by Paul Quealey
Looking back, I would be surprised if there are many businesses that believe they were sufficiently well planned for the COVID-19 pandemic.
While ‘Business Management and Economics in a Pandemic’ was not an elective I remember studying at University or in the Chartered Accountancy program (I will admit it was a few years ago so I can’t be certain it wasn’t offered), the principles of Business Continuity Management should prepare a business for almost any situation.
Business Continuity Planning
Having a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) includes ensuring the business clearly defines:
- Who are the critical personnel to recommencing the business in the event of a disaster
- Acceptable timeframes from disaster to recovery
- Infrastructure and IT needs in the event of a disaster
- Alternate work site locations and remote workplaces
- Communications across the workforce in the event of internet and telecommunication outages during a disaster.
Our Experience at Lambourne Partners
The need to plan out all the above was staring us in the face for years, with so many best practice guides (e.g. ISO 22301 – Business Continuity) and us advising our own clients on how best to prepare for the unexpected. However, at Lambourne Partners we are the first to admit that our BCP was not as strong as it could have been. While I believe our BCP protected our business and ensured we continued to provide our clients with the required services they needed in a timely and professional manner, we too were at the mercy of extended freight times for purchases, equipment back orders and remote working testing on the run – as is always the way, do as I say rather than as I do.
However, we have decided to turn this mantra on its head, and through our learnings we are redefining our BCP to cover:
- Ensuring staff are fully equipped for remote working, attempting to replicate their office workstations at their homes
- Defining each employee’s role in the event of a disaster and identifying those key personnel for business restoration
- Ensuring IT systems and processes are robust to operate in as many plausible scenarios as possible
- Quantifying the maximum ‘outage and recovery times’ the business is willing to accept in the event of a disaster, without impacting our service delivery and our clients
- Redefining our communication methods in the event of various disaster scenarios.
Too many business owners and managers believe business continuity is isolated to backups of servers managed by IT personnel (either internally or externally). BCP is so much more, with the IT systems being a mere drop in the BCP ocean. Without the right people, in the right location, with the right communication and infrastructure, the restoration and use of restored IT systems are redundant. The restoration of IT systems is traditionally one of the final tasks to be completed when rolling out a BCP.
Having worked with so many clients in trying to consider every ‘black swan’ event that could impact their business, not once can I remember social lockdown as a result of a global pandemic being considered. Earthquakes, floods, fires and even meteoroids were all being considered, but not a global pandemic. This is even in the wake of the SARS virus in 2003, or even the Spanish Flu in Australia in 1919.
So the question is, is your business ready for the next severe acute respiratory syndrome and the fallout of another global pandemic?
Make Sure Your Business Has a BCP
If your Business Continuity Plan could need a review to test its effectiveness in the event of a disaster, or assistance in setting your BCP goal state, or even assistance establishing a BCP in the first place, please contact Paul Quealey in the form below or call 0472 696 660.