Business continuity management (BCM) is essential for business resilience. It’s part of a company’s broader plan for handling internal or external changes that disrupt or halt a business.
What is business continuity management (BCM)?
Business continuity management is the set of proactive measures that a company takes in order to avoid loss as a result of major events that negatively impact a business. Such events include hostile mergers or acquisitions, change in leadership, natural disasters, ransomware attacks, data breaches, and other changes that impact company data and assets.
Key areas to safeguard in BCM include but are not limited to:
- Human resources
- Hardware and software
- Products, both physical and intellectual property
BCM entails several closely related activities. Some examples include disaster recovery, emergency management, incident management, and contingency planning. To maximize preparedness and resilience, some businesses purchase business interruption insurance (BII) after drafting a business impact analysis (BIA) to estimate losses for various scenarios.
In spite of doing all the right things—like applying patches to software, implementing a zero-trust policy, training employees, and other proactive security measures—a company can never completely shield itself against natural or malicious events. When an attack occurs, companies ideally have an up-to-date incident response plan (IRP) at the ready.
A company prepares for and handles the inevitable event that shakes up one or more aspects of the company’s operations, but then what? A business continuity plan rounds out disaster planning with a focus on recovery and resilience.
For more on how current work models impact IT security, also read: Work-From-Anywhere Requires More Resilient IT
Benefits of BCM
There are many benefits to implementing BCM that make it well worth the investment.
Reduce downtime and cost
With an effective business continuity plan in place, your business quickly snaps back into normal operations. Reduced downtime feeds into fewer losses not only in terms of revenue but also customers and employees. BCM decreases the likelihood of your business coming to a grinding halt or, worse, closing.
The quicker your company gets back up and running, the fewer losses it suffers as a result. Implementing business continuity also safeguards your organization from becoming ensnared in litigation for negligence and potentially paying hefty fines.
Successfully navigating a detrimental situation by protecting customer, partner, employee, and vendor data wins over the trust of parties involved. BCM puts stakeholders at ease that their data, assets, and investments are in good hands.
When incidents occur, they present valuable learning opportunities. Your company has the benefit of wisdom to further improve its response measures. You’ll also have a better idea of what to expect in the event of an attack on or disruption to the company’s operations.
A business continuity plan is not a one-off task. It requires continuous revision as threats and your business evolve. As your business grows and changes over time, you’ll need regular updates to your plan.
BCM use case examples
BCM is more of a priority in some industries than in others.
Financial institutions hold a lot of sensitive information about consumer and business financials, credit information, and more. Therefore, businesses within this industry are subject to multiple governing bodies.
For example, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) enforces a set of standards that US financial institutions must adhere to. One set of standards for them to follow pertains to cybersecurity awareness and ensures institutions identify, assess, and mitigate cybersecurity risks to their businesses and their third-party service providers.
HIPAA requires companies in the healthcare sector to protect patient privacy, data, and records. For example, HIPAA’s Security Rule declared national standards that insurance companies, medical providers, etc. must abide by to protect patient health information. This means that they need appropriate administrative, physical and technical safeguards to protect patient data.
SaaS and the supply chain
Companies frequently vet third-party SaaS vendors, requiring a business continuity plan in order to conduct business with them. A company will want to know what preventative measures that SaaS company takes. That way, if something goes wrong, the SaaS company will have a plan to minimize down-chain disruptions.
Read more at IT Business Edge: How to Prevent Third-Party Vulnerabilities
Pro tips for BCM
- Brainstorm and note as many potential, realistic scenarios as possible
- Have a plan and back-up plans for each scenario
- Each plan within BCM needs objectives and policies that align with those objectives
- Measure the performance of each scenario-plan within the broader business continuity plan
- Continuously evaluate and, if needed, revise parts of your business continuity plan
- Invest in business continuity software to help manage and update the business continuity plans
Not a matter of “if” but “when”: Is your business ready?
Could your company, in its current state, cope with a formidable event? Could it resume operations without missing a beat, perhaps emerge even stronger?
The effort and foresight that you put into business continuity management will be a key factor in determining how quickly your business bounces back from a setback.
Read next: How to Create a Business Continuity Plan