Taking the first step in your journey towards organisation resiliency? Having a robust business continuity management (BCM) programme will set you apart from organisations that do not have any plans in place, especially in times of crisis.
This first step may seem daunting, but through implementing some common strategies, the task ahead will be easier.
In this article, we will be discussing 7 strategies that you can adopt for your BCM Programme and how they can improve the resiliency of your business:
Strategy #1: Ensuring Good Communications
Regardless of industry or size of businesses, Communications would play a huge factor in your organisation’s resiliency, be it your daily operations or during a crisis.
Internally, the management and general employees should establish a common understanding of certain procedures and protocols in handling crisis situations. This would greatly reduce wild speculations and rumours from being thrown around and needlessly alarming the organisation’s workforce.
Externally, all employees should be clear towards certain policies with a clear understanding on which information can and cannot be shared with the public. In times of disaster or crisis, it would be easier to control information flow when relaying information to the public, especially the media.
Another point to note is the timing of information dissemination. An employee may feel outcast if he received the new updates from media reports than through official internal channels. Similarly, clients may lose confidence in the organisation if there is a long delay in or worse, no official responses or action plans announced to address the situation.
Effective communication needs to be prepared, learned and practiced.
Strategy #2: Managing Your Resources
Resources (including people) are key components of all businesses.
Technology, people, physical offices, connectivity and many other resources are critical to the operation of any business. Without these resources, many businesses would ground to a standstill and disrupting daily operations.
In crisis, resources may not be readily available. So, advanced planning is crucial to ensure the critical resources are available during disruptions. How, then, do I know how much resources I need?
To determine the minimum resource you need, know the needs of your business. Ask yourself: What are the functions that I need to recover first? How soon? Who are the customers that I need to attend to first? Is there any penalty for failing to deliver the goods? From there, start to make plans to mitigate any consequences of the disruption. Ensure that you are able to account for any type of major risks faced.
Strategy #3: Managing Your People
Employees could be affected in times of disasters. They might be unable to report for work due to injury or just simply physically unable to reach their place of work due to area closure.
In such cases, how do I ensure that business operations can continue to function and the disruption period is kept to a minimum? Should employees be told to go home and wait or are they required to continue business activities? How do I monitor these activities? What are the communication plans?
Employees may be at a lost if there are no clear directions or advice on what they need to do. All these can be pre-planned in advance during the preparation stage when a proper BCM documentation is established.
Strategy #4: Setting Business Priorities
Business priorities refer to your top concern for your business: the factors that would affect the health of your business. When you know your business priorities, you would then know what needs to be prioritised during disruptions.
For instance, if the top customers are your main concern, then naturally all the functions supporting these customers will be your top priorities in recovering during a crisis, making these your critical functions.
Strategy #5: Managing Social Media
Yes, this is part of the communication plan.
With technology advancing so rapidly, and the increasing pervasiveness of social media, we have all become highly interconnected and integrated.
In the unfortunate event of a disaster, the effects and aftermath could be felt by people and companies who are directly and/or indirectly linked. Rapid-fire spread of news (true or false) can also happen especially with today’s “citizen journalism”. In other words, the business will be subjected to social media exposure. These risks could come in the form of customers, business partners or even passers-by! If handled poorly, the business will suffer negative reputational impact.
At the same time, social media exposure can also come from within the business: employees – which is arguably easier to contain with a well-trained workforce.
Social media tools can be the make-it or break-it factor.
Strategy #6: Managing your Supply Chain
Businesses are all inter-connected. They depend on each other for flow of services or products; no business stands alone.
Take for example, the heavy floods in Thailand in 2011 caused a major disruption to the computer manufacturers. With Thailand being the world’s no. 2 hard-disk manufacturing country, this incident sent the hard-disk prices rocket high. In this case, computer manufacturers not only need to have a continuity plan in place, they also need to have supply chain resilience plan to ensure crisis and disruptions to the supply chain can be managed.
There is both internal and external dependency in your BCM program. If an entity from your supply chain is experiencing a crisis, will the consequences reach you? Will your business be able to escape unscathed? How would you determine if your business partners or your outsourced partners are ready for any disaster? How do you safeguard yourself such that the consequences can be contained and dealt with appropriately?
Strategy #7: Coaching & Counselling
Training and coaching your staff are important tasks. Failing to do so, your business may be exposed to many other risks that may otherwise be easily contained.
With a well-trained workforce, they will know what to do and freeing up much needed time for management to deal with the matter at hand. There will also be less panicking, presenting a united front to the outside world. Also, when in times of disasters, employees may experience some form of trauma. It would be good if there could be some form of crisis counselling for affected employees to maintain a high morale within the workforce. Even in just the form of an employee counselling hotline, this could still be an avenue for them to turn to.
Business continuity is a critical function that involves many different departments, personnel and internal and external parties. There is a need to consider many different factors and from different perspectives in order to say that you are ready for the unexpected. The business continuity programme should include participation from all levels of the business as well as the external parties as well in order to truly build a strong programme.
All the above strategies are usually documented in the Business Continuity Plans (BCP).
To find out more on how you can draft a comprehensive BCP, contact BCP Asia today at (60) 3 2831 9309 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Writer: Henry Ee, FBCI, CBCP, ACTA
Henry Ee is the Managing Director for BCP Asia (www.bcpasia.com). He is a certified professional with more than 25 years experience in the business resilience industry. Henry has developed business continuity and crisis management programmes for the healthcare industry, inclusive of hospitals, clinics and their corporate offices. Currently Henry holds many voluntarily positions including Vice-President of RIMAS, Chairman for BCI Asia Chapter, SEA chairman for IAEM, Member of UNISDR. He sits in the working committee for SS ISO22301.