Discussion on Business Continuity Planning with Patrick Rivait, President, Rivait Business Solutions, Inc.
This article was prepared by Patrick Rivait and it is one of a series to be presented in this forum. Patrick specializes in Business Continuity planning and I recommend any reader contact him directly for advice on this valuable service. Patrick can be reached at 519.984.6633
A common question that many business owners ask is “Does my business really need a business continuity plan?”
There are staggering statistics out there supporting the fact that a failure to have a current, robust Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place can have a devastating impact on an organization:
· Of companies experiencing a data loss without having a solid BC/DRP plan in place:
o 43% will never re-open;
o 51% will close within 2 years;
o 6% will survive the long term.
· 80% of companies that do not recover from a disaster within 1 month are likely to go out of business
· Of businesses that experience a disaster and have no emergency plan, 43% will never re-open, of those that do, only 29% will still be operating two years later
· 70% of small firms that experience a major data loss go out of business within a year
From the above statistics it is evident that the adage – “failing to plan is planning to fail” does hold true.
While fear of losing a business may be a tremendous motivator to start a Business Continuity program within an organization, there are a number of other factors that also help justify the effort and expense of initiating them:
· Helps safeguard human lives;
· Helps protect critical assets (processes, property, employees, customers)
· Helps to minimizes confusion and facilitates decision making during a time of crisis;
· Works to reduce the dependency on specific personnel during a crisis;
· Helps to minimizes loss of life, data, revenue, customers, and public reputation/credibility;
· Facilitates the timely recovery of critical business functions;
· Helps ensure organizational survival;
· May be part of regulatory or statutory requirements.
Having an established BCP programs in place helps minimize the potential implications of a crisis on an organization, but there are some secondary benefits that are equally valuable to an organization:
· Demonstrates to current and potential employees that the organization values its staff and works to ensure their safety, well-being, and long-term employment opportunities;
· Demonstrates to customers that the organization will be able to continue delivering goods and services in a timely, reliable manner;
· Demonstrates to lenders and shareholders that the organization is able to effectively respond to crisis, and that the firm’s ability to support their financial obligations would not be jeopardized should a critical incident arise.
Once the program has been initiated, management should work to ensure that this effort becomes engrained within the organization’s culture. Resources across all levels of the organization can provide valuable insights and recommendations that could guide the plan and add to its strength. Once plans have been established, it is critical to educate staff about them, and ensure that the appropriate resources have a clear understanding of their roles and expectations should they be call upon for assistance during a crisis.
Much like maintaining an organization’s strategic and short/long-term business plans, it is also important to keep BC plans current through ongoing testing, exercises and audits to ensure that they remain relevant in the face of a changing set of risks, suppliers, staff, and resources. An out of date continuity plan may be more dangerous than no plan at all as it may provide the organization with a false sense of security that could prove fatal should a critical incident arise.
Starting a Business Continuity program may seem like a daunting task at the outset but it is important to remember that there are numerous resources to assist in the process. Organizations such as DRI International or the Business Continuity Institute have worked to establish standards to support this practice, and there are countless books, websites, software solutions, and consulting services available as well.
If your organization has already established a program – congratulations for moving forward and helping ensure your long-term sustainability. If your organization has not -- the time to start is now.
 Source: Cummings, Haag, & McCubbrey, 2005
 Jonathan Bernstein, president, Bernstein Crisis Management, LLC in Director, June 1998, v51n11, p44
 The Hartford’s Guide to Emergency Preparedness Planning, created by The Hartford Financial Services Group and now published by J.J. Keller & Associates
 Contingency Planning, Strategic Research Corp and DTI/Price Waterhouse Coopers (2004)