If your typical C-suite were to have listed their priorities before 2020, how high on the agenda would they have placed business resilience?
With an eye on growth and profitability, issues like digital transformation, product development and business development were often considered more worthy of their immediate attention.
But it’s amazing how quickly things change in a global pandemic. When survival is the priority, continuity and resilience become the bedrock for a business to keep trading.
Any failings or shortcomings in business continuity or resilience strategies then become quickly apparent. With their sense of security stripped away, businesses can see where a lack of attention or support from the organisation has created gaps in their plans. Now is the time to plug those gaps.
The Vodafone Future Ready Report 2020 found 82% of companies which had invested in a fully documented and tested business continuity plan felt it had worked well during the pandemic.
Why is there a lack of support?
The biggest cause of deficiencies in business continuity or resilience plans is a lack of support or awareness from different parts of the organisation.
Perhaps no one has taken proper ownership and control of the plan, so it’s never anyone’s top priority. Or maybe employees haven’t been properly informed about the plan, so they don’t feel it’s relevant to them. If communication of the plan isn’t clear, you can’t expect people with busy schedules to give it the time of day.
Perhaps the biggest issue you need to address is “why do you need a business continuity or resilience plan?” To address this, a senior member of the company needs to make the case for the plan and gain support for it.
So whoever kickstarts the plan must be able to articulate its merits and benefits to senior management.
A crisis does not last forever
A clear argument for business continuity and resilience planning is to point to 2020 and say “look what happened.” What more persuasion do people need when they survey the economic damage caused by the pandemic?
This might have an effect in the short term, but it does not guarantee a long-term commitment to business resilience. It’s easy to respond with a sense of urgency in a crisis. Maintaining that level of engagement with business resilience once the crisis passes is much harder.
Don’t leave business resilience behind
It is tempting to move onto other issues when the shock of the pandemic has receded. For some companies, funding may be limited for business resilience because they’re still reeling from the nationwide lockdowns.
The pandemic has provided a testing ground for the effectiveness of digital transformation and cloud strategies. Businesses had to adapt their models using those technologies to, for example, enable people to work from home.
Thankfully, many of these technologies include inherent business resilience capabilities that strengthen the company’s resilience plan.
Awareness is key
It’s tempting to view business resilience as an occasional priority to protect against an unexpected disruption or event. But this thinking leads business resilience planning to fall by the wayside.
You need someone in the company who can:
Keep business resilience in the foreground.
Ensure the plan is reviewed, updated and tested regularly.
Ensure everyone knows their role.
Arrange appropriate training for employees.
Communicate any changes in the plan.
Rehearse the plan to help people understand their role and identify problems under test conditions.
Continually advocate the merits of an effective plan.
Ownership and awareness are critical. Organisational support for business resilience may not be automatic but the case for it should be compelling.