a business continuity strategy.
The 2008 Business Continuity Institute’s
Good Practice Guidelines recommends
business continuity management being an
integral part of an organization’s culture.
Growth and viability of an organization
is the result of well-developed business
strategies. Mintzberg, a doctoral professor of management at McGill University
and author, considers business strategy as
an organizational perspective of the business environment. An effective business
strategy requires everyone throughout
the organization sharing the perspective
resulting in common behavior, thinking,
and intentions. The preceding scenarios highlight different perspectives that
affected the organization during and after
a business disruption.
The owner of the grocery store realized technology provides efficiency, when
it works. She developed a business strategy of training cashiers and stock personnel on the computerized system and an
alternative manual system. Unexpected
power outages and equipment failures
were familiar events that crippled technology but not manual procedures. The core
strategic element of the business strategy
was to provide customer service no matter
what the situation. The shared perspective
was ingrained in the organizational culture.
The primary partner of the law firm had
years of developing relationships with clients and other businesses within the city.
The organizational culture is based on
mutual support of the business community. The firm had an advantage in understanding the legal frustrations surrounding
insurance claims, city investigations, and
client services. The structure of a partnership allowed multiple layers of decision-making. Shared knowledge, responsibility,
and perspective are the foundational elements of a strong business strategy.
The common elements between the two
businesses are a well-communicated business strategy, pro-active managers, and a
lack of an established business continuity
plan. An unanswered question is would
the businesses have survived without the
primary key person directing actions.
Inclusion of business continuity into business strategies would ensure any employee
could perform appropriate actions to maintain business operations.
Working with very small businesses
(less than 10 employees) has indicated
multiple single points of failure since the
owner is usually the accountant, inventory manager, public relations point, and
human resource manager. Any disruption,
small or large, is a disaster to this sized
business. Many of these owners retain
corporate knowledge only in their heads;
a few have written operation guides. A
well-prepared business impact analysis
provides the foundation for a streamlined
continuity plan emphasizing survival first,
Small businesses need to view business continuity as a strategy for survival
first then eventual recovery. Many small
businesses view business continuity planning as a costly endeavor and a low priority. Small businesses lack additional
resources for alternate locations, hot-sites,
or redundant systems usually considered
in larger enterprise continuity plans. These
elements are important for long-term
recovery but for immediate operations,
identifying and establishing basic survival
elements would be more beneficial to the
small business owner.
The first step is deciding the minimal
functions the business needs to survive
the first few days until the business can
establish recovery operations. The first
response by owners will be that everything
is needed immediately. The reality is not
everything will be available for immediate
recovery. The first priority should be the
protection and safety of people. Without
employees, the business would not function even if facilities and equipment have
been fully restored. Employees are the key
to successful implementation of business
continuity and disaster recovery plans.
IT directors would disagree that a business could operate without electronic
information systems for a longer time
than normally recommended. However,
many day-to-day operations can function
with manual standbys – paper, pencil,
and human interaction. Manual processes
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