What is Business Resilience?
Category : Preparedness
What Is Business Resilience?
I am often asked ‘What is business resilience’?
A lot of people aren’t sure what it means and that isn’t surprising as it’s a relatively new term and most small businesses and startups don’t factor it into their business planning. This, I believe is a mistake, especially for a start-up or a business undergoing some kind of restructuring as these times are the ideal opportunity to ensure your business processes are robust.
So, let’s try to unpack what business resilience is. In this article, I will list some of the elements that combine to make a resilience strategy for businesses. These are the main elements but, in order to keep this post reasonably brief, there are a lot more than I mention here such as compliance, finance etc. Each of these elements is an area of specialisation that has experts who deal with them and them alone. The trick that the resilience consultant has to do is to have an understanding of all of these specialist areas and then pull them all together into an overarching strategy, making sure the business is resilient to whatever challenges come its way.
Business resilience is about running your business in a way that addresses the risks of failure. Being aware of and controlling those risks allows for better efficiencies and more robust systems for running your company. The purpose of this blog is to help those who aren’t quite sure what it means to have a better understanding of why they really ought to consider investing in business resilience.
Business Continuity Management
Many people will be familiar with Business Continuity Management (BCM). It’s an industry that’s been around for many years and is concerned with looking at how your business will recover from disruptive incidents such as a flood or fire and making a plan to deal with the impacts. It is still a really important part of looking at resilience and has its place in planning for the unexpected. In the olden days, we used to call the result of BCM planning a Contingency Plan, which describes pretty much what it was and what it did. It told us what to do when the wheels fell off but it doesn’t really help avoid the incident having an impact in the first place. We need something more holistic to do that.
Crisis management is another area of expertise but a lot of people misunderstand the term because it isn’t a particularly descriptive name. Crisis management is about what you do when your brand is affected by an adverse event, let’s say your product has been implicated in harming someone. Clearly, there are all the things you have to do to when something like this happens, test the product, withdraw it from circulation etc but the bit we call
crisis management is the bit where you set about to reassure your customers, the public, the regulator or any other interested parties that your company will investigate, find
out what the problem is and put it right. In short, it’s reputation management. With everyone having access to social media it is extremely important that you can react instantly to a crisis and the only way you are going to do that is by having a robust, practised and well-tested plan.
For more on crisis management, you could have a look at another post I did earlier.
Resilience is all about risk management. It’s about mapping out the risks to the business and finding ways of mitigating them. Large companies refer to Integrated Risk Management and invest a great deal of time, money and energy into trying to draw all of the risks together and manage them. It’s difficult because large corporations tend to focus and resource on whatever is niggling them at the time, new regulation, new product lines etc.
What does the resilience consultant do?
One of the roles of a resilience professional is to help people map out their processes and look for areas of vulnerability, spot the risks and think of ways of mitigating them. Much of the time we can get rid of the risk entirely with good planning. This is what resilience is about, not just about what we do when things go wrong (and they will) but what we do to prevent them going wrong in the first place. It’s about planning for the consequences and not the causes. The cause of the telecoms outage is secondary to the impact it has on your business and business resilience is how you continue to offer your services or products to your customers despite the unexpected.
What does Business Resilience Cost?
The government is pushing the ‘resilience’ agenda for all businesses and communities, and my mission is to make it accessible and affordable so small businesses will have access to the same level of advice as large companies. In many ways, it’s easier because a small business isn’t as complex as a large corporation and that’s why it will be more affordable than you think to ensure your business is set up to deal with whatever comes your way. I have written a blog about expected costs, you can find it here.