The importance of business continuity cannot be overstated

The importance of business continuity cannot be overstated

Jul 24, 2014


Many organizations have saved time, money and resources by investing in business continuity solutions, but a number of company leaders are still failing to achieve effective disaster recovery strategies.

This is according to new research by BSI Group, which claimed business continuity management (BCM) exercises are often piecemeal or badly implemented.

BCM encompasses a range of planning and preparation methods for helping to get a business back on track following a disaster. This often includes the recovery of crucial IT systems, such as production databases.

In fact 77 per cent of organizations polled by the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) and BSI Group said they are 'extremely concerned' about unplanned telecoms and IT outages. Cyber attacks and data breaches were a worry for 73 per cent.

Lyndon Bird, BCI technical director, said the "obvious benefits" of implementing a business continuity plan are sometimes not enough to convince senior executives.

"It's not that they're stupid - far from it - these are intelligent people or they wouldn't be leading organizations in the first place," he explained.

"They can see the dangers of a flood, cyber attack or terrorism, for example, but they may not think it's likely to happen to them, nor see BCM as a cost-effective measure if it does."

There are a number of ways enterprises can minimize the adverse effects of IT system failures. For example, regularly backing up crucial data and investing in standby database software are often essential recommendations for organizations that want to maintain 24/7 operational capacity.

Not only this, but a wider BCM program could also offer additional benefits outside of reducing downtime - a fact that Mr Bird claims may encourage executives to sit up and take note. 

"The C-suite is much more interested in these tangible business benefits - carrots are more effective than sticks," he stated.

The advantages of better business continuity

Rainer Hubert, managing consultant at Berlin-based IT governance consultancy HiSolutions, recently stated that business continuity spending can generate return on investment even when major disasters fail to occur.

Speaking to delegates at the 2013 BCM World Conference, he claimed that organizations with solid business continuity measures in place can obtain lower insurance premiums and reduced interest rates on loans.

According to Mr Hubert, insurers and banks can be persuaded to bring down rates if companies can prove they would quickly recover from a disaster, thus making them less likely to make a claim or default on borrowing obligations.

He also stated enterprises generally benefit from a wide examination of existing procedures when exploring disaster recovery options.

"When discussing BCM, you consider contingency plans and processes, and how to work without urgently needed resources after a catastrophic event," Mr Hubert said.

"This can lead to the creation of new ideas, not only to implement a workaround process in case of disaster, but also to improve day-to-day process in normal situations."

BCI Technology Consultant Lorna Anderson agreed, adding that continuity planning forces senior executives to take a whole-of-business approach when examining operations.

Furthermore, in an increasingly competitive economic landscape, organizations may need to ramp up BCM and disaster recovery to appease high consumer expectations.

"In some cases, having a robust BCM process in place is mandated by customers, so without it, you're not in the game," Ms Anderson stated.

Companies that make the voluntary decision to boost business continuity can often reassure shareholders and existing customers, while winning new ones. This is also a great way of building a brand's reputation as a reliable, timely supplier of goods and services.

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