Beyond the first 48 hours: Can your business continuity plan go the distance?

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Catastrophic events are occurring more regularly and having devastating consequences across companies' operations. As companies begin to realize the new normal, which consists of longer lasting business disruptions, events are compelling them to evaluate their current crisis management programs to assess implementing a comprehensive business continuity program.

Plans that detail a business's initial emergency response provide a roadmap for keeping operations running through a crisis and ready a business for the return to full operational effectiveness in the weeks that follow a disruption. These forward-thinking solutions are critical components to effective business continuity programs.

A good business continuity plan takes a holistic view of the enterprise, identifying the critical aspects of the business; the moving parts that contribute to their functioning (people, systems, data, networks, suppliers, facilities): the full range of stakeholders affecting and affected by that functioning (personnel, customers, regulators, etc.); and the internal and external potentialities that could affect a return to operational strength (transportation, power, and communications infrastructure, human behavior, etc.). Effective planning:

  • Establishes a program management and governance structure aligning your crisis and BCM objectives and defining authorities, roles, and responsibilities (including decision-making and communication structures).
  • Identifies and prioritizes critical functions, based on an impact analysis.
  • Sets recovery time objectives for the restart of the organization’s various systems, based on overall organizational needs and an evaluation of how long critical functions can remain offline.
  • Establishes workarounds to return critical functions to operation when deprived of their usual support structures.
  • Defines the parameters of the company’s duty of care during a crisis: whether (and to what extent) it extends its responsibility beyond employees to include contractors, guests, employees’ families, etc.

An effective BCM program:

  • Encompasses emergency response, crisis management, IT disaster recovery, and business continuity.
  • Focuses on the recovery of critical business processes, prioritized according to their importance to the organization’s overall functionality.
  • Employs a standards-based approach to assure uniform and consistent planning, implementation, and upgrade of business continuity policies and procedures across the organization.
  • Uses specialists who’ve created and assessed hundreds of business continuity programs and can provide out-of-the-box solutions across the planning process, from analysis to reporting.

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Mike Maali

Mike Maali

Partner, Risk and Regulatory, PwC US

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