For a second year, extremes of weather have caused widespread disruption amongst survey responders; in particular the cold-snap, with only eight percent of those surveyed saying that it had no effect on their business. This has meant that extreme weather has, for the second year running, been the most persistent disruptive challenge, ahead of IT failure.
Cyber security was included in this year’s survey with a third of all organizations reporting their IT systems being infected, by a virus or malicious software, in the past twelve months. This shows clearly what an important area this is for businesses to be taking steps to reduce vulnerability.
On a more positive note, however, it is satisfying to see that a high percentage of managers stated that the activation of business continuity arrangements had effectively reduced disruption. Also a number of managers said that the investment in business continuity is justified in terms of the benefit that it brings to their business, in particular, in the area of competitive advantage.
With an ever changing environment, businesses face risk on a daily basis. In the past twelve months, we have seen extreme weather, flooding, and transport disruption owing to volcanic ash. For a large number of organizations, these events have had an effect on business as usual. It is almost impossible to prepare separately for each of these risks. This is where business continuity is so valuable, allowing businesses to focus efforts and resources on the impacts that would disrupt activities; not their cause.
It is encouraging to see that organizations are acting upon information in this area, with more organizations reporting this year that they have a business continuity plan in place compared to last. In particular, there has been a notable increase in those smaller organizations that are so significant in the nation’s supply chains and play such an important role in the community during a crisis. The UK Government is looking at ways to make business continuity more accessible for smaller organizations, and work with private sector partners to encourage its adoption.
See Managing Threats in a Dangerous World: The 2011 Business Continuity Management Survey, by Patrick Woodman and Paul Hutchings for the Chartered Management Institute.