Business continuity can be defined as 'the processes, procedures, decisions and activities to ensure that an organisation can continue to function through an operational interruption'.
In other words it is about making proactive and reactive plans to help your organisation avoid crises and disasters and to be able to quickly return to 'business as usual' should they occur.
Business continuity involves two distinct areas:
Business continuity planning - where a plan is developed that, when implemented, will help to
prevent operational interruptions, crises and disasters happening
and will help the organisation quickly return to a state of 'business
as usual' should any of these events occur. Once it has been prepared
the business continuity plan must be tested and exercised to ensure
that it will perform as anticipated.
Business continuity management - this is:
• The ongoing management of the business continuity plan to ensure
that it is always current and available and
• The ongoing management of operational resilience and process availability
within an organisation, with the aim of ensuring that the organisation
experiences the minimum possible day-to-day disruption.
Business continuity achieves various things for organisations, with the degree of success in each area dependent on the amount of effort, skill, resource and commitment provided by the organisation for business continuity activities. There will be a number of outcomes in every business continuity program which are specific to the organisation in question, but the following are outcomes which should be achieved by every organisation which takes business continuity seriously:
• A deeper and clearer understanding of the organisation
The processes involved in developing the initial business continuity plan and then in maintaining and managing the BCP result in a clear overview of the overall organisation; its structures, dependencies, suppliers and stakeholders. This information is not only essential for business continuity management it can also help planning and strategy in other non-related areas of organisational development and management.
• Proactive measures
Proactive measures are designed for the prevention of interruptions to organisational activities .
The essence of good business continuity management is the identification and implementation of measures which can be put in place to proactively prevent operational interruptions taking place, and to prevent crises and disasters occurring. Business continuity management, at its highest level, is about keeping organisations operating at their maximum capability.
• Reactive measures
Reactive measures are designed for recovery from interruptions to organisational activities.
Business continuity management programs includes plans for the reactive measures that will be taken should the proactive measures that are in place fail, become overwhelmed, or are bypassed by some unforeseen and unexpected crisis. Reactive measures enable the organisation to return to an acceptable level of operations within a desired timescale following an interruption, disaster or crisis.
• Culture change
Business continuity management programs involve an exploration of organisational culture. Effective programs will utilise change management techniques to ensure that the organisation encourages a culture where all employees are sufficiently aware of everyday risks and their individual responsibility to report, manage and mitigate risks.