After a pandemic year like 2020—and 2021—executives get the importance of business continuity planning. The situation was the same in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. And in 2012, after Hurricane Sandy. And after mass shooting incidents. Management has a heightened sense of why business continuity is necessary. Then, the memories fade. The urgency diminishes as everyday business problems surface.
If you need to introduce business continuity thinking to your organization, indeed, now is the time. But you still must be thoughtful in your approach. Judicious framing of the business case still matters to your busy C-suite.
Consider these tips to ensure you get executive support for your continuity endeavors:
- Detail the key reasons why a company embarks on a business continuity journey. The reasons for business continuity planning center on a few needs. For example, external regulatory requirements prompt planning in the financial and healthcare industries. In some cases, continuity planning is a customer requirement of business, such as when you seek government contracts. Disruption could adversely affect your supply chain, customers, employees, or brand, and your business can suffer financially through loss of revenue or fines.
- Get clear on what is critical to your organization. A business impact analysis helps you gain a deeper understanding of your business processes and organization’s principal mission and aims. Use this knowledge to highlight the key parts of your business and supply chain that need attention and money in a crisis.
- Align your business continuity plan with the business. Present a plan that covers the entire organization, not just IT or one department. Think about company-wide strategic objectives and show how business continuity supports them. Executives view the company through the filter of governance, risk, and compliance. Your business impact analysis can help address their concerns.
- Don’t lose them in jargon. Management may be familiar with ISO 22301 and ISO 27031 if ISO compliance is a business condition. Otherwise, the terms and tactics of implementing a program will be more noise in an executive’s ear. Ground the discussion on how business continuity can support overall business efforts. However, do be prepared for a tactical conversation. Some CEOs like to get their hands dirty.
- It’s not all about you. You can’t be the lone voice for business continuity and then expect others to take ownership for continuity outcomes. Ask internal stakeholders for their opinions on why business continuity matters—or doesn’t. Get customer insights into how disruption in your company can impact their success. If there’s a senior management team member who might have a particular interest in business continuity, approach them to see if you can earn their support before presenting to the rest of the c-suite or the board.
- Insurance doesn’t pay for everything. Operations-focused management may not realize that business insurance policies usually cover only loss or damage to equipment and inventory. Most do not cover loss of profits. Even business interruption insurance is typically capped at $30,000 per incident, which could be far less than you need to maintain business. And during COVID-19 at least, it seems that many legal challenges to denial of payment failed. Explain to leadership that a robust business continuity plan can help you secure better insurance terms. More than that, a plan can help your business resume producing products and services, help you keep customers from finding new suppliers, and maintain your business’s reputation and customer loyalty.
- Business continuity planning offers a competitive advantage. A tried and tested business continuity plan shows suppliers and customers that you care. You are a vital link in their business continuity planning. What’s more, the Business Continuity Institute notes that in 2019 the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) wrote to financial institutions to warn against business continuity planning gaps in contracts with third-party technical providers.
- Nobody wants to make decisions on the fly. Sometimes it’s necessary to ad lib in a crisis. But even executives don’t want to make all decisions under duress. And decisions made in the heat of the moment aren’t always the best. As the army says, “Drill and discipline overcome fear and fatigue.” Use business continuity planning to save some of the stress of crisis management.
- Business continuity planning is part of governance. Business continuity plans build the path to survivability. Whether your business is regulated or not, your top leadership must demonstrate to customers, investors, auditors, and regulators that your company can quickly return to normal and thrive in the long term.
- Make a strong, clear case. Get in and get out. The C-suite are busy people with many responsibilities. Lay the groundwork for a solid business case. Think about what their main objections might be, like cost or effort to implement, and research your answers. Then go in and speak with confidence. Be clear on what your CEO may need to know to be successful.
The only other issue to consider is that leaders often fight the last war or disaster. No one can tell exactly when the next crisis will hit or what it will be. What you can do is focus people’s attention on securing your critical processes and infrastructure. Then your organization is able to face anything.
Everyone wants their organization to succeed in times of crisis. Still, business continuity leaders often have other duties, which makes it hard to find time to focus on business continuity planning. A trusted advisor and strategic partner specializing in crisis management, business continuity, disaster recovery, and crisis communications can be invaluable as your business continues to grow and risks change and increase — Bryghtpath LLC can keep your business on track and secure.
If we can help you build a better business case for your business continuity program, don’t hesitate to contact us.