A business continuity definition is the best place to start learning about business continuity, disaster recovery, and organizational resilience.
In this article, we’ll cover a business continuity definition, plus:
- The main ingredients of a business continuity plan
- The benefits of business continuity planning
- How business continuity fits into an organizational resilience strategy
This information will offer a good overview of business continuity, an increasingly important and valuable discipline in today’s uncertain economy.
A Business Continuity Plan Definition
Business continuity plans are implemented in response to disruptions that impact an organization’s normal operations, such as natural disasters or supply chain interruptions.
These plans have several objectives:
- Provide a swift, predetermined response to business disruptions. Organizations cannot wait until disruptions occur before creating a business continuity plan. A slow response will only exacerbate the situation, amplifying losses and causing more damage to the business. A fast, pre-planned course of action ensures that the entire organization can act quickly and in unison.
- Protect the most vital business functions. One of the first aims of a business continuity plan is to protect the most vital business functions, such as the company’s ability to deliver goods and services to its customers. If an organization’s supply chain is interrupted, for instance, then product delivery could quickly come to a halt. A business continuity plan would project various scenarios such as this one and devise ways to protect these key functions as much as possible.
- Restore lost operations and assets as soon as possible. After the most critical business activities have been protected, it is important to restore all other functions and assets. The strategy for restoring those functions will vary depending on the situation. If an organization’s main worksite becomes unusable, for instance, the continuity plan may define a timetable for remote working, followed by relocation.
Continuity plans such as these help organizations stay prepared for a wide variety of disruptions and stay operational even during trying times.
5 Major Benefits to Business Continuity Planning
There are quite a few reasons to develop a business continuity plan – here are five of the most important:
- Improved organizational performance in the face of disruptions. Organizational performance will inevitably suffer during major business disruptions. However, a proper continuity plan can significantly mitigate those losses, improve organizational performance, and ensure that the business maintains continuous operations.
- The preservation of employee productivity and the employee experience. Employee productivity directly affects the organization’s output and performance, and many types of disruptions can significantly disrupt workflows and dampen productivity. Keeping employees engaged and productive is essential in order to keep the organization functioning normally.
- Compliance with industry standards and regulations. There are quite a few industries that require businesses to maintain business continuity plans. Regulations in healthcare and finance, for instance, mandate that organizations in those industries actively maintain business continuity plans.
- Increased credibility and trust from customers. Business continuity plans can also become a competitive differentiator. Customers, business partners, and other stakeholders will, after all, be more likely to trust an organization that actively maintains business continuity plans.
- A consistent, positive customer experience. If the customer experience suffers during a disruption or a disaster, then the organization’s bottom line will also suffer. Needless to say, these types of losses can cause long-term damage, since lost customers will be unlikely to return.
Clearly, business continuity plans offer quite a few advantages to organizations that choose to implement them. Perhaps the most overriding and important benefit of all is the first one mentioned above – minimizing the negative impacts to organizational performance. In some cases, an effective response plan can literally save an organization from failure.
This reason alone should be enough to convince any business to invest in business continuity management.
However, continuity plans are not the only response efforts designed to minimize disruption and maximize performance.
Next, we’ll look at several other strategies that should complement business continuity efforts.
Business Continuity in the Context of Organizational Resilience
Organizational resilience takes a holistic perspective on mitigating business disruptions.
Although organizational frameworks vary in terms of their content, the underlying premise is the same: a holistic, comprehensive strategy can improve an organization’s ability to stay resilient and operational during disruptive change.
Business continuity plans and other response measures are excellent ways to minimize the effects of disruptions. However, continuity plans and other response plans are reactive and only implemented once a disruption occurs.
Organizational resilience includes these types of plans, as well as proactive measures, such as:
- Risk mitigation and management
- Disaster prevention
- Strengthening key business systems
- Improving organizational agility
- Digital transformation
There are several schools of thought on how to best approach the complex field of organizational resilience, which are beyond the scope of this article.
It is simply worth noting that to truly prepare for and mitigate the effects of business disruptions, organizations should develop a holistic strategy that extends beyond reactive planning.
In addition to those response plans, businesses should invest in a range of efforts that make the organization more resilient, agile, and adaptable.