. Morton advocates for a structured review process that incorporates feedback from drills, real incidents, and shifts in business operations or strategy.

John Morton’s insights provide industry professionals with a comprehensive framework for embedding resilience into their organisations. By prioritising detailed risk assessment, strategic planning, and continuous improvement, businesses are better positioned to not only withstand unexpected disruptions but also thrive amidst them. As Morton succinctly puts it, “In today’s volatile business landscape, preparedness is synonymous with success.” Through such preparedness, businesses can ensure continuity, safeguard their interests, and secure a sustainable future.

Author: John Morton

Business Continuity Awareness – Why is it important?

Business Continuity Awareness Week began this Monday, 13 May. Are you currently developing or updating a business continuity awareness programme, or brainstorming ideas for one? In this post, we will discuss how to create and deploy an effective business continuity awareness initiative and provide ideas for an engaging campaign during the week.

Business Continuity Awareness – Why is it important?

Understanding business continuity awareness is crucial. Before developing any training, it’s important to address several key questions:

  • What are our goals with business continuity awareness?
  • Who is our target audience within the organisation?
  • Which topics should we cover to ensure our audience is well-informed, and how should we deliver this content?

Often, business continuity training focuses on the need for plans and their contents. While this is appropriate for those creating the plans, it may not resonate with others in the organisation who will be impacted by the activation of these plans. Thus, training should also emphasise why business continuity is vital to the organisation, avoiding the appearance of merely promoting the business continuity function.

Key Objectives of Business Continuity Awareness The primary aim is to ensure the entire organisation is informed and prepared for the invocation of the business continuity plan. We want to guarantee that everyone knows how to stay safe and what actions to take under specific scenarios like evacuation, relocation, or building lockdown. To achieve this, we might simulate different scenarios to demonstrate the established arrangements.

Who Should Be “Business Continuity Aware”? Our programme targets the broader organisation beyond the small group managing initial incident responses. We aim to engage those who haven’t participated in the planning but will be affected by its implementation. Essentially, this programme is for non-specialists who need to understand what happens when a plan is activated and what resources are available.

What Topics Should We Cover? The success of a business continuity awareness programme hinges on content relevance. Ensure the material is pertinent by:

  • Explaining likely scenarios under specific conditions based on the organisation’s type and the plans in place.
  • Detailing how notifications of major incidents will be communicated, whether through SMS, apps, calls, etc., and using visual aids where possible.
  • Outlining expected actions upon receiving a notification, such as confirming receipt or monitoring information sources.
  • Informing where and how updates on the situation can be accessed, identifying primary contacts for updates.
  • Featuring senior management in introductions to emphasise the plan’s importance and everyone’s roles.
  • Using familiarisation elements like images or videos of recovery facilities or simulated event notifications to make the content engaging and lively.

These elements tend to drive engagement, enhance understanding of the organisation’s investment in business continuity, and improve overall preparedness.

We have developed several highly effective Business Continuity Awareness Campaigns for organisations of all sizes. Feel free to get in touch to discuss your needs with us.

Author Steve Dance

Navigating the Post-COVID Workplace: Resurgence, Downsizing, and the Importance of Unity

As organisations worldwide navigate the complexities of the post-COVID era, the workplace is undergoing a profound transformation. While there is a resurgence in workplace recovery initiatives, fuelled by a renewed emphasis on employee well-being and flexibility, some companies are downsizing due to the widespread adoption of remote and hybrid work models. Simultaneously, there is a heightened recognition of the importance of a cohesive team presence, particularly in emergency scenarios.

The Impact of Remote Work and Downsizing:

  1. Downsizing in the Wake of Remote Work:
    • The widespread success of remote work during the pandemic has led some organisations to reevaluate their physical office spaces. In a bid to cut costs and adapt to evolving work preferences, companies are downsizing office footprints, embracing fully remote models, or adopting hybrid work arrangements.
  2. Shifts in Company Culture:
    • The shift to remote and hybrid work has necessitated a reevaluation of company culture. Organisations are exploring innovative ways to foster a sense of belonging and collaboration among team members who may be physically dispersed.
  3. Challenges of Downsizing:
    • While downsizing may bring financial benefits, it also poses challenges such as maintaining team cohesion, preserving corporate culture, and ensuring effective communication in virtual environments.

The Role of Physical Presence in Emergency Scenarios:

  1. Emergency Preparedness and Unity:
    • One of the lessons learned from the pandemic is the importance of team unity in emergency scenarios. While remote work has proven its viability, certain situations may require a collective, on-site response. Organisations are recognising the need to strike a balance between remote flexibility and the importance of having a team physically present when urgent situations arise.
  2. Hybrid Models for Emergency Response:
    • Some companies are adopting hybrid models that combine remote flexibility with periodic in-person gatherings to enhance team cohesion. This approach ensures that teams are well-prepared to respond effectively to emergencies, leveraging the benefits of both remote and in-person collaboration.

