Crisis Management: Why Boards Need to Focus on Business Continuity Plans

by Alexandrea Roman on September 3, 2013 and last updated on September 12, 2018

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In the face of fires, hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, epidemics, terrorist attacks, cyber hacks, and other large-scale disasters, your organization’s resources can be severely affected within a matter of days, or in some cases, a matter of seconds. Is your organization prepared for such disruptive events? When there’s so much at stake, you need a business continuity plan (BCP) to ensure your organization’s continued survival even in the midst of the direst scenarios.

BCP is another term for disaster recovery plan. In a BCP, the threats to an organization are identified, along with the ways to address them as soon as the need arises. The aim of a BCP is to maintain system integrity, service quality, and competitive advantage in spite of skeletal operations and extreme conditions.

Although crises don’t happen all the time, the possibility that they can occur — however small the chances — should not be ignored. To put things in perspective, here are the losses a few companies incurred after going through major crises:

  • Cantor Fitzgerald, an American financial services firm, was headquartered on floors 101 to 105 of One World Trade Center in New York City. On Sept. 11, 2001, the day of the Twin Tower attacks, the firm lost 658 of its employees died, or more than 66 percent of its workforce.
  • Sony, a Japanese multinational conglomerate, was affected by the tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011. Its manufacturing plant in Sendia got awashed with debris, mud, and waves of water, halting electronics production.
  • Sony also lost a staggering $171 million dollars after a huge security risk with their PlayStation Network. Hackers gained access to the network’s users’ personal information, such as login credentials, full names, birthdays, home addresses, email addresses, and credit card information.
  • The hotel Trump SoHo lost $2.3 million dollars in the four days that power was out after Hurricane Sandy hit the area. Guests paying $700 a night pulled out after not getting the pampering they expected from the fancy hotel.

It’s commendable if your organization already has a strong and updated BCP in place, but if it doesn’t, then your board of directors should start working with the CEO and other C-suite managers on an effective contingency plan right away. A sound BCP focuses on these three Ps:

Properties

  1. What assets are at the highest risk of being affected in a crisis?
  2. What are the most important assets that need to be secured first?
  3. Which assets need to have duplicates in case of an emergency?
  4. Which resources are absolutely critical for business to go on?
  5. Where can data be stored to ensure its safety at all times?

Processes:

  1. What processes are the most crucial?
  2. How can procedures be altered or adjusted in adverse conditions?
  3. Where can operations continue if the original location is inaccessible or unavailable?
  4. How will clients, customers, and stakeholders be informed if processes need to be temporarily stopped?
  5. How long can the organization suspend business operations without incurring unsustainable losses?

People:

  1. Who can perform the tasks necessary to carry on operations if majority of the employees are unable to work?
  2. Does the organization have enough skilled employees to take over tasks for their colleagues?
  3. What kind of psychological effects will the crisis leave on the employees?
  4. How can you help employees cope with the after-effects of the crisis?
  5. How can leaders communicate with one another and with their employees?

Knowing the answers to these questions will put your organization on the right track to having a sold BCP. But of course, the most important thing your organization needs is proactive leadership at the top. In a crisis, people inevitably turn to leaders for the next thing to do. Board directors and C-suite managers should show resilience and flexibility to keep up morale. Because in a crisis, properties and processes matter, but not as much as people do.

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Stay connected with your board even even in the middle of a disaster! All you’ll need is a smartphone or tablet, Internet connection, and an electronic board meeting solution like Convene. When the going gets tough, communication is a must.

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About Alexandrea Roman

Alexandrea is a social media specialist and blogger for Convene.

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