What is business continuity?

Business continuity is a series of steps that organisations take before an interruption has occurred, to reduce the impact of an incident, regardless of its cause.

Is business continuity the same as disaster recovery?

Like most professions, business continuity management has its own vocabulary which can be confusing to the uninitiated (see our jargon buster for more help). To make matters worse there is not always universal agreement as to which definition is right and some of these terms are hotly debated within the business continuity community. However most business continuity professionals agree that disaster recovery relates to the restoration and resumption of technology, whilst business continuity, as the name suggests, is wider and also includes people, buildings, information and equipment.

Who should have responsibility for business continuity within an organisation?

There is no single answer to this and it will depend upon the nature (scale, composition and interdependencies)  of an organisation. In most organisations IT will be a critical component to the maintenance and resumption of business services during a disruption (see disaster recovery above) which will make it very difficult for them to take responsibility for everything else. So unless your senior management can be assured that IT can implement a technology-neutral approach to business continuity, it may be advantageous that responsibility for business continuity sits outside of IT.

Advent IM can recommend options for the location of business continuity responsibilities within your organisation.

We already have a business continuity plan. Do we need to do anything else?

It depends. Business continuity plans are one of those things that can quickly become outdated and obsolete.  If the plan reflects the needs of the business, is regularly tested and everyone knows what they need to do in the event of an incident, then well done – there is not much else to do. Otherwise you probably need to do a bit more to make your plan a living document.

Advent IM can recommend ways of improving, embedding and testing you business continuity plans.

We are a category 1 or 2 responder under the Civil Contingencies Act. Do we have to do anything else?

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (CCA04) makes it a legal requirement for some public authorities (or those carrying out the role of a public authority) to maintain plans for the purpose of assuring, so far as it is reasonably practicable, that if an emergency occurs they are able to continue to perform their functions.  As above, if your planning reflects the needs of the business, is regularly tested and everyone knows what they need to do in the event of an incident, then you should give yourself a pat on the back. If not, then you probably need to do more. Either way you should consider getting an independent and professional review of your business continuity arrangements.

We are a category 1 or 2 responder under the Civil Contingencies Act. Do we have to do anything else?

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (CCA04) makes it a legal requirement for some public authorities (or those carrying out the role of a public authority) to maintain plans for the purpose of assuring, so far as it is reasonably practicable, that if an emergency occurs they are able to continue to perform their functions.  As above, if your planning reflects the needs of the business, is regularly tested and everyone knows what they need to do in the event of an incident, then you should give yourself a pat on the back. If not, then you probably need to do more. Either way you should consider getting an independent and professional review of your business continuity arrangements.

What is ISO22301

ISO22301/ISO22399 is the International Standard for business continuity management since the British Standard, BS25999 changed in 2012. The standard is based on underlying principles and is not prescriptive – meaning it is scalable to all organisations, regardless of their size or nature and most approaches to business continuity share common ground with ISO22301 .  Some organisations choose to align themselves to the standard whilst others choose to become fully accredited. Depending on the organisation, there are benefits and disadvantages to both and we can advise which is best for you and your organisations.  There is no statutory requirement for ISO22301 compliance or accreditation but some organisations (eg. the finance sector and public authorities) mandate the requirement for business continuity planning.

Business continuity sounds expensive and time consuming. Are there any benefits?

Firstly,  it does not have to be expensive. A lot of good business continuity work focuses on making sure everyone knows what is in place and what they have to do in the event of an incident and does not necessarily involve spending lots of money. Also, business continuity does not have to be time consuming. In all but the largest organisations, business continuity management is often part of someone’s existing job role rather than a dedicated function, although a good business continuity management system will  have inputs from across the organisation, rather than just being the product of one or two individuals. The benefit of a well-conceived and properly delivered system of business continuity management can include:

    • Cost reduction: Business continuity management can help identify opportunities for: improved resource allocation, risky interdependencies, inefficient business processes, lower insurance premiums and significantly reduce cost in the event of an incident occurring.
    • Increased performance: Proven resilience can be a prerequisite to winning business and can provide opportunities for improving collaborative working and hardening systems and processes.
    • Reputation:  Improved business continuity management can assure clients, stakeholders, supply chain partners and employees that you are a professional organisation who behaves professionally.

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