What Is the Best Way to Define Business Continuity?

How do you best define business continuity?

The business world can be a volatile and uncertain environment, and disruptions or disasters can strike without warning. 

If an organization is unprepared for such interruptions, then those disruptions can be extremely costly – and in a worst case scenario, they can even cause an organization to fail completely.

Business continuity is one among several management disciplines dedicated to mitigating the risks associated with business disruptions.

In this article, we’ll explore the definitions of business continuity, as well as the other important disciplines dedicated to mitigating the risk of business disruption.

What Is the Best Way to Define Business Continuity?

Business continuity management is tasked with maintaining continuous business operations during the event of a business disruption and minimizing the effects of those disruptions as much as possible.

Most commonly, these results are achieved by means of business continuity plans, which are initiated in response to a disruption or disaster.

Business continuity plans are designed to:

  • Maintain business operations during a disaster or disruption. Any time a disaster or disruption threatens normal business operations, it is important to protect key business functions, such as product delivery and customer service. Temporary measures, such as remote working or relocation, can enable a business to maintain these key functions and minimize losses.
  • Initiate recovery and restoration procedures. Naturally, an organization should restore normal operations as quickly as possible. Business continuity plans will define clear recovery objectives and timelines, based on the projected impacts of a disruption. 
  • Operate in conjunction with other response plans. A business continuity plan will often be restricted to a specific business unit, which means that several continuity plans will be initiated simultaneously in the event of a disruption. Other plans will also be executed at the same time, such as emergency response plans or disaster recovery plans.

Other response efforts will share many of the same objectives as business continuity plans. An IT disaster recovery plan, for example, is intended to restore IT assets and functions in the event of cyber attacks, IT failures, or other technology-related disasters.

Business continuity and disaster recovery are sometimes used synonymously, though many professionals distinguish between the two. 

Business continuity is focused on maintaining continuous business operations, while disaster recovery focuses exclusively on recovery and restoration activities.

Despite this overlap, the important takeaway is that businesses must take a multi-pronged approach to mitigating the risks associated with business disruption.

What Is the Definition of Organizational Resilience?

Organizational resilience takes a holistic approach to reducing the negative impacts of business disruptions. 

Though organizational resilience frameworks vary in scope, they tend to extend their focus beyond business continuity into other disciplines.

A comprehensive approach to improving organizational resilience could include other strategies, such as:

  • Risk management. Risk managers assess business risk in a wide variety of contexts, including the field of business continuity. However, risk management extends its purview beyond disasters to include other risks and threats, such as economic factors, digital disruption, workplace accidents, and so forth.
  • Human resources management. Human resources can improve organizational culture, boost workforce skill levels, and more. A culture that is more agile, adaptable, and open to change will also be more capable of dealing with disruptions, emergencies, and change.
  • Cyber security and information security. A disaster recovery plan can certainly benefit organizations by reducing losses and shrinking recovery timelines. However, a strong information security program can dramatically reduce or even remove many IT-related risks.
  • Digital transformation and digital maturity. Digitally mature organizations have modern IT infrastructures and tools, as well as a digitally skilled workforce that can make use of those tools. The more digitally mature an organization is, the more effectively it will be able to respond to disruptions, digital or not. During the COVID-19 outbreak, for instance, digitally savvy organizations were able to initiate telecommuting options more quickly and effectively, reducing the overall impact on business operations.
  • Crisis management and communications. A poorly managed crisis can significantly exacerbate the impacts of a disruption, which is why crisis management is so important. During any emergency, crisis management teams must communicate strategically and efficiently with a number of parties, including employees, business partners, and customers. 
  • Change management. Organizational change is required for any organization that wants to stay adaptable and resilient. A business that wants to become more digitally mature or implement a new IT security system, for instance, will need to implement organizational change – and structured change management is usually necessary to implement those changes successfully.

For more information on organizational resilience, it is best to learn more from experts in this area, such as BCI or ICOR.

Why Is Digital Resilience Important?

In the context of organizational resilience and business continuity, digital resilience refers to an organization’s digital capabilities and flexibility.

Organization’s that are more digitally resilient…

  • Have a more digitally skilled and capable workforce
  • Are more digitally mature
  • Have digital adoption strategies 
  • Can adapt to digital disruptions more quickly and effectively
  • Leverage digital technology to improve organizational resilience during disruptions

In the digital era, digital maturity and digital resilience should become a core component of every organizational resilience strategy. 

Given the many benefits associated with digital resilience, digital transformation should become a top priority.

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.