7 Top Tips for Successful Business Continuity Planning

BCI European award finalist Russell Williams, provides some top tips to keep your business continuity planning on track, or to get you started in creating one!

Size isn’t everything

It might be tempting to pack loads of detail into your business continuity plan (BCP), ending up with something 100 pages long that looks impressive and makes a loud thud on the table when you trot it out for your auditor, but nobody will ever pick it up and use it. Conversely, the back of a fag packet won’t cut it, however small your business or however straightforward your strategy might be. Your plan needs to be concise, but have enough detail to be useful.

You can’t plan for everything

So don’t try. There might be a thousand incidents to plan for, but it will be number 1001 that trips you up. There will ALWAYS be a certain amount of reaction and adaptation, as a famous boxer once said, everyone has a game plan until they get punched in the mouth. Put in place a good framework for managing disruption and then have some playbooks to cover common impacts rather than for every potential cause. If you were to cover loss of building, technology, staff and supplier, you would be well on your way to having a set of core strategies that could be adapted to cover most eventualities.

Your Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is important

BUT… don’t over complicate it. Why create a massive burden for both yourself and your network by capturing loads of data if you are never going to use it? Capture what you need to satisfy your desired outcomes and no more. And whilst I’m on the subject, don’t start with your BIA, people will immediately switch off as even the most focussed BIA is time consuming and boring. Maybe make people’s first interaction with you something more interesting, a simulation or a group exercise that gets them engaged and thinking, dare I say it, something fun (it’s all relative of course!).

Culture is key

You must get the right level of engagement and become part of the culture and fabric of the organisation. You need to keep the senior management engaged as not only do they sign the cheques, they will more than likely be the ones in the firing line if something goes wrong. They need to feel confident that they are prepared and the business is resilient. You also need to keep the general population engaged, but it will be a different pitch to them, one size does not fit all. Whoever you are dealing with you need to make it relevant, interesting and meaningful to them so that you are seen as a positive contributor rather than a box that must be ticked.

Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse again for good measure

You really need to know that your plans work, that everyone understands them and the part they play and you always need to be looking to improve them. Rehearsals are not only a great way to create engagement, but they drive continuous improvement and raise confidence so that people naturally slip into their roles when something really happens, knowing that they have it covered.

Business Continuity is not a tick box exercise

Your clients might ask for something, or your regulator might stipulate a requirement, but ultimately your business continuity or resilience programme needs to safeguard your business first and foremost. Do not just throw something together or adapt something you found on the internet to tick that box, it won’t work.

We all have laptops, I’ll just send everyone home – so I don’t need a BCP

This might be true, but as many organisations found out during the Covid-19 Pandemic, there are so many unknowns if this is not your normal operating model. If it were true, why are you paying for an office? Organisations must recognise that there are some roles that cannot or should not be completed from home, some systems or data might not be available, that productivity might fall as a result of lack of collaboration, and that the moral, physical and mental wellbeing of staff may take a hit if this becomes the norm. Our workforces are all becoming more flexible but home working is not always the silver bullet.

 

About Russell Williams

Russell Williams is a finalist at the BCI European Awards 2020, in the category of “Continuity and Resilience Professional, Private Sector”, recognising his use of creative and original approaches in improving overall resilience, continual improvement and strategic thinking. This shortlisting acknowledges Russell’s contribution to the growth of the discipline.

Already a previous business continuity award-winner, Russell has been involved Business Continuity and Resilience 20 years. At Daisy, Russell works at a senior level in multiple market sectors including Financial Services, Technology, Retail and Public sector. His role at its most basic, could be described as designing and leading the implementation of programmes and software to make businesses resilient.