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Business Continuity: The Business Case For Doing Nothing

In a recent conversation we had with a banking, finance, insurance client the CEO said:
‘Our well-resourced in-house business continuity team were paralyzed by COVID-19. We had to tell them to forget everything they had ever learned about business continuity”.

In an ideal world, with unlimited resources, Business Continuity Managers would develop and test comprehensive Business Continuity Plans (BCPs), and then choose challenging scenarios with which to regularly exercise their Crisis Management Team (CMT). 

However, we are not in the ideal world. Even pre-COVID, the reality was that business continuity management activities were compromised by limited budgets and insufficient time and resources. Not to mention that (as our client found out) BCPs are often highly prescriptive and lack flexibility when the context and magnitude of the problem doesn’t neatly fit the plan.
Therefore, prioritisation must take place. 
Is it better to try and focus on both the plan and the team; or should one be resourced to the detriment of the other? Our experience is that the benefits are clearly in favour of a strong CMT over prescriptive BCPs. The CMT must also have well-grounded teamwork, that is bound inside excellent workflow. But CMT’s only need lean and highly applied plans. 
This is what we call the minimised plan and maximised team approach.  
However, we recommend three minimum BCP requirements: (1) complete enterprise wide process mapping- what your enterprise does and who is responsible; (2) ensure IT Disaster Recovery Plans are in place; and (3) guarantee corporate insurances are robust- that coverage matches risk. There is also value in BCPs that relate specifically to ensuring facility redundancy. That said, by now COVID-19 will have demonstrated your organisation’s vulnerability, as well as its adaptability. You now experientially know what you can’t do from home, so have a redundancy plan for those things.
Conclusion. Keep BCPs to the absolute bare minimum without prescriptive or complicated procedures and processes. Ensure the BCP has simple, actionable information that can support CMT decision making. Bias the team over the plan. Sweatware before shelfware.

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