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crisis management, risk management or
disaster recovery. Rather, it’s something
that every single person within an
organisation needs to embrace.
During the last couple of years, the
BCI has noticed that many business
continuity managers have undergone a
rebrand and become ‘resilience
professionals’. The word ‘resilience’, it
seems, is better understood by company
employees. Our members have reported
engagement with the wider staff body is
easier using terminology such as this.
Indeed, some companies have
introduced the aforementioned role of
Chief Resilience Officer to the Board.
Although still a rarity, this is becoming
an increasingly common title.
Other organisations have shown
ingenuity in terms of how they’ve
managed to engage staff in training and
exercise programmes and also illustrate
how those employees have an important
part to play in business resilience. Some
of the methods BCI members have used
to engender this are well worth noting.
For example, ensure that each
department has a ‘business continuity
champion’ or ‘resilience champion’
within who can provide relevant
business continuity/resilience material,
training and messages for staff in their
teams. Each ‘champion’ performs this
role outside of their day job and reports
into either the central business
continuity or resilience-focused team.
Work closely with the Board/senior
executive team to ensure that messaging
related to resilience comes from the top
down and highlights its importance.
Some management teams have
mandated that staff take part in a certain
number of business continuity-focused
exercise programmes each year.
Also, look to orchestrate a targeted
campaign showcasing the importance of
resilience to all staff. Many organisations
use the BCI’s Business Continuity
Awareness Week to display posters, run
short seminars and highlight Case
Studies on the importance of having a
good business continuity programme.
Reactive and agile
As mentioned previously, many business
continuity professionals found their
pandemic plans ignored at the start of
the COVID-19 outbreak. Those plans
were frequently built around previous
pandemics or epidemics such as MERS-CoV,
Bird Flu or H1N1. Others were too
lengthy and, when trying to elicit a fast
response, proved to be ineffective. BCI
research shows that, for those
organisations with a pandemic plan,
only 65% of them were indeed effective.
Many business continuity
professionals now produce ‘lite’ plans
which can be adapted to include the
intricacies of a particular incident.
There’s also a discernible move towards
planning for the symptoms of a crisis
(all staff having to work from home with
little or no warning, for instance) rather
than the cause.
This is something advocated in the
BCI’s Good Practice Guidelines, in fact.
Those guidelines state: “Business
continuity plans are not intended to
cover every eventuality as all incidents
are different. The plans need to be
flexible enough to be adapted to the
specific incident that has occurred and
the opportunities it may have created.
However, in some circumstances,
incident-specific plans are appropriate to
address a significant threat or risk: a
pandemic plan or a product recall plan,
One business continuity manager
operating in Belgium’s public sector has
commented: “Scenario planning is
dangerous. Having too many scenarios
is impossible to maintain. We have the
pillars and we have a crisis management
plan in place. We have a close
relationship with the Government. We
will have a new section on home
working. We will have a section on what
has been learned of late. That’s all we
need from our perspective.”
Often, business continuity
professionals will be asked to plan for
the consequences rather than the event
itself. Some have noticed that a lot of the
plans in an organisation duplicate
themselves, while hazard-specific
checklists could be more applicable.
Such an approach requires a certain
degree of agility and adaptability to be
factored into the planning process, while
always ensuring that plans are still built
into a tried-and-tested framework.
The key points made here highlight
some of the major adaptions that the
business continuity and resilience
industry has witnessed during and post-pandemic.
What we can conclude is that
the majority of these changes are for the
good, with more collaboration, agility
and flexibility, an increased appreciation
of the importance of business continuity
and resilience and a sea change in the
perspectives of Boards and senior
executive teams all to the fore.
The real challenge now is to maintain
that momentum. Much of this task will
fall on the shoulders of the business
continuity function. As the CEO of
Accenture observed in September last
year: “We cannot waste a good crisis.” •
David Thorp is Executive Director of
The Business Continuity Institute
Work closely with the Board/senior
executive team to ensure that
messaging related to resilience
comes from the top down and
highlights its importance