The purpose behind business continuity planning is to minimise disruption and losses caused by issues or incidents outside the control of the organisation. Resilience is the ability to maintain operations, sometimes with temporary limitations, until full operational capability is restored.
Resilience and recovery can be described as the ability of an organisation to absorb the impact of an external force and to respond and to return to its original shape and condition. Achieving a quick and complete recovery is only possible if a comprehensive resilience and recovery plan has already been produced.
A key factor affecting resilience is the leadership’s control of the crisis. Unless there is a full commitment from the top, with regular training and rehearsals for directors, managers and employees, the management of the response is likely to be inadequate. Resilience is measured by the ability to minimise disruption, damage and loss to the organisation and the speed with which its activity levels return to normal.
In 1999, the chairman of Continuity Forum coined the phrase, “creating Continuity, building Resilience” where business continuity planning was the activity and resilience the outcome.
The City of London Corporation has produced a report entitled “Business Resilience Planning Considerations.” This document was the result of the joint effort of a number of parties representing the full spectrum of the Square Mile’s business and emergency response communities.
The main causes of events affecting resilience are listed as:
- Severe weather
- Electricity network reliability
- Telecommunications failure
- Human diseases (including pandemic flu)
- Civil disorder
- Cyber crime and IT security breaches
Consequences of events which test resilience and recovery plans are listed in the report as:
- Disruption to transport affecting:
- The ability of staff to get into work or get home
- Delivery of goods and materials
- Rail and tube/mass transit services
- Other road traffic.
(Transport disruption was highlighted in the report as the key common consequence affecting businesses as a result of nearly all the risks identified.)
- Disruption to utilities affecting:
- Ability to maintain services and a working environment
- Communication with customers.
- Financial costs including:
- Cleaning and building maintenance
- Building repairs and site recovery
- Rising insurance premiums and excess
- Legal fees
- Temporary staff replacement and staff welfare
- Emergency aid, assistance and charitable contributions.
- Disruption to the organisation’s resources including:
- Overstaffing/resourcing (staff wishing to stay and help, rather than going home and resting ready to take over the next shift)
- Understaffing/supply chain disruptions (inability of staff to get to work or unwillingness of staff to go back to the area following an incident)
- Severe exhaustion of staff who have not been able to have enough rest
- Excessive demand on syndicated disaster recovery sites (and the potential for diminished provision from suppliers)
- Competing demands for services/supplies required for business recovery.
The report contains detailed advice on a range of measures that organisations can take to improve their preparation and readiness to deal with emergency situations.
Fernlea Business Support can provide advice and support in reviewing your resilience and recovery plans and in assessing the areas of greatest potential risk to your organisation.