Op-Ed: Rethinking Business Continuity Plans

Op-Ed: Rethinking Business Continuity Plans
Derek Smith Jr, CAMS

Throughout this series, Compliance officer Derek Smith will address key aspects of a robust Business Continuity Plan (BCP) inclusive of how to develop a BCP, identifying what internal and external factors should be considered in its implementation, and corporate governance surrounding BCPs.

by Derek Smith Jr, CAMS

Unfortunately, the thought of business continuity plans (‘BCP’) seemed a novel idea only months ago for many businesses. Most businesses felt that disaster recovery plans geared toward managing the impacts of hurricanes were sufficient – COVID-19 has proven that many business owners and operators may have fallen short in their preparations.

Don’t be alarmed. If you have not heard the acronym BCP before, its simply a strategic management process aimed at minimizing the social and economic fallout in a company due to disruptions in normal business activities.  The lack of preparedness was manifested in laptop inventory in many of the approved technology vendors being depleted in anticipation of imminent curfews and lock-downs.

Conversely, for the financial services industry BCPs are mandated after the attacks of September 11th. Locally, BCP guidelines were issued by The Central Bank of The Bahamas (‘CBOB’) more than a decade ago, in 2007 and then revised in 2008.

The CBOB explained at the time that ‘these guidelines were released to assist in improving the safety and soundness of its licensees, by allowing them to better manage disasters’.

The reality is simple – businesses must rethink their BCPs or risk being dramatically impacted negatively or worst, become insolvent. Business owners must ask themselves several key questions:

  1. Have we conducted adequate risk assessments to appreciate the vulnerabilities and threats to our most critical resources and activities?
  2. Have we identified BCP leads and teams?
  3. Have we identified, documented, socialized with key stakeholders the BCP and tested it?
  4. Have we conducted training for the business continuity teams?
  5. Have we reviewed and updated our Crisis Communication toolkits?

The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to test BCPs and business leaders cannot afford to wait to strategize, but instead must constantly assess, adapt and act:

  1.  Assess which aspects of their plans are working and which need to be tweaked.
  2. Adapt to unconventional forms of doing business to minimize revenue lost and additional expenses.
  3. Act decisively while always considering and balancing their employee’s well-being with operational realities.