ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 13
Financial Times  

Business continuity planning – BCP

By Damith Kurunduhewa

The great American author Robert A. Schuller presented a trio of motivating marvels among many writings he offered to the world. The first book was “Tough Times Never Last – But Tough People Do!” As the remarkable title of the book suggests, it indeed was a tough one to beat – and virtually was an overnight (literary) hit across the globe few decades ago.

The next book - “Success is Never Ending – Failure is Never Final” again was a spectacular inspirational guidance - gifted to people from all walks of life in all nations. Schuller published his third book under the title of “The World’s Greatest Comebacks” that focuses on real life revival stories of many unsung heroes of our time.

What relevance these inspirational marvels share in common with Corporate Business Continuity Planning? When we objectively look through Schuller’s thought reservoirs, we find that they are all orbiting around a sole point of concentration. He explains it in his own brilliant words - FROM SETBACK TO COMEBACK!!! They primarily boost the sheer determination to spring up through and above the danger. And all contemporary premier businesses need this resilience!

The individual and collective determination to bounce back when we hit the lowest deck is perhaps the MOST important aspect in Business Continuity Planning – BCP. It is this raging determination that leads to precise preparation and truly committed response at all levels of a business in its darkest hour. “We have designed a comprehensive BCP guidance manual that deeply deals with all potential business risks within our (corporate) umbrella width and of course - outside it as well. Yet, BCP is NOT a theory – it’s a versatile motion – tested under high pressure corporate hazard environments.

Therefore, I rate the personal commitment by every associate and stakeholder to resurrect a business during and after a calamity as the number one need”. This is how a managing owner of a corporate BCP perceived the importance of the WILL factor in Business Continuity.

Even though, there were incidents and situations of commerce that demanded a purpose designed business continuity response from time to time, the need of BCP made (some) local impact only after the devastating terrorist bombing that targeted the Central Bank (CBSL) in 1996. Apart from the CBSL, the explosion destroyed few more corporate business structures and business facilities - threatening their uninterrupted service continuance. All this was in addition to the precious lives that the nation prematurely lost forever, due to the worst form of human brutality - Terrorism.

Nevertheless, stretched terrorism is not the executive reason that justifies the management effort for corporate Business Continuity Planning. A routine business operating mode can SUDDENLY be crashed down to a high tide contingency mode due to frequent (other) business calamities. It is ranging from corporate raiding, to regulatory clamps, to colossal credit risks and to production ceases and many more, based on the exclusivity of the business operation.

Gradually, the BCP is becoming a mandatory need of a business, especially when it explores the avenues of linking up with overseas investments, counterparts of developed countries and also seeking global quality benchmarks. It is recently that the CBSL made BCP as a regulatory requirement for banking and financial institutes operating in Sri Lanka - which apparently meant to support the economic steadiness of the state, the related industry, the organization and its stake holders.

The BCP bandwidth does not necessarily shrink to security and safety contingencies of a business. It in fact deals with all potential BUSINESS CONTINGENCIES on a holistic platform - both on corporate and divisional perspectives.

BCP also leaps beyond security contingency planning into a more complex process of business recovery pragmatism. Unlike in a corporate security contingency, often where only one or few business divisions get involved – the BCP in motion – needs the active contribution of the entire business organization (as a whole) upon total application.

A comprehensive (Company Specific) corporate BCP initiative that is closer to a field focused manoeuvre than a table top theory needs to follow the seven layer action phases as seen below:

Apprehension Phase
Design Phase
Preparation Phase
Responding Phase
Recovery Phase
Continuity Phase
Stability Phase

The first benefit for the business is to gain strength to see its weaknesses in the event of a business contingency. The realization of it sets the base for a comprehensive grasp of potential business contingencies that are lined up for the future. It serves as a launching pad to courageously and sensibly face Corporate Tsunamis - that are bound to erupt at some point of the business journey.

On the contrary, the BCP offers the confidence and attracts the “due focus” of the business associates at all layers - not only to have business managing skills only when it is silk smooth, but even when the business is dangerously sailing in the dark rough sea.

Capacity for viable business continuity even in the face of peril is the dream of every stake holder, every business director, every business associate and certainly every loyal customer. The professional BCP initiatives support us to make that dream a rebounding reality and empower us to (calmly) proceed to improve on the worst – not if – WHEN it happens.


Top to the page

Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.