Business continuity planning (BCP) is a critical process that ensures an organization can continue its essential functions and services during and after a disruptive event, such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, or other emergencies. Business continuity plans rest solely with process owners.
The BCP outlines what measures should be taken if any type of disruption occurs to current business processes and how the team can continue operations uninterrupted. Therefore, knowing who is responsible for creating and maintaining a business continuity plan is important.
It also involves identifying every risk affecting a company’s operation, making it a vital element within an organizational risk management plan. There are risks to the environment, including natural fires, floods, or weather-related catastrophes.
Threats and disruptions lead to lower revenue and higher cost and result in lower profits. Businesses are not only dependent upon insurers for their insurance because they are unaware they will pay all costs, and customers move into a competitor. Typically, the project and recovery plan is drafted in advance with key parties’ involvement in the plan.
A successful BCP requires a coordinated effort from various stakeholders within the organization. This blog post will explore the important processes, key roles, and responsibilities of those involved in business continuity planning to help your organization develop a comprehensive and effective plan.
Top management, which includes the board of directors, CEO, and other C-suite executives, plays a crucial role in business continuity planning.
The responsibility of creating and maintaining a business continuity plan falls primarily on the shoulders of the C-Suite, which typically includes the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), and other executives.
This group of individuals is tasked with implementing strategies that protect their organization during times of crisis. They are ultimately held accountable for any disruptions or damages suffered by their company. As such, they must be actively involved in creating, testing, updating, and communicating their BCPs to all other stakeholders involved.
Their responsibilities include:
- Setting the overall direction and priorities for business continuity planning.
- Allocating resources, such as budget and personnel, to support BCP initiatives.
- Demonstrating commitment to BCP by actively participating in the planning process and championing its importance throughout the organization.
- Ensuring that the BCP aligns with the organization’s strategic objectives and risk appetite.
Business Continuity Program/Manager
The program manager oversees the business continuity program operations and reports daily operations. The plan sets programmatic expectations and guides management and the business continuity teams in planning to develop the continuity program for their business units and business continuity plans.
The business continuity manager and its business continuity team are responsible for overseeing the development, implementation, and maintenance of the organization’s BCP. Key responsibilities include:
- Coordinating the efforts of various departments and stakeholders to create cohesive and effective BCP and disaster recovery plans.
- Developing and maintaining the BCP documentation, including policies, procedures, and recovery plans.
- Identifying and assessing potential risks and vulnerabilities that could impact the organization’s ability to continue its operations.
- Establishing and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders, such as suppliers, customers, and emergency responders.
- Organizing and facilitating regular BCP training and exercises to ensure the organization’s preparedness and identify improvement areas.
Department Heads and Business Unit Managers
Department heads and business unit managers play a vital role in developing and implementing BCPs specific to their areas of responsibility. Their tasks include:
- Identifying critical business functions and processes within their department or unit.
- Assessing the potential risks and impacts associated with the disruption of these functions and processes.
- Developing and implementing strategies to mitigate these risks and minimize the impacts.
- Ensuring that employees within their department or unit are trained and aware of the BCP procedures.
- Communicating and collaborating with the business continuity coordinator/manager to ensure a cohesive approach across the organization.
Business Continuity Committee
The BCC supervises the implementation of the arrangements in the consolidated BCP and the activation.
Crisis Management Team
The crisis management teams (CMT) are responsible for managing real crisis-causing activities of the BCP in order to transfer the activity to the Business Continuity Center. This role includes:
Audit or Risk Committee
According to a committee charter, specific board oversight is often attributed to the board risk- and audit committees. Occasionally other committees are involved, like operations and governance boards.
All employees have a role to play in ensuring the success of the organization’s BCP in risk assessments. Their responsibilities include:
- Being familiar with the BCP procedures relevant to their roles and responsibilities.
- Participating in BCP training and exercises as required.
- Communicating any concerns or suggestions for improvement to their supervisors or the business continuity coordinator/manager.
- Remaining flexible and adaptable during a disruptive event to help the organization continue its operations.
The Role of IT Leaders
In addition to the C-Suite, IT leaders also play an important role in developing BCPs. They should be consulted when creating a BCP because they understand technology better than anyone else in the organization.
They can provide business leaders with valuable insight into how technology can be used to ensure business continuity during times of disruption or crisis. In addition, IT leaders can also make sure that all systems are up-to-date with the latest security protocols so that data remains safe and secure even when disaster strikes.
