This is the third part of a four-part series on Business Continuity Management (BCM).

When it comes to launching an initiative such as a Business Continuity Management (BCM) program, the old adage “keep it simple” holds true and it is valuable to keep that principle fresh in the minds of participants throughout the process.  With the variety of activities, individuals and business units involved, spanning the entire spectrum of the organization, the program can easily become unnecessarily complex without careful focus.

It is useful to view the BCM program as three distinct components based on the lifecycle of any unplanned event:

  1. Emergency Response/Crisis Management
    • This phase is focused on immediately responding to a situation. The primary concern is people’s health and safety and ensuring premises are safe and secure.
  1. Business Continuity
    • The emphasis here is on ensuring key business functions can continue to operate during the disruption. This involves a thorough analysis of the business to identify the truly critical business functions and their associated risks.  The subcomponents of this phase include:
      • Data Gathering & Analysis (Business Impact Analysis (BIA) and Risk Assessment)
      • Plan Development
      • Testing & Maintenance
  1. Recovery
    • The focus during the recovery phase is post-event and returning to normal operations. Once the unplanned event is over, it is necessary to restore systems and processes to a point in time acceptable by the business, in order to reduce the long-term impact of the event on the organization.

Another helpful reminder is to think of the business continuity plan itself as a collection of individual plans specific to a situation or service, rather than a single, all-encompassing plan that covers every possible scenario. For example, an organization would have separate plans specifically for events such as a pandemic outbreak, an office evacuation or a line of business being disrupted.  Each of these plans will vary in the activities to be performed and the resources involved, but will all share the common theme of assisting staff to continue operations during the unplanned event

As the various plans are being developed, it is absolutely essential to consider the audience and ensure the plan being written is appropriate and will be of benefit to users during a disruption.  It is critical to only include information that will assist users of the plan during the unplanned event.  The plan itself should be as brief as possible while simultaneously providing the necessary information for users to carry out tasks that ensure key products and services are delivered to clients.  It is always useful to continually ask yourself: “will this information be of value during a disruption?” – If the answer is no, it should not be included in the plan.  Remember, simplicity is the key to keep the BCM program focused on ensuring the survival and perseverance of the business.