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The ten hottest topics in business continuity

By Teon Rosandic, VP, EMEA, xMatters.

In today’s world of economic, social and political uncertainty, companies are confronted with an ever-increasing range of risks to deal with. But there are risks we can see and then there are those we can’t: the so-called ‘black swans’ that come from nowhere; the high-profile, high-impact, unpredictable and rare events.

More than ever, organizations must have robust processes in place to minimise risk; and to protect employees and the brand. Business continuity is evolving to meet this growing necessity and the marketplace is changing, so we’ve come up with what we are seeing as the top ten hottest topics in business continuity to consider:

1. True business resiliency
This is about adaptive capacity; in other words ‘What is the capacity of your company to adapt to change after an unplanned business operations disruption?’ To improve in this area, make sure all disciplines - crisis management, incident response, business continuity, disaster recovery and pandemic planning - are integrated into one set of processes and capabilities that work collectively. Businesses will then benefit from minimal disruption in the event of an incident that affects the entire company, and can more effectively spring back from a disruption to its operations.

2. Business continuity plan location
You want to keep your crisis management and business continuity plans up in the cloud? Feel free to trust the cloud and its backup systems, but as a true business continuity planning professional, aim for three copies of the same plan. Count the cloud and its backup as one copy, use an encrypted USB drive or hard drive to hold another copy of your plans and print out a paper copy as a final version. You can also think about trusting your mobile phone to hold your plan. Use a mobile application where you can access your plan directly from your phone, regardless of whether your server is up, even if you ran out of the building without your 12 inch thick paper copy!

3. Emergency mass notification software
This area is growing to be more sophisticated and user friendly. Enriched features including geo location abilities to reach specific populations impacted by regional events are available. Advancements in communication modes now mean you can reach employees by personal or work email, fax, SMS text, mobile and work or home land line. It is also possible to now store incident management plans, procedures and actions on smartphone or tablet device so users can access the latest information and plans.

4. Delivering accurate information
Delivery at precisely the right time, to the right people is more important than ever. Bad information degrades the reputation of whoever is delivering it and the company associated with the message deliverer.

5. Workplace violence
Sadly, this is on the rise. Workplace violence doesn’t always mean murder even though 11 people are murdered daily at work on an international level. Don't ignore workplace violence. Make your employees feel safer by having practice tests, conducting training and awareness sessions so that they can learn the best way to keep safe. It’s a sensitive and difficult topic to address but you will save lives in the long run; as well as empowering your employees rather than leaving them to feel like lost targets.

6. Testing your business continuity or crisis management plans
There is a difference between validating information and stress testing. It’s one thing to say “Yes, I have a plan”. It’s another thing to say “Umm, I tested the plan and it can’t support the recent growth of our company.” Always test your plans with measurable objectives and success criteria. Always get sign outs from whoever is opting out of testing. Tell them that if they do not test, they must sign a form that indicates that they accept all risk associated with not participating in annual testing. Try where possible to carry out the test in a real setting – telling everyone involved that you are running a test at 2pm on a Monday is not a reflection of real life and allows individuals to prepare and have copies of the business continuity plan to hand: which might not be the case in a real incident.

7. Enterprise mobility
This is a key issue as the workforce is constantly changing. The mobile application market is expected to grow by at least 30 percent in the coming year. The continuing shift in the traditional workforce means fewer people in the office and more that work from home. It also means that instant access to work related applications and data must be reliably available at anytime and anywhere.

8. Spread your news by engaging with social media
If you want to spread news, social media is the fastest way to do so. Currently, Facebook has become the preferred way to share content, second only to email (for now). Use it to help you get in touch with people or to track what’s going on. It’s important to have a social media plan for incident management as you cannot stop the public talking about issues involving your organization: the key way to deal with this is to be prepared and to respond quickly.

9. An all risks approach is a best practice when planning business resiliency
Keep checking the lists. New risks are added every year! The all risks approach encourages a generalised framework for responding to a wide variety of disasters regardless of cause and developing capacities and capabilities critical to preparedness.

10. Integrated response and recovery
A public sector - private sector partnership/relationship is priceless during times of crisis and disaster. An integrated response means a well-coordinated and communicated response, with a team that trains together. Integrating response teams results in strengthened collaboration and capabilities on the efficiency and effectiveness of responses.

www.xmatters.com

•Date: 26th November 2013 • World •Type: Article • Topic: BC general

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