Understanding Business Continuity: Concept, Definition, and Benefits

In this article, we’ll explore the core business continuity concept, as well as important definitions and the leading benefits of business continuity.

The field of business continuity management has become more relevant than ever in recent times, as most organizations discovered during the COVID-19 crisis in 2020. 

However, health-related crises are hardly the only disruptions that organizations must face in the modern economy.

A wide variety of disruptions can interfere with normal business operations, including:

  • Natural disasters. Natural disasters, such as floods or earthquakes, can threaten both human life and a business’s normal operations. Planning for these disasters can not only keep employees and customers safe, it can improve an organization’s ability to operate and deliver value during these emergencies.
  • Workplace accidents. Workplace accidents can often be prevented with the proper workplace procedures and protocols. However, they are always a possibility, and large-scale accidents can significantly interfere with operations. Risk mitigation and response plans are both vital means of reducing the frequency and the impact of these accidents.
  • Digital disruption. Digital innovation can disrupt marketplaces or even entire industries. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, the entire economy will undergo transformation, opening up countless new job types that have yet to exist. Though business continuity plans often focus on disasters, digital disruption poses an equal – if not greater – threat to many organizations.
  • IT-related disasters. An IT-related disaster can include hacking, hardware failure, or other disruptions that impact IT services, such as power outages or natural disasters. Given the modern organization’s reliance on IT, creating IT-specific disaster recovery plans is a necessity.

To minimize the effects of these disruptions, preparation is an absolute must, which is where business continuity comes in.

Business Continuity: Concept and Definition

Business continuity management is tasked with responding to business disruptions in order to minimize the negative impacts to a business.

Since interruptions to an organization’s normal operations can be very costly, a business continuity plan is well worth the investment.

Business continuity plans outline a series of actions to undertake in the event of a disaster or a disruption, with the aim of:

  • Responding swiftly and decisively to a disruption
  • Protecting key business functions
  • Restoring lost business assets and functions as quickly as possible

As mentioned, the overall aim – and the biggest benefit of business continuity planning – is to reduce losses and damage.

However, there are a number of other reasons to invest in business continuity management.

Business Continuity: Key Benefits

Business continuity presents a number of benefits to organizations, such as:

  • Improved organizational resilience and ability to operate during difficult times
  • A decreased financial impact
  • Improved customer experience and employee experience
  • A better reputation and improved credibility
  • Increased levels of compliance with government regulations 

To achieve these benefits, however, businesses must plan carefully and develop continuity plans well in advance of the time when they are needed.

Business Continuity: Response Planning

Business continuity planning is the central activity by which an organization can prepare for and mitigate the negative effects of a disruption.

Each plan should contain a number of core components, such as:

  • Assessing risks and analyzing impacts. There are quite a few potential risks that can threaten an organization’s day-to-day operations, as we saw above. However, not all of those disruptions pose an equal risk, nor will they impact the organization in the same way. Before designing a plan, it is important to assess the potential risks that could affect a the company, then analyze how each of those risks will impact the business and the bottom line.
  • Assignment of a business continuity team. Every business will have a team of specialists that will lead and coordinate the response efforts. That team’s information, including contact details and their responsibilities, should be outlined in the plan.
  • Training and exercises. Employee training should also be designed specifically for the business continuity plan. Training and exercises can help familiarize employees with the content of the plan, while also opening up the plan to scrutiny and revealing potential weaknesses.
  • Activities to protect key business functions. The most crucial goal of business continuity, according to some experts, is the maintenance of critical business operations. This should, therefore, be the primary aim of the business continuity program. If a natural disaster compromises the workplace, for example, then organizations may choose to implement telecommuting procedures in order to maintain workforce productivity.
  • Restoration and recovery activities. Once it becomes feasible, it is important to restore lost business functions and activities. Relocating a workforce back to the main office after a period of remote working would be one example of this.

As with any other business process or project, it is important to develop a fully fleshed out plan that includes all of the required protocols, procedures, guidelines, templates, and documents.

For more information on creating these plans, it pays to look for business continuity plan sample templates.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.