Conclusion:

The post-COVID workplace landscape is complex, with organisations simultaneously embracing remote work, downsizing physical office spaces, and recognising the importance of a united team presence in emergency scenarios. Striking the right balance between flexibility and cohesion is key to navigating these challenges successfully. As workplace recovery initiatives evolve, companies must remain agile, adapting their strategies to the dynamic needs of the workforce and the demands of an ever-changing business environment.

Covid-19 – Home Working v Workplace Recovery

The covid-19 pandemic was/is not a ‘normal’ disaster; a normal disaster generally affects a single company whereby it is left unable to trade (normally) and amongst other things, faces loss to its competitors.   Covid-19 affected the majority of businesses and thus competitors were also closed or subject to equally disruptive service offerings. There was hence no benefit to look for alternatives – none were available.

Home working whilst popular is beginning to show its foibles.  De-centralised working in terms of technology alone is hugely problematic and requires significant and continued investment and management;  The social aspect is the subject matter of many professional scholars with numerous articles circulating; Those relating to BC focus on the cost comparison of the increased HR + IT requirement against  that of an out-sourced BC contract;  a quote taken from a recent media posting provides a view:  “Each home has its differences, each person has their differences. Combine the two and multiply by the additional tasks needed per ‘home-working-employee’ and there you have an immense management requirement which continues almost infinitum. Each house move, each home improvement, each new employee, necessitates some employer involvement.  Even in times of economic calm, the involvement is likely to cause constant grief for the employer, throw in an unforeseen event, when it is critical that differences make no difference, and the potential for business damaging mayhem is all too apparent”

Other studies have focused on well-being and in particular mental health issues brought about by isolation which is widely publicised as being on the increase.  Managing such issues in a centralised office is demanding enough but doing so on a widespread campus of decentralised home workers is fraught with complexities for which the employer is responsible and liable. Again, the problems of management become magnified when dealing with a company-wide crisis brought about by an unforeseen event.

Lockdown closed/disrupted 99% of businesses.  Everyone became frustratingly patient – but this was because they had no choice;  In a ‘normal’ crisis – where only one or a few businesses are affected – the ‘frustratingly patient’ person no longer remains ‘as patient’ – why? Because there is choice; The businesses that are closed, risk losing business to those that are open.  This is evident when seeking to buy something as simple as a sandwich; if your normal sandwich shop is closed, you’ll go elsewhere – you won’t wait.

In a ‘normal’ crisis the first few days, leading up to the first few weeks are critical.  Decentralise people with decentralised systems and there lays a good recipe for disaster. Essentially decentralising anything creates additional tasks; and no matter how much automation or planning is engaged, it is extremely unlikely the overall tasks will ever be less or even close to those of a centralised version or error free.  Keeping tasks to a minimum (and simple) in a crisis is paramount to success. Ideally the task is singular – invoke contract and carry on with business (as normal).   Centralising as much as possible is absolutely key to a smooth transition from normal-to-crisis-to-normal.

DSM’s view:  Home working is an essential BC tool – it’s one spanner of a set – however, it isn’t a spanner that fits all. Try to make it fit all and serious damage may result.

Please note: All DSM’s positions are in-line with current UK government & WHO guidelines on Social Distancing.

Top Tips For Business Continuity Management

The why and how of introducing a Business Continuity Management strategy
Business Continuity involves building resilience in your organisation by identifying its key products and services and the critical activities that underpin them, then devising strategies so that you can trade through a disruption and recover afterwards.
Most organisations recognise that they should have a Business Continuity plan in place but see it as too expensive and time consuming to address, however this doesn’t have to be the case.
The benefits of introducing continuity awareness within the company far outweigh the risks associated with just hoping bad things won’t happen (although statistically they will!). Companies are looking ever more carefully at their supply chain to identify potential weaknesses and are asking for evidence of a documented and tested strategy to prove service level agreements can be maintained in any event.
The biggest mistake is trying to do the whole process in one fell swoop which, if ever completed, is likely to be a huge document that is put on a shelf and ignored for a few years. By breaking the process down into simple manageable phases where you can tick off the “quick wins” and demonstrate progress you introduce a culture of ongoing review; it is vitally important to constantly update your recovery plans in line with business growth and operational changes.
 
Top tips for Business Continuity Management:
 

  1. Carry out regular risk assessments and take steps to eliminate, or at least minimise, potential threats to the operation of your business.
  1. Consider possible scenarios and analyse their impact on your business – forewarned is forearmed.
  1. Compile an action plan of what should be done in order to maintain Business As Usual in any event. Put formal contracts in place which will enable fast recovery of vital operations.
  1. Document key business processes and ensure no critical activities can be done only by a single individual.
  1. Review the resilience of your suppliers and their capability to meet Service Level Agreements. Consider multiple sourcing to reduce reliance on a single supplier.
  1. Protect your company information and ensure it can be accessed or rapidly restored in any event without compromising on security.
  1. Carry out regular tests to prove you can continue to function should you lose access to your premises or vital services, or in the worst case, your entire business environment.
  1. Encourage all employees to get involved with the preparation and testing of Business Continuity plans so they buy in to the importance of keeping your business alive.

To discuss your Business Continuity strategy further please contact us.