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BCI Comment: Adopting good practice

by Brian Sims

In a recent column for Risk UK, Lyndon Bird of the BCI discussed the need for good practice. He stated, ‘The Business Continuity Institute (BCI) recently released the 5th edition of the Good Practice Guidelines (GPG). The 2013 version is the most comprehensive yet, building on the success of the publication which started life back in 2002. Some people have asked why, with both national and international standards for Business Continuity now available, the guide is still needed. ‘It is true that the publication is no longer the sole provider of serious subject matter content in the BC field, but it remains the most independent view of current thinking. The real value is that unlike standards, it discusses not just ‘what to do’ but also the ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘when’ of practices written by real-world experts. It aims to enhance and complement emerging standards in the related fields of crisis management, incident management, emergency planning, organisational resilience and GRC (governance, risk and compliance). ‘The BCI claims that although it is primarily for BC professionals, it also has the flexibility to identify future trends, challenges and issues that wider industry practitioners are still debating. Regardless of the methodology used, most BC professionals would accept the need for the base principles of risk management. Every organisation faces potentially catastrophic threats that are outside of their control, particularly natural disasters such as floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.. ‘There may be some physical measures that can be put in place to reduce the likelihood of such events causing major loss, such as installing flood barriers, but the only fundamental way in which these risks can be treated is to take measures to reduce the impact on the organization if the threat occurs. The classic approach is to take out insurance, but to be effective this needs to be augmented by a BCM programme. A risk management programme should identify catastrophic threats that are outside of the organisation’s control and a BCM programme is one way to reduce the impact of such events. ‘When an organisation implements a BCM programme it will undertake a business impact analysis (BIA) and one of the deliverables from the BIA will be an understanding of the most urgent activities undertaken by the organisation. These are the activities that would impact the organisation the most if they were disrupted. ‘The BCM programme will identify and implement strategies to enable these activities to be recovered before the impact of their disruption becomes intolerable, but it will also identify measures that can be put in place to reduce the chances of the urgent activities being disrupted, and it will quantify the resulting impact on the organisation. ‘Risk assessments that are undertaken as part of a BCM programme are usually at an operational level as they are concerned with the disruption of activities. They can complement the risk assessments undertaken as part of a risk management programme, which are often undertaken at an enterprise level. The overlap between BC and risk management provides an organisation with the opportunity to strengthen its resilience, but this will only happen if the management of two disciplines is effectively co-ordinated.’

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