Maintaining an expected level of service

What is business continuity?

Every day, communities, organizations, local/provincial/federal government agencies are at risk of hazards and threats like no other time. Whether they are natural dangers such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, or man-made threats such as terrorism, fraud, and cybercrimes; organizations are stretched to the limit of being able to not only respond appropriately but also put in place measures that would protect against and minimized the risk of these and many other threats. In addition to traditional threat vectors that organizations have planned for, the world within which we operate is becoming much more dependent on technology and with the globalization of goods and services, business and supply chains have become more intertwined than ever before.

More and more organizations need to adopt the following statement:

"Maintaining a balance between responding to a current threat and maintaining a continuity of operations can only strengthen organizational resilience in a time of uncertainty and risk."

Simply put, the modern consumer expects the modern organization to be resilient, in other words for it to deliver on its value proposition even in the face of negative circumstances. This also means that resilience is a fundamental, and valuable business differentiator in today's rapidly changing business environment.

Business continuity allows organizations, communities, and all levels of government to maintain an expected level of service for those most critical to your customers or stakeholders. The ability to maintain a continuity of operation differentiates organizations from those who only consider the immediate 'here and now'.

Benefits of business continuity management

Developing a business continuity management program uncovers many other positive aspects as well as the seemingly obvious. Although the fundamental tenant for implementing business continuity is to lessen the impacts of adverse events, there are several other more business-oriented benefits that may add to why this framework is a crucial part of an organization's fabric. Business continuity allows organizations, communities, and all levels of government to maintain and expected level of service for those most critical to your customers or stakeholders. The ability to maintain a continuity of operation differentiates organizations from those who only consider the immediate here and now.

Developing a business continuity program and plans uncovers many different positive opportunities including:

  • Creating competitive advantage;
  • Enhancing an organization's image and confidence with stakeholders (shareholders, customers/suppliers, employees, local officials);
  • Helping organizations fulfill moral responsibility to protect employees and the community;
  • Increasing an organization's ability to minimize and recover from financial loses, market changes, fines, supplier interruptions, reputational hits, etc.
  • Reducing exposure to civil or criminal liability;
  • Reduces insurance costs.

5 fundamental steps that should be considered when developing a business continuity plan:

  1. Analyze your business - This is the first stage of the business continuity management lifecycle because it is necessary to understand from the start exactly where your business is vulnerable. This stage of the process will also help to gain the involvement and understanding of other people and departments.

  1. Assess the risks - There are two aspects to every risk to your organization: How likely is the risk to happen? What effect will it have on your organization? Continuity Management will provide a framework for assessing the impact of each one.

  1. Develop your strategy - An organization may choose one of the following strategies:

  1. Accept the risks - do/change nothing.

  1. Accept the risks but make a mutual arrangement with another business or a business continuity partner to ensure that you have help after an incident.

  1. Attempt to reduce the risks.

  1. Develop your plan - Once your strategy has been decided upon, the plan can be put in place. Most good continuity plans share some important features:

  • Make it clear who needs to do what, and who takes responsibility for what.
  • You should always include backups to cover key roles.
  • Use check lists that people can easily follow.
  • Include clear instructions for the crucial first hours after an incident.
  • Include a list of things that can be thought about after the first hours.
  • A plan of how often, when and how you will review your plan to make sure it is always a 'living document'.

Remember you will never be able to plan in detail for every possible event. Remember that people need to be able to react quickly in an emergency: stopping to read lots of detail will make that more difficult.

  1. Rehearse your plan - A Continuity Plan is a living document and sometimes, you may only discover weaknesses when you put it into action. Exercises help you confirm that your plan will be cohesive and robust if you ever need it. Exercises are also good ways to train staff that have business continuity responsibilities.

What value can Castellan bring to your organization?

  1. Expertise: Our team consists of a depth of real-world expertise and experiences in implementing and managing business continuity across an organization. Focusing on the business value of technology and walking the organization through a Business Impact Analysis; helps inform expectations around the most critical systems, technologies and data required to maintain a continuity of operation during times of adverse events.

  2. Industry Standard Frameworks: Our consultants use a consistent and industry-standardized framework for the recovery and continuity of an organization's most critical services and processes. These consistent frameworks assist in working outside of your organization's boundaries when working with partners, suppliers and other parties necessary to maintain a continuity of operation during unwanted events.

  3. Expert Facilitation and Training Expertise: Developing a framework and plan is only the first step in effectively managing the risks and impacts of emergencies. Castellan staff are experienced in facilitating awareness and training programs along with leading Business Continuity exercises across a broad range of scenarios and teams within the organization.

  4. Easy to Digest Reports: The best plans are based on the ability to understand the essence, regardless of roles and responsibilities. Recommendations coming from the Threat Risk Assessment and Business Impact Assessment will have tangible operational goals, metrics and clearly defined roles and ownership. Business continuity documentation does not need to be chapters upon chapters of recommendation of theoretical "should do's", but rather achievable, understandable, and time-boxed options that lay out a feasible path to increasing the organizations' resilience.

  5. Personalized Approach: Castellan focuses only on Preparedness, Risk, Compliance & Governance, which allows us to offer highly personalized consulting services, enabling us to build strong partnerships and work closely with you to address your specific needs and challenges. Our approach involves collaborating closely with your key staff to design a customized security service that aligns with your requirements. This ensures that our service(s) is(are) tailored to your specific needs.

  6. Staff Cost-savings: By opting for our professional services, you gain access to our team at a fraction of the cost of hiring an in-house security expert. This offers significant cost savings while still benefiting from the extensive knowledge and skills of our team of experts.

Many organizations in the past have not valued business continuity the same way it prioritizes other functions such as finance, operations, or HR. However, as seen and realized from recent events in the last several decades, more and more emphasis is being put on understanding the risks and the need for continuity plans. Business continuity needs to be woven into the fabric of your organization's planning and operational functions. Unlike other assessments, this is not a once-and-done proposition, but an ongoing commitment to ensure that your most critical services stay operational, ultimately strengthening your organization's resilience!

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