Having a business continuity plan alongside plans for emergency response, crisis management, crisis communications, and disaster recovery is mandatory for all organizations, regardless of their profile, industry, structure, or size. Accounting for the day-to-day priorities of a business means having a plan in place in case of a downtime or disruption of activity. Therefore, all risk managements strategies should come with a business continuity plan, which needs to be executed by professional and experienced teams. Without a business continuity plan, the aftermath of a crisis can escalate to various degrees of disaster, such as losing money, losing brand loyalty, or even bankruptcy.
How to Achieve Business Continuity
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of small businesses never recover from a disaster. Having a business continuity plan in place will give you the competitive edge you need to keep your business afloat in case of a disaster. Yet business continuity targets a wide range of disruptions in activity, which is why it needs to be perfectly tailored for the needs, activities, and goals of your organization. The first step every company concerned with business continuity needs to take is to identify and analyze all functions within the organization, and rank them based on importance. Performing this business impact analysis on all functions – old and new – will help you come up with a business continuity strategy that is not only tailored to the needs of your business, but that will also be able to withstand any crisis situation which might arise. This is an ongoing process and requires full engagement which is why hiring a business continuity professional or continuously training the ones you already have working for your organization is of utmost importance. But before we get to the qualities of a great business continuity professional, let’s go over other steps essential in achieving business continuity:
- Constantly reviewing the business impact analysis
- Having complete and up-to-date documentation in place for all new employees
- Communicating effectively within the organization, especially in times of crisis
- Assigning responsibilities as per your already-drafted business continuity plan
- Making full use of information technology environments to optimize all functions in your organization
The Qualities of a Great Business Continuity Professional
When we think about a discontinuance in the activity of an organization, most of us think of disruptions based on severe factors, such as natural disasters or any other calamities that might prevent a company from doing its business. But the truth is that most common situations involve IT infrastructures, and a downtime of more than 8 hours. Although it sounds like a minor problem, it could cost a company a lot of money and efforts to recover from it, if not dealt with properly. This is where business continuity professionals and cyber security strategies come in. In today’s perpetually changing corporate environment, a business continuity professional has varied responsibilities, which are critical to the overall activity of the organization. Developing, implementing and overseeing a good business continuity plan requires the thoughtfulness, professionalism and attention of a designated team. Further, we will discuss the qualities to look after when putting together your business continuity professionals team.
Having a Process-Oriented Mindset
One of the top qualities of a great business continuity professional is to be able to think in terms of processes. This means mastering the dissection of complex elements and functions of the organization, defining the main inputs/outputs, and implementing solutions for response and recovery in case of a downtime or a system network crisis of any nature. A business continuity professional need to make sure that all strategies will address each and every one of these issues, and also has to be able to integrate a process-oriented thinking into the business continuity team’s plan and means of implementation.
Having Analytical Abilities
When hiring a business continuity professional, a lot of organizations make the mistake to think that having a vision towards ‘the big picture’ is enough to assure the success of a business continuity plan. In fact, seeing the big picture is not enough to understand how every aspect of an organization is put in motion, which is why a great quality to look for in a business continuity professional is to both see the big picture, and be able to reverse engineer it into puzzle pieces. Having an analytical understanding of the inner-works of an organization is the only way to make sure that all details, no matter how minor they might seem in times of comfort, are addressed.
Having the Ability of Tailoring Communications to Specific Audiences
Communicating properly via multi-channel environments is of utmost importance for all business continuity professionals. What sets great professionals aside from average ones is the ability of tailoring those communications to specific audiences. This means developing documents and reports for all corporate structures, teams, or departments, from leadership to back office. Knowing how to use internal communications tools to customize the messages referring to business continuity and how to broadcast said messages to specific audiences will make the difference between handling a downtime or a crisis with effectiveness, or creating a delay in responsiveness due to communication errors.
Having the Ability to Interact with a Wide Range of Technologies
Business continuity strategies need to be developed and implemented with a wide range of factors in mind. One of those factors is the importance of technology and the need to utilize as many means as possible to ensure the continuity of an organization’s activities. Therefore, being able to interact with a wide range of technologies and staying on top of industry developments is one of the most appreciated qualities of a great business continuity professional. There is no industry or sector that won’t benefit from the use of modern technologies, and no business can survive a major downtime or crisis situation without using technology to aid the business continuity plan.
Other qualities of a great business continuity professional:
- Being organized
- Being able to lead the business continuity team and facilitate its access to whatever its strategy requires
- Performing cost analyses
- Keeping proven business continuity plans in mind when developing or updating a strategy
- Knowing all management system concepts and constantly improving that knowledge based on industry developments
- Having the ability to always tackle specific issues that might not be foreseen by the business continuity plan and come up with distinctive solutions for them
Regardless of specific qualities and skill sets, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the responsibilities of a business continuity professional are always evolving, therefore a great business continuity professional will need to have a diverse and continuously improving skill set.