What is BCM and why does it matter?
In this article, we’ll examine business continuity management (BCM) in detail.
Among other things, we’ll learn:
- What business continuity management is
- Why it matters
- The benefits of creating business continuity plans
- How to create and manage continuity efforts
To start off, let’s answer the most fundamental question related to this topic…
What Is BCM?
Business continuity management (BCM) is a business discipline devoted to managing disruptions that can impact an organization’s normal operations. Since such disruptions can have severe and negative consequences, it is imperative to minimize those negative impacts as much as possible.
The best way to reduce the negative impacts of business disruptions is by creating plans of action beforehand.
Business continuity plans outline a course of action to take during such disruption.
These plans are designed to achieve several objectives, including:
- Minimizing the negative impacts of disruptions to the business. In the event of a disruption to an organization’s operations, swift action is often needed to reduce the negative effects of those disruptions. Disruptions to a supply chain, for instance, can threaten an organization’s ability to deliver value and ensure customer success – which, in turn, can threaten its profit margins and even its very survival. In such cases, having a plan of action can improve an organization’s ability to react quickly and reduce the impacts of such disruptions.
- Maintaining critical business functions. Certain business functions are more important than others – IT, for instance, is absolutely critical in the digital era. This is why organizations should find ways to keep those functions alive when day-to-day operations are threatened. Business continuity plans address this issue, defining which business units will be affected in which way, which business units are most critical, and how to maintain those activities.
- Ensuring that the customer experience remains consistent and positive. Disruptions to daily operations can easily affect the customer experience. For this reason, business continuity plans should include, as one of their aims, a strategy for maintaining a consistent customer experience, even if the organization is not operating at full capacity.
- Restoring lost business functions or activities. Ultimately, every business continuity effort should be aimed at restoring normal operations. This portion of the plan will outline a series of activities to take, how those actions will be accomplished, a timeline, and other relevant information.
- Keeping the workforce successful. If the employee experience suffers, then productivity and output can also suffer, which will only exacerbate disruptions to the business. Business continuity plans should outline actions that an organization can take to ensure that employees stay productive and engaged, even during difficult circumstances.
An organization may have multiple contingency plans that are designed to address different types of disasters.
Some plans, for instance, may prepare for cyber attacks, data breaches, and other disruptions to IT services. Other plans may outline a series of actions to take in the event of a natural disaster. Yet others may define activities that address supply chain disruptions.
Although creating business continuity plans takes time and effort, their costs are far outweighed by their benefits.
Why Is BCM Important?
Business continuity management is vitally important since it can…
- Provide a safety net for customers, vendors, business partners, employees, and all other stakeholders. Many customers and clients prefer to work with organizations that actively develop and maintain business continuity plans – and some even require it.
- Reduce downtime, losses, financial damages, or other negative impacts of disruptions. As mentioned, one of the most important aims of any business continuity program is to gauge and reduce the negative impacts of a disruption to a business. And one of the best ways to do that is by developing plans of action well before they are needed.
- Improve an organization’s reputation. In certain circumstances, having a business continuity plan can actually be useful for improving customers’ perception of a business. That enhanced reputation, in turn, can become a marketing tool for gaining and maintaining more clients.
- Ensure that the organization remains compliant with relevant laws and regulations. Some industries require that organizations develop business continuity plans. Healthcare organizations, for instance, are legally obligated to plan for certain types of disasters and disruptions. Business continuity management, therefore, is not just recommended, it is a legal mandate.
Though it is not always possible to foresee every outcome or effect associated with certain types of business disruptions, effective planning can dramatically improve an organization’s ability to survive and stay profitable during trying times.
In fact, in some industries, having business continuity plans is not just recommended, it is required by law.
Every organization is vulnerable to some type of disruption to its operations, which makes business continuity management an extremely valuable asset, regardless of the industry or the circumstances.