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How important is business continuity?

Filed under: Features — Stephanie on July 5, 2013

Business continuity should, ideally, be one of the highest priorities for any company or organisation, of whatever scale or makeup. It is especially important for public or private sector organisations that provide any kind of service – such as schools, hospitals, transportation, telecoms and broadcasting. There are a number of reasons why business continuity is such a high priority, not all of them immediately obvious.

Before going in to these reasons in more detail, it’s important to get a handle on what exactly is “business continuity”. It can be described as the formal process of ensuring that a business can function optimally, or as close to optimally as possible, at all times and in all circumstances. It is not just concerned with disaster planning, though this is a crucial part of the overall picture. Rather, a strong business continuity operation, with policies and processes being routinely followed, will be making its presence felt in a company even on a “normal” day and will be integral to a company’s structure.

Bearing this in mind, here, then are some key reasons why business continuity simply cannot be ignored.

First and foremost, business continuity defines its own importance if one tries to imagine its opposite: an absence of business continuity. If there is no plan in place for how an organisation or company will continue to operate in the event of a mishap or disaster, then indeed, at the very least, there will be a break in its operational or trading abilities. If a fire burns down a company’s factory, even with insurance in place the impact could be so great as to threaten the survival of the business. In this regard, an article by Alan Lund in ‘Corp!’ magazine makes for interesting reading. Lund wrote:

“A recent Touche Ross study reported that the survival rate for companies that encounter a disaster without a business continuity plan is less than 10 per cent. According to research by the University of Texas, only six per cent of companies suffering from a catastrophic loss survive, while 43 per cent never reopen and 51 per cent close within two years.”

Beyond the obvious needs of staying in business, there’s also a general financial case for having a business continuity plan. Investors, banks, customers and shareholders will be much more likely to take seriously, and to trust, a business with such a plan – especially if it is proven to conform with the International Standard ISO 22301:2012.

Moreover, staff confidence will be enhanced, and maintained, if employees are made aware that there are plans in place to ensure the business can carry on regardless of circumstances. People naturally will have a greater sense of job security, and will be more likely to remain loyal.

Finally, being able to demonstrate a sound, regularly updated and compliant business continuity plan will be great in the long term for public relations, both at home and abroad. Business continuity planning sends a confident signal to friends and competitors alike that this is a future-oriented business – one that intends to be around for a good while yet.

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