How to show return on investment on your business continuity plan

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Current times have proven us that Business Continuity Management (BCM) is a must-have in every organization, and not just an afterthought. In this regard, several past reports have been written on the advantages it brings to organizations. To emphasize the importance of BCM, we recently generated a number of polls on Linkedin to take the pulse of the resilience industry on the subject. We received over 100 different responses across 7 different polls, from highly specialized professionals in various resilience fields. In this article we present the results, showing the gains BCM can bring and how it transcends across different industries in mitigating risks.

All respondents recognize the competitive advantage of BCM among organizations and the majority of them (85%) sees its contribution to the overall goals of the company as substantial. This appreciation mirrors the increasing number of organizations complying with the ISO 22301 framework, which went up from 68% in 2016 to 71% in 2019. In addition, industry research from the Business Continuity Institute reveals that certified companies dealt with fewer disruptive incidents in the previous year.

When asked about the value of BCM in their professional experience, nearly 4 out 10 respondents (38%) reported reduced interruptions or impacts, followed by improved business performances (25%), and stronger corporate culture (25%). A study on continuity and resilience from 2018 revealed how business continuity arrangements ensure faster recovery, the safety and accountability of staff, and reduced disruption costs. The report stated that in those organizations with BCM arrangements professionals tend to be more aware of the consequences of a disruptions.

More than half (53%) of the professionals shared that they engage their top management through crisis scenario simulations. This method, aside from ensuring active participation, helps bridge the gap between theory and practice. It offers close-to-reality opportunities for participants to be fully aware of potential threats, motivating executives to assess their plans, discuss sensible solutions, and improve their resilience levels. Other popular ways to engage the c-suite are workshops (32%) and e-learning courses (16%).
Top management buy-in is crucial to build a successful BCM culture within an organization, as they are the ones with the ability to commit resources to the programme, whether it is people, time, or budget.

Business continuity management software is one of the top technology solutions adopted by most organizations to respond to a crisis. In this specific poll, we asked how BCM software can support organizations when trying to improve their resilience levels. The results showed two main benefits, namely easing responsibility-sharing (40%) and simplifying reporting activities (40%). Two such examples are Clearview Continuity and Everbridge. While the former facilitates the very creation of a business continuity plan through digitization and the automation of processes, the latter guarantees emergency communications are secure and stable even in the least ideal scenarios. As there is increasing talk of human vulnerabilities in the workforce, leveraging the support of software could be of great help for organizations.

The vast majority of respondents (91%) acknowledge the role of BCM in dealing with geopolitical risk, with more than half of them (55%) who go as far as to say that business continuity helps significantly in mitigating geopolitical risk. This mirrors the findings of PANTA RAY’s Geopolitical Risk Report in 2019, as the top reported mitigation measures for this type of threats were business continuity arrangements as well as risk management plans. The study also revealed that those with BCM arrangements reported fewer financial losses among the consequences of disruptions.

Over 8 out of 10 respondents (84%) are aware of the role of BCM in mitigating the impacts of cyber threats, with more than two thirds (68%) considering BCM’s role as significant in reducing cyber risks. In fact, several organizations have started to incorporate business continuity arrangements within their cyber resilience framework, alongside information security, and business operations. Cyber-attacks and data breach remain one of the top concerns among organizations, as the BCI Cyber Resilience Report in 2018 revealed that 66% has experienced cyber disruptions.

All respondents stated they engage all critical suppliers in all tiers to cascade BCM through the supply chain. This is significant news as disruptions occur at all tier levels and with an increasing number of incidents happening in tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers. Moreover, according to the BCI Supply Chain Resilience Report, three quarters of the organizations surveyed have business continuity arrangements in place to deal with supply chain disruptions. Most of them also key suppliers whether they have business continuity plans in place. In fact, others include it in the supplier contractual discussions.

We also asked resilience professionals about whether BCM helped during the current pandemic. Respondents claimed that business continuity management has indeed supported their organization in dealing with COVID-19, with three quarters of them describing it as crucial. According to further industry research, business continuity departments generally took the lead in the initial operational response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the majority of the respondents stated that business continuity arrangements are involved in their organization’s recovery process.