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Business Continuity Management

By Armand Cacacho, FICD


The following article is an excerpt from a lecture that I delivered at Asian Institute of Management (AIM) on the subject of Business Continuity Management. The lecture was very relevant as we were in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic when I was invited by the President of AIM to give this lecture.


Every organization whether for profit or non-profit should have a business continuity program and plan. The Covid-19 pandemic caught the whole world by surprise. For those organizations that did not have a business continuity program, they struggled to keep their operations going while many others simply could not pivot and closed shop. This became a global business and economic problem that was created by the pandemic.


In this article, I will define continuity, talk about the importance of continuity planning for organizations, the “whole community” approach, continuity program management, the key elements of a continuity program, and finally, the four phases of continuity.


Continuity is the ability to provide uninterrupted services and support before, during, and after an incident that disrupts normal operations.1 Having a continuity plan will help your organization navigate its activities when an emergency happens such as the Covid-19 global pandemic. A continuity plan is part of a more comprehensive continuity program that all organizations should have in place.




Whole Community Approach




What does the chart above mean?

The chart above shows the importance of the interconnected nature of continuity. This means that each person and organization serve as a crucial link in a chain of activities that enable the execution of an organization’s essential functions. Thus, if every part of a community has a good continuity program, then the whole community becomes more resilient.


What are Essential Functions?

Essential functions are organizational functions that are critical for the execution of a company’s operations. These are functions that are absolutely required for a company to do in order to execute its mission. If needed, business continuity planners can use activity system mapping techniques and essential functions can be used to identify supporting activities or tasks and resources.


Continuity Program Management

A comprehensive business continuity program helps prepare organizations and improve continuity plans. Depending on who is designated as the responsible business continuity manager in your organization, continuity programs are usually managed by Continuity Program Managers and supported and implemented through Continuity Planners and Working Groups. Working Groups can consist of representatives from each division e.g., IT, facilities, leadership, finance, HR, and logistics. These groups follow a program management framework to develop and maintain capabilities in order to carry out their tasks.



Four Steps in Implementing Continuity Program Management 2


Continuity Program Elements 3

The following are the standard elements of a business continuity program. However, an organization may incorporate its own unique elements.

1) Program Management Plans, and Procedures

A business continuity program helps prepare organizations and improves continuity plans. An organization’s continuity plan serves to document its strategies, policies, and procedures required to support its program. Business continuity planning is a process to document and ensure an organization’s capability to execute essential functions during emergencies.

2) Essential Functions

As discussed above, essential functions are organizational functions that are critical for the execution of a company’s operations.

3) Orders of Succession

This is a sequential listing of positions within the organization that identifies who is authorized to assume a leadership role if the incumbent is unable to perform his/her duties.

4) Delegation of Authority

This should be done in writing as this serves as the legal authorization to act on behalf of management or other organization leaders to carry out specific tasks.

5) Communications and Information Systems

The organization should have resilient communication and information systems that can be accessed from alternate locations other than the organization’s primary location.

6) Essential Records Management

Essential records are those records that an organization needs in order to continue its operations during an emergency.

7) Alternate Locations

These locations can be fixed, mobile, or transportable locations, other than the primary location, where leadership and business continuity personnel can operate in order to carry out essential functions after a continuity plan is activated.

8) Human Resources

These are the personnel identified to perform essential functions during and after a continuity plan is activated.

9) Devolution

This is an organization’s ability to transfer authority and responsibility from a primary operating facility and personnel to alternate locations and other designated personnel in order to carry out essential functions.

10) Reconstitution

This is where an organization’s focus is on returning to normal operations. This process normally starts when an incident happens or soon after its conclusion.

11) Test, Training and Exercise

These are activities designed to familiarize, build skills, and ensure that the continuity plan supports the continued execution of an organization’s essential functions.



Four Phases of Business Continuity 4

1) Readiness & Preparedness

Develop your organization’s continuity plan, review, and revise as necessary to incorporate continuous improvement. You need to conduct testing, training, and exercise activities to ensure that the plan is executed properly.

2) Activation

This pertains to the activation of a continuity plan to enable continued execution of essential functions during an incident. The following items are really important during this phase: alert and notification systems, accountability of personnel, and relocating to alternate facility, if necessary.

3) Operations

The organization implements the business continuity plan strategies to ensure that the essential functions are executed with minimal disruption. Staff members may operate from an alternate location and staff may have different assignments or schedules.

4) Reconstitution

As mentioned above, this refers to returning to normal operations. It may involve returning to the original facility, staffing and schedules, or to a new facility.



The discussions above are a simplified presentation of basic Business Continuity Management. There are certainly more topics around this subject that need to be addressed. It is my hope that I have given you some basic information that you can use to start your business continuity planning journey and hope that you realize the importance of continuity planning. By taking action now, you and your organization will be more prepared and resilient for the next emergency whatever it may be.



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References

  1. https://emilms.fema.gov/is_1300/groups/81.html

  2. https://emilms.fema.gov/is_1300/groups/81.html

  3. https://emilms.fema.gov/is_1300/groups/81.html

  4. https://emilms.fema.gov/is_1300/groups/81.html


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About the Author



Armand Cacacho, FICD is an international management consultant who has served as a board member of both for-profit and non-profit organizations in the U.S.A. and in the Philippines.


He has been on the Advisory Boards of technology startups in the U.S.A. and Australia. In addition, he was an entrepreneur for 17 years in California with successful exit and an executive of Fortune 200 global engineering companies for many years.


He has lectured at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Executive Masters Program, California State University East Bay College of Business MBA Program, ASEAN Science Diplomats Lecture Series Program, and has been serving as Mentor to Stanford University engineering and management graduate students since 2015.


He specialized in Business Strategy and Innovation at Stanford Graduate School of Business and completed additional postgraduate program in Disruptive Strategy and Innovation at Harvard Business School. A graduate of B.S. Civil Engineering at U.S.T. and licensed Professional Engineer in the U.S.A., he is a Fellow and Teaching Faculty member of the Institute of Corporate Directors PH, and a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors U.S.A., and Singapore Institute of Directors.


He can be reached at armandcacacho@gmail.com.

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