Establish and review the Business Continuity Management Framework and Strategies

Read the following Case Study and answer the questions below:

This was a large scale fire that started late at night and created a disaster zone involving a major shopping complex with multiple tenants.

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What happened?

 The cause was unknown but the fire spread rapidly through the ceiling to envelop the entire block. Nearby premises were extensively damaged not by fire but smoke & water

• Electrical & air-conditioning systems were also destroyed

• The whole area was shut down by Fire Services

• Security guards were called in by property owners to control access

• Staff of businesses affected who tried to visit the site next morning were distraught at what they saw

• Media were quickly on the scene to write their stories for next day papers & were looking for any comments

What went wrong?

1. The building sprinkler system was activated but did little to stop the fire

2. Most media comments were negative for the businesses involved. There was no mention of crisis and continuity plans to quickly restore business activity

3. One tenant who wanted to be anonymous, said “we don’t know what will happen & this will affect our business massively”

4. No “business as usual” statements appeared in the press for subsequent days

What should have happened?

1. The possibility of such a happening should have been foreseen from a simple risk management process involving answers on a) probability, b) severity c) controls

2. Each business should have had a crisis & business continuity plan that had been tested before the event & then relied upon to deal immediately with the crisis

3. Staff should be asked to stay at home & not be allowed to visit the site as distraught staff will only hinder recovery & possibly make emotional statements to press

4. A competent spokesperson should issue a brief and positive message to the media while speculation should not be commented on

5. The existence of adequate insurance should be commented on

6. Alternative premises with adequate resources e.g. computer systems & data back-up should have been considered and resolved in advance of the fire

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR or BC/DR) are closely related practices that describe an organisation’s preparation for unforeseen risks to continued operations. The trend of combining business continuity and disaster recovery into a single term has resulted from a growing recognition that both business executives and technology executives need to be collaborating closely instead of developing plans in isolation.

Questions:

1) From the Case study above, design and develop a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan to minimise the risk of the above case study happening again. Utilise the following six steps;

a)Know your risks- Businesses are at risk from many natural disasters, societal hazards and supply chain disruption.   

   The range of risks includes: bushfire, floods, building fire, criminal activity, staff loss, electrical failure.

b) Conduct a business impact analysis – If you follow this step you will know what critical inputs you need to put in place if your business is affected by a structural or natural disaster.

This involves:

·        Identifying your key products and services

·         Deciding on how long you can stop delivering them

·         Identifying your critical inputs

c) Develop continuity strategies to operate your business- With some forethought you can develop continuity strategies to keep your business operating after a disruption:

  • cross-training staff and skill-sharing
  • hiring equipment
  • borrowing equipment from another business
  • having back-up equipment
  • retaining old equipment when it is replaced
  • practicing manual processes to replace computer systems
  • identifying alternative suppliers
  • having records and forms stored off-site
  • keeping computer back-ups off-site
  • contracting out
  • having insurance policies, contracts and other important documents copied and kept off-site
  • succession planning.

d) Identify communication needs- The success of your business continuity plan may depend on ensuring the right people and organisations are contacted quickly. This will ensure you get the help and support you need to maintain your business. Key contacts you need to include:

  • staff
  • key customers
  • insurance company
  • financial institution
  • supplier
  • alternative suppliers
  • contractors
  • regulator
  • hire companies
  • equipment maintenance companies.

e) Be ready to go- Your contingency strategies will be most successful if you practice them regularly.

Staff will need to be clear on when your continuity plan is to be deployed and know the triggers to start using it. They are most likely to be able to continue working effectively with your contingency strategies if they have practiced them.

It may be helpful to conduct some business continuity exercises. An exercise can be as simple as a discussion about what people would do if a range of situations occurred, such as:

  • the electricity supply is disrupted for two days
  • the computer system fails and will be out of service for a number of days
  • a key supplier closes down at short notice
  • a number of staff are seriously injured in a car accident and will be off work for months
  • your building burns down.

f) Review your plan- As your business grows and changes you will need to revise your business continuity plan. Review it every six months. Most importantly, check telephone numbers.

Remember to keep two copies of your business continuity plan at two different sites in case one is destroyed. 

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