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The BCI, in association with FortressAS, has published a new report looking at how business continuity and resilience may develop following the shake-up that the pandemic has given the profession.

The report was produced after a number of BCI members expressed the belief that COVID-19 could - and would - have a major effect on business continuity systems and processes, as well as changing the way that organizations look at resilience. The subject areas were defined by a series of global focus groups, with the findings of these groups both challenged and corroborated by a global survey of the membership.

Rachael Elliott, Head of Thought Leadership, at The BCI commented: “COVID-19 may have shaken many organizations to their foundations, but it has highlighted the importance of business continuity as being at the core of an organization’s resilience strategy. Professionals are hopeful of greater attention at Board level going forward, and the pandemic has helped to act as a silo-breaker between different departments’ resilience strategies. We don’t have long to act though – respondents believe we have just six months to make these theoretical concepts into actionable processes within organizations before they are forgotten.”

Key findings from the report include:

Better role definition will ensure: less conflict
Many business continuity practitioners felt they were sidelined at the start of the pandemic response when key strategic decisions were being made. Although most practitioners agree that they should not be directly involved in strategic decisions, many feel that strategic decisions should be informed by existing business continuity plans and capability.

Adopting a centralized approach to BC planning is more effective for larger organizations
Many large, diverse or geographically dispersed organizations carry out business continuity planning activities on a site or operational business unit basis and only combine response capabilities at the crisis level. The rationale behind this is that the risk profiles are different and most operational disruptions are localised. However, less than half (46.4 percent) of organizations who carried out business continuity planning on a departmental, site or business unit basis reported their planning for COVID-19 to be a success. This suggests that although this approach allows individual business units to continue operations following local disruptive incidents, the ability of the organization to coordinate an agile response to a wide reaching incident with changing strategic requirements such as COVID-19 is limited. This compares to more than three-quarters (77.2 percent) who planned on an organizational level.

Board level representation is considered a ‘must have’ for many BC professionals
A theme that has repeated across many BCI research reports over recent years is the desire to have a board level representative for business continuity. Frequently, BC is parcelled within another unit, and the requirements of BC become subservient to the department to which it is reporting (such as Risk or IT). Only 33.5 percent of responding organizations have a board member who is responsible for promoting resilience at all levels in the organization.

The elevated position of BC which has been gained as a result of COVID-19 is likely to result in extra departmental resource
95.3 percent of those interviewed are confident of securing extra support for business continuity from a financial or resource perspective post-COVID due to increased awareness of the department by management during the crisis.

Organizational collaboration has increased during COVID-19
Many business continuity professionals reported greater collaboration between BC and other areas such as IT, HR and facilities during COVID-19, and more than three-quarters believe this will continue post-COVID-19. Around half feel there will also be better inter-office and inter-geographic collaboration. By increasing the levels of collaboration, previous silos between departments and other offices can be reduced, fostering a higher level of organizational resilience.

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