LETTERS: Why firms must rethink business continuity


A business meeting. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Businesses across the world are marking the Business Continuity Awareness Week (BCAW) this week (18th – 22nd May 2020). This is an annual global campaign by the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) to raise awareness of the resilience profession and demonstrate the value of effective business continuity management to organisations of all types and sizes. This year's theme is 'we are stronger together' that aims to advance awareness of the importance of collaboration within organizations. The Covid - 19 pandemic has brought a lot of disruptions in many organizations and collaboration and working together has become even more important. Indeed, businesses must rethink their business continuity models if they are survive such disruptions now and in the future. The coronavirus pandemic has brought fore the question of how effective business continuity plan is for most businesses? Today, business are on high alert due to coronavirus that poses huge risks to businesses around the world. Although the global response to this endemic has been swift, there has been concern over the business impacts that the disease will cause eventually. Nevertheless, business continuity here can be described as an establishment’s/business’s ability to ensure operations and core business functions are not severely impacted by a disaster or unplanned incident. Coronavirus poses serious risk to businesses operations. Already, businesses across the world have been impacted significantly by the pandemic. Consequently, business continuity involves planning which is the process of implementing strategies to restore normal business in a set amount of time.

Accordingly, for business continuity to be effective, proper communication is a critical tool. This has come out as major hindrance to business continuity plans for businesses therefore rendering such plans as ineffective.

The disruptions of businesses by Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the weak link between business continuity and the effectiveness of the same during times of crises. Most employees in organisations do not even understand the significance of business continuity thus exposing the lack of proper communication.

Therefore, the importance of being able to clearly communicate information with colleagues, external suppliers and other stakeholders is vital to a business’s ability to recover and minimise disruption. Of critical concern however is that most organisations’ business continuity plans are so fixated on recovering critical systems and people that they often overlook the importance of communication during an incident that prejudices normal business.

Communication is key both for continuing internal operations as well as protecting the company’s reputation. Therefore, to ensure business continuity there are several things one should undertake in order to prepare your organisation for the potential impacts as a result of the coronavirus.

Such include; communicate to your organization’s management about the situation, review and update your business continuity plans/ strategies to reflect the potential risk posed, communicate business continuity-related strategies and procedures to relevant stakeholders. From the foregoing it is clear on the importance of communication in business continuity. Indeed, there cannot be a business continuity plan without effective communication.

Undeniably, one of the major lessons learned from incidents around the world over time is that ongoing communication both internally and externally is normally poor.

Designating key people to oversee communications during an event will save valuable time in a recovery effort, as well as salvage the company’s reputation to the public and to stakeholders. It is imperative to maintain proper communication with leadership and employees to circulate information about the situation at hand to allow smooth and competent recovery effort.

Ensuring the employees know the nature of the situation, how to act, and where to be and when, are critical elements to making certain that everyone is on the same page and that valuable time is not lost. Further, assigning key personnel to handle external communication during an emergency is supreme. It is significant to make employees aware that only approved company personnel should speak externally regarding official company business. Additionally, sample media statements/releases should be documented in the company’s business continuity plan in a way that is easily customizable to the nature of the event. Information should be accurate and only shared when authenticated.

Bernard Kimani, communication specialist and certified public relations analyst Nairobi Kenya