A well-developed Business Continuity Plan can minimize business disruptions, while safeguarding key business interests, relationships, and assets. Unfortunately, some companies do not place a high value on Business Continuity Planning and fail to institute sustainability efforts.
Below are ten common obstacles in Business Continuity Planning (BCP), and possible countermeasures to offset these hurdles.
1 Lack of Management Support:
It is challenging to perform a cost-benefit analysis for business continuity. Managers and corporate executives may not act based on “what if” scenarios, unless regulations require implementation. Managerial decisions are generally based on concrete financials that benefit departments, stockholders, and the bottom line. There is a high degree of beneficial uncertainty associated with implementing BCP measures. Benefits resulting from BCP and mitigation efforts are dynamic in nature, and are not limited to a single structure, department, or operation.
Providing managers and corporate decision-makers a detailed vulnerability and hazard analyses with concrete financial statistics of their effects may garner some support. Additionally, professional reports and documentation that highlight increasing threats and vulnerabilities, such as the 2013 Global Risks Report by The World Economic Forum, makes a compelling case that may provoke and inspire leaders to implement continuity efforts.
2. Budget Restraints:
Because companies are in the business of making a profit, planning and mitigation measures are often compromised for other priorities. It may be helpful to estimate the cost of implementation for each critical process in relation to the cost of a critical process breakdown. This exercise may highlight the need for a designated budget.
It may also be necessary to prioritize BCP implementation by each critical process with a step-by-step timeline for completion. Companies can identify and rank the most critical business processes, and implement BCP and mitigation measures based on those priorities. While most processes are intertwined, taking small steps to ensure process continuity is a step toward overall business continuity.
3. Maintaining a Culture of Preparedness:
Employees who are trained in business continuity recovery procedures will be prepared in the event of an operational failure. Managers who emphasize and embrace safety and continuity measures will create a work environment that reflects those principals, and maintain an overall culture of preparedness.
4. Lack of Training and Business Continuity Awareness:
Managers and employees frequently recognize the limits of their business continuity expertise after identifying company and process vulnerabilities. Planning and training should address overall business continuity efforts and detailed standard operating procedures for BCP activation. Training should convey procedural flexibility based on continuing assessment of disaster demands and provide options for each scenario. If implementing continuity efforts are beyond the scope of managers, companies should consider hiring consultants who specialize in business continuity planning.
5. Employee Turnover:
A review of specific business continuity plan roles and responsibilities should be part of any new hire training practices. This will ensure continuity of knowledge, standard operating procedures, and emergency and business continuity procedures. Companies can also benefit from employee turnover. New employee may have unique business continuity experiences or knowledge that can be used to strengthen the plan.
6. Achieving a Constant State of Readiness:
Business continuity processes can be implemented as part of standard operating procedures (SOP). By instituting best practices, such as backup procedures, mobile or flexible working environments, and alternate supply chains, a constant level of continuity can be sustainable if a facility, personnel, or process is inaccessible.
7. Coordination with External Responder/Suppliers(s):
The adoption of NIMS has allowed for adoption of consistent response language and processes. However, exercised coordination and two-way communication are key factors in successful continuity efforts. One of the greatest challenges in disaster preparedness is the continual effort of contact verification. Dedicated man-hours or an automated cycle of contact verification should be in place as part of the maintenance phase of planning. A contact verification tool that integrates with web-based, database-driven planning systems can save time-consuming maintenance efforts and eliminate a potential lapse in continuity efforts. Every effort should be made to regularly confirm contact information and available supplies with partnering entities. Delays in contacting these partners and confirming their involvement may lead to additional business disruptions.
8. Identifying Critical Processes:
The ability to identify and quantify which critical business processes that, when not functional, may damage a company’s reputation or ability to operate, is a critical stage in the business continuity planning process. Overall resilience capabilities should be prioritized to mitigate any interruption. Understanding response procedures and the intricacies of a “Plan B” can make the difference between corporate survival or failure. Crisis and disaster situations usually result in the loss or temporary disruption of one or more of the following necessary key business resources:
- IT Applications/Systems
- Supply Chain
9. Unidentified Threats and Vulnerabilities:
Threats and vulnerabilities must be identified in order for potential impacts to be analyzed and countermeasures implemented. A hazard analysis indicates the likeliness that each specific threat could occur, considering existing capabilities, mitigation measures, and history. Threats and vulnerabilities can stem from both external and internal actions. Companies should analyze potential threats from typical weather patterns, geographical influences, security efforts, inherent operational hazards, as well as facility design and potential maintenance issues.
10. Securing Suppliers for Business Continuity:
Identify potential alternative supply arrangements that can directly minimize the impact of the identified threats. Disruptions in supply may be outside a company’s domain, yet can severely impact the ability to provide “business as usual”. Factors to consider in the identification of critical suppliers are complex and extend well beyond first glance analyses; however, they may include those that provide:
- Certain business specific products
- Sole source services or products
- Electrical power
- Waste Management
- Facility or facilities
Download this free 9-Step sample Emergency Response Procedures Flow Chart.