Business Continuity Services 101: A Fast and Easy Guide

Business continuity services are becoming more popular and relevant every day. In an uncertain business environment, change has become the norm and disruptions can strike at any time.

If an organization doesn’t prepare properly, those disruptions can have very negative consequences for an organization – and in the worst case scenarios, recovery may become impossible.

With proper preparation, however, organizations can implement a swift response, reduce losses, and quickly return to a normal state of operations.

Below, we’ll explore business continuity in more detail, providing a basic overview of the types of services provided by business continuity consultancies.

What Do Business Continuity Services Providers Do?

There are quite a few types of events that can disrupt an organization’s ability to operate and deliver value to its customers. As mentioned, business continuity is designed to minimize the losses caused by these disruptions and ensure that an organization can continue to operate successfully.

Business continuity consultancies offer services that include:

  • Business continuity management. Business continuity management is the discipline dedicated to preserving and restoring business functions during disruptions. As mentioned above, effective continuity management can help organizations reduce losses that occur as a result of disruptions. Since such a wide variety of circumstances can cause these disruptions, it is important to create a comprehensive series of plans designed to deal with multiple scenarios.
  • Business continuity planning. A business continuity plan is designed to protect key business functions, restore lost business functions, and minimize the negative impacts of business disruptions. These plans are comprehensive documents that assign roles and responsibilities to team members, outline the sequence of actions to take during particular types of disruptions, and more. 
  • Disaster recovery and planning. Disaster recovery often focuses on restoring and recovering lost business functionality. While business continuity plans can deal with non-disaster-related disruptions, disaster recovery plans specifically aim to deal with major disasters. IT disaster recovery plans, for instance, outline policies and procedures related to the protection and recovery of IT infrastructure, data, and technology-related services.
  • Emergency response. Another closely related plan is an emergency response plan, which outlines the activities to undertake in the very first minutes and hours of an emergency, such as a health-related emergency. Workplace accidents, health emergencies, and chemical spills are all examples of emergencies. Naturally, not all of these will be relevant to every business, but in order to protect workers and the business, it is imperative to develop a series of emergency response plans.
  • Risk mitigation and management. Organizational performance can be threatened by other factors besides disasters and emergencies. Economic factors and business trends, such as digital disruption, can also pose risks to an organization’s long-term viability and performance. Risk mitigation plans evaluate potential risks and threats, then develop plans designed to preemptively mitigate and manage those threats.
  • Employee training and preparation. Training, exercises, and drills ensure that employees can actually perform their duties when the time comes. Business continuity service providers, whether they are in-house employees or outsourced consultants, will also help with the design and implementation of these training efforts.

However, it is important to note that business continuity is just one management discipline among several that can help businesses stay afloat during disruptive change.

Business Continuity vs. Organizational Resilience

Organizational resilience is a strategy that includes business continuity management and planning, but it also extends beyond business continuity to include a wide range of other disciplines.

Among others, these disciplines can include:

  • Business continuity
  • Crisis management
  • Human resources management
  • Information security
  • Organizational behavior
  • Compliance

A comprehensive strategy can not only improve response efforts, but also increase an organization’s ability to function during crises, as well as rebound after the crisis has finished.

Business Continuity as a Service – Is It the Right Choice?

Hiring an outside consultancy can often be the right choice for small- to medium-sized businesses. 

Smaller organizations, after all, will have fewer needs when it comes to business continuity planning. They simply won’t have the need nor the budget for hiring an in-house team – and consultancies can often provide a wealth of expertise on-demand.

This is not to say that small businesses shouldn’t implement various organizational resilience efforts. Digital adoption strategies, for instance, can help employees stay productive and efficient during disruptions that affect the digital workplace, as most businesses discovered during the COVID-19 crisis.

However, small businesses have far fewer needs than enterprises, which will often need to implement a far more comprehensive approach.

Enterprises often hire business continuity managers as well as consultancies to assist with specific areas. Digital transformation agencies, for example, can help organizations become more digitally mature and digitally resilient – two key traits that can dramatically boost a business’s chances of surviving disruptions that impact IT infrastructure and services.

There are pros and cons to both approaches, but ultimately an organization should choose a solution that is comprehensive, designed to improve organizational resilience as well as business continuity management.

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.