“It’s not a matter of if a disaster strikes, but how well you are prepared and ready to give assurance to your stakeholders that you are in control when it does.”
Business disruptions are occurring at a pace never seen before. Organisations of all sizes are experiencing disruption from a variety of forces – disruptions are often highly significant, yet unforeseen
and ill prepared for. This has recently been emphasised by COVID-19, the recent looting that cost organisations in excess of R20 billion in damage and affected more than 40 000 business in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal as well as Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine that has a worldwide impact. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to business disruption.
Other events that are prevalent include but are not limited to Cyber incidents, business interruption and critical infrastructure blackouts. This is according to the Allianz Risk Barometer 20221. In a nutshell, risk of business interruption can be physical, virtual, reputational, and always financial and this is where Business Continuity Management (BCM) can come into effect.
What is Business Continuity Management (BCM)
Business Continuity Management (BCM) is a proactive, forward-thinking approach which entails organisations having plans and procedures in place to deal with difficult situations, so an organisation can continue to function with as little disruption as possible.
Objective of BCM
As we can see from Figure 1, one of the main objectives of a Business Continuity Management
(BCM) programme is to limit the potential impact an organisation may be exposed to as well as to reduce the time taken to recover from unforeseen incidents / disasters. The forward- thinking approach will assist and enable organisations to respond and react to unforeseen incidents in a more effective and efficient manner.
In addition to reducing the impact an organisation may be faced with, BCM may assist with refining business processes and enhance their operational procedures to overcome any potential shortcomings and understand how vulnerable and prepared their organisation is to business disruption.
Consequences of Business Disruption According to the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) horizon scan report, over the past 12 months, the main impacts of business disruption resulted in the following:
To put things into context, an indicator of the financial impact associated to a negative impact
on staff morale / mental health, The World Health Organization2 reports that the global economy loses $1 trillion (around R15 trillion) every year in decreased productivity due to mental health issues.
So how do we implement BCM?
At a high-level, when designing and implementing a BCM programme, an organisation will need to analyse its operations. Understanding key processes, activities and outputs is essential to understand the exposure your organisation may be faced with. As per best practice, key components include:
• Policy and Programme Management
(Governance) – A top management function whereby roles and responsibilities are defined. One
of the critical drivers for sound BCM and resilience are that it should be taken up multi-disciplinary,
and it should be positioned strategically within an organisation. Setting the tone at the top, whilst active top management involvement allows for better integration and effectiveness of a BCM programme.
• Business Impact analysis and Risk Assessment –
Identification and classification of critical processes, activities, and outputs to be recovered. The stage whereby business disruption impact is qualified and quantified.
• BCM Strategy – Recovery solutions that have been assessed based on time taken to implement, cost and feasibility that an organisation will action in the event of a business disruption.
• Business continuity plan implementation – The phase whereby business continuity plans (BCPs) are developed. These plans will highlight the procedures to be followed during a major, unanticipated, and disruptive event.
Testing and exercising – Validating contents of
business continuity plans. A critical component to ensure that the effectiveness of business continuity plans have been tested and that these plans are fit for purpose and will add value in times of crisis.
• Training and awareness – From strategic to operational level, training and awareness of an originations BCM programme should be performed. Understanding of expectations should be clearly articulated to the intended audience.
In summary, a business continuity programme allows an organisation to take a proactive approach in identifying known and unknownvariables. Thesuccessfulapplication of business continuity increases an organisation’s resilience which, in turn, contributes to higher corporate performance. Resilience is widely defined as the ability of an organisation to absorb, respond to, and recover from disruptions. Business continuity uniquely provides the framework to understand how value is created and maintained within an organisation and establishes a direct relationshiptodependenciesorvulnerabilities inherent in the delivery of that value.
World Health Organization [undated]. Mental health in the workplace. WHO [online]. Available at: https://www.who.int/teams/ mental-health-and-substance-use/promotion- prevention/mental-health-in-the-workplace (accessed 15 March 2022)
by GRIPP Advisory’s Dean Naidu, Manager: Risk and Business Continuity Management. Dean holds Certifications in Business Continuity, B. Commerce, Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management