The Role of Human Resources
Human resources personnel are another important group to involve when developing a BCP, as they understand how employees should respond during a crisis or emergency situation. They can provide guidance on how employees should react and what procedures should be followed in order to ensure everyone’s safety and security during times of disruption or crisis.
Human resources personnel also play an important role in preparing employees for any potential disruptions by providing training sessions on how best to respond during these situations.
In most critical areas, the recovery team consists mainly of dedicated recovery team managers with recovery team leaders in charge. The recovery team should be capable of performing and monitoring all the essential tasks of a department at the same time.
The Recovery Team leaders are obligated to ensure that each member of the Recovery Team and his substitutes participate in the assessments and evaluations of the system and business process conducted by the Disaster Recovery Centre (DRC).
Defining a Business Continuity Plan
Business continuity plans (BCP) are systems that prevent and recover potential risks for a company. This plan guarantees a vehicle’s safe operation and rapid function in an emergency.
It also outlines the steps a company should take in the event of an unexpected disruption, such as a natural disaster, cyber-attack, or pandemic.
These plans aim to minimize potential damage and ensure critical operations can continue despite disruption. BCPs typically include detailed steps on how to respond in an emergency, how to get critical functions back up and running as quickly as possible, and how to prevent future interruptions.
Who should be included in your business continuity planning?
Business continuity plans are essential to protect an organization against almost all unforeseen disaster events. Many companies do not take into account the IT elements of their own business processes, such as disaster recovery and backup.
It is imperative for businesses to establish a detailed process for handling unexpected incidents such as data theft or computer hardware failures and outages. The key to the success of the business is fostering a culture of accountability and resilience in the workplace.
Business Continuity Impact Analysis
The BCP also requires a business continuity business impact analysis. Examines how disruption occurs in business operations. This data will be analyzed and used to make decisions regarding recovery goals.
FEMA provides business continuity analysis worksheets which are useful for business continuity analyses. A business function manager must complete the worksheet with knowledge of the business. Completed analysis can assist companies in identifying process impacts on business, financial, and operating functions.
Business Continuity Management
The business continuity manager oversees the company’s continuity plan and makes the required updates to that plan. This kind of leadership assesses the potential threats to an organization and determines their impacts.
Based on such information, management can adjust a continuity plan to address potential risks. A business continuity plan involves disaster recovery. Integrated into business continuity plans, disaster recovery is focused primarily on product and supply chain issues.
Benefits of a Business Continuity Plan
Almost every business is susceptible to catastrophes ranging in size from minor to severe. Business continuity plans are usually designed to assist companies in maintaining operations after major disasters like fire or explosion occur.
BPCPs differ from an IT Disaster Relief Plan or disaster recovery plan that deals with recovering an IT system after an event occurs. Consider finance businesses that work in big cities.
Alternatively, the company could implement BCPs by taking steps such as syncing the PC files of its clients offline. If anything happened to the corporate headquarters, its satellite headquarters would still be given valuable information.
Businesses can face various disasters ranging from minor to devastating and BusinessContinuity Plans are important components of all businesses. BCPs are generally intended for companies that are threatened or disrupted.
The results may lead primarily to decreased sales revenue or higher costs leading to lower profits. In short, business owners cannot just rely on the cover alone since they don’t have to pay the cost of the customer moving into the competition.
Business continuity planning is a shared responsibility that requires stakeholders’ active participation and commitment across the organization. Through understanding and fulfilling their respective roles in the BCP process, top management, business and continuity team coordinators/managers, department heads, and employees can work together to create a resilient organization that can withstand and recover from disruptive events.
Creating a business continuity plan is an important step toward protecting your organization’s valuable assets from disruptions or disasters that may occur unexpectedly at any time.
It is, therefore, essential that all stakeholders work together to develop a comprehensive plan so that everyone knows exactly what steps must be taken if business operations ever come under threat or attack from external sources such as cyber threats or natural disasters like floods, or fires.
Chris Ekai is a Risk Management expert with over 10 years of experience in the field. He has a Master’s(MSc) degree in Risk Management from University of Portsmouth and is a CPA and Finance professional. He currently works as a Content Manager at Risk Publishing, writing about Enterprise Risk Management, Business Continuity Management and Project Management.