We recently spent an entire day in our offices without electricity due to an unexpected power cut by the City of Cape Town. Fortunately we had anticipated this earlier on in the year and invested in generators to keep our offices going. So as we continued working with full telephone and internet access available to us, to the raucous sound of our generator going about its business, we watched as our neighbours all downed tools and waited six hours for the power to come back on.
By taking charge of our own destiny and setting up the right infrastructure to deal with anticipated outages in all areas of our business, we are putting the correct business continuity management procedures in place.
Business continuity management is a holistic process that not only identifies potential threats and impacts to an organisation but also enables the constant and ongoing improvement of the processes and management of a business.
We liken business continuity management to the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen: a philosophy that sees improvement in productivity as a gradual and methodical process. Essentially it means ‘change for the better’. Who does not want to change their business for the better? We all do. It improves productivity, makes people happier, and improves profitability.
So business continuity management is not just anticipating and planning for disasters, it is a change of mindset to enable the organisation to improve itself. One of the spin-offs is that it anticipates disasters and plans for them, in which case they are not disasters but just business hurdles that have been overcome.
Where have most businesses come from in terms of business continuity management?
If one looks at most businesses that are not large corporates, business continuity management in small and medium businesses has been an ad hoc discipline mainly done as a knee jerk reaction to a disaster in order to mitigate that disaster happening again.
Information gathering, scenario planning, scenario testing, data repositories, offsite backups, security protection for IT, and most other aspects of business continuity management are not dealt with by the average company. I call this blissful ignorance.
What do we see for the future of business continuity management?
We see that business continuity management will play an increasing role in all businesses, as they strive to deal with tough business environments, a nation where there is a lot of instability in terms of labour, electricity and other service supply.
Business continuity management has to become part of the heart of business management.
We are building business continuity management as a layer of cloud based software enabling a company to plan and manage their strategies, to store all relevant business continuity management information and to alert the appropriate people and service providers of a situation that requires such management.
The business continuity systems we are planning sit above our practical systems of backup/protect/manage. Where backup is the backing up of corporate data to the cloud, protect is protecting the network and individual IT components from virus attack, hacking and employee fraud, and manage being network and systems management tools.
These systems will interface with third party services providers for insurance, emergency premises, vehicle hire and a myriad of other services. The key for any business is to start planning for business continuity is to start putting the necessary procedures in place to enable disasters to be mere speed humps easily overcome through adequate business continuity planning.