Business continuity planning teams came to the fore in 2020, as organizations across all sectors and geographies were forced to respond rapidly to the coronavirus pandemic.
Whether it was pivoting to remote working, coping with surging demand and precarious supply chains, or working out how to operate in a national lockdown, organizations have been tested to the max. This unprecedented scenario was the ultimate trial of business continuity plans (BCPs) – the strategies they had devised to respond to unexpected disruption.
Much has been written about the importance of having a business continuity plan and how business continuity strategies have played out during the pandemic. Here, we focus on one particular – and vital – business continuity planning area, deciding on your team and giving them what they need to be successful.
How To Make Sure Your Business Continuity Team Is Fit for Purpose
So, you have decided the time is right to put in place or, more likely, revisit your business continuity strategy as most organizations have some form of BCP in place. But not all BCPs are created equal – determining whether yours meets best practice standards, ensuring it keeps pace with your evolving business, and reviewing it regularly are essential steps in creating a fit-for-purpose continuity strategy.
One element of the plan that you should give requisite attention to is your business continuity team. Who is responsible for business continuity planning? Selecting the right people, taking steps to ensure the team can operate effectively, and finally, supporting teams with the best systems and technology. All of these things can make the difference between success and failure when it comes to your business continuity strategy.
A Step-by-Step Action Plan to Business Continuity Team Planning
If you are looking to build a world-class business continuity team, there are a few things to consider. Here, we highlight the key steps you should take.
1. Work out your business continuity team structure and decide which core teams need to be included in your taskforce.
Typically, these will include IT, HR, Communications and Operations. It’s important to have someone from each of these core areas represented. Who is responsible for having account-level business continuity plans in place? This will be specific to your organization but is an important question to ensure each business area has a fully-formed plan.
Depending on your organizational structure and focus, other areas may also need to be involved. Consider whether some key external parties – for instance, your security or maintenance contractors – should also be part of this team.
2. Allocate clear responsibilities.
Assigning business continuity roles and responsibilities is one of the first and most important steps in this process.
Having clear accountability is always important in business and becomes even more so in a crisis. Your plan must include clear BCP team roles and responsibilities. You don’t need anything falling through the gaps – and don’t have time to accommodate duplication or uncertainty over business continuity management team responsibilities. What is the chain of command when your BCP comes into effect?
3. Ensure management can reach the team easily.
Having up-to-date contact information for all members of your business continuity team is vital; they should all be contactable instantly in a crisis. Similarly, the team needs access to accurate contact information to communicate quickly in any disruption to business sites for your entire business.
Having accurate corporate data underpins your ability to do this; ensure you have 360-degree vision across all your business subsidiaries and entities, so nobody is missed from any outreach. Ensure your entity data stands up to scrutiny so that any communication around business interruption reaches everyone it needs to.
4. Prepare for absence.
Depending on the type of crisis you’re facing, you may see high levels of absent personnel; of course, this was very evident during the coronavirus pandemic. Ensure you have plans in place that enable business continuity work to carry on even if key people are away.
For instance, having systems that enable documents to be signed via e-signatures ensures that strategic decisions can be progressed even when signatories are unavailable. While hosting important organizational documents on an externally-hosted portal – that will maintain its integrity if in-house systems are down – allows designated people access to key documents wherever in the world they are.
5. Put in place systems to support your business continuity crisis management team.
Technology can be a huge help when preparing for or responding to an emergency. As above, knowing that contact information and corporate data is up to date saves time and creates a more robust response to a disaster.
Cloud-based software enables teams to collaborate remotely – and is hosted off-site, so it continues to function should your power or systems be compromised – can support your response by enabling access to key documents.
Knowing that your governance and compliance obligations will be met following business interruption is crucial, especially if the disruption affects your data security. The right technology can help here, too, evidencing that you have taken the necessary steps to prevent any compliance breaches.
Success Strategies for Business Continuity Teams
Hopefully, these steps have given you a framework to follow when forming a team to tackle business disruption. Selecting the right people; giving them the data they need to make informed decisions; putting in place systems that will support them and your wider business operations should the worst happen – these are just some of the essential steps that will enable you to build the best team for business continuity planning.
The right technology can make differentiate between success and failure for a business continuity management team. To learn more about how Diligent’s suite of cloud-based solutions can provide a secure foundation for your business continuity planning, get in touch to request a demo.