Digitisation and business continuity have become the critical business drivers of sustainability, growth and long-term success. They are the foundations of business resilience, as McKinsey points out, it is resilience that has become a ‘critical prerequisite for corporate performance’ in a world that’s uncertain at best, volatile at worst.

At a time when many companies are still trying to find their digital feet, those that put continuity and digitisation at the forefront of strategy are those most likely to recover from disruption and disaster.

Weaving the golden threads of digitisation and business continuity through the very fabric of the organisation, companies are doing more than ticking boxes and shoring up defences – they’re reducing risks and improving internal processes. A robust business continuity strategy means reduced legal and financial exposure and ensures that your business can keep operating during and after an incident.

“Business continuity planning can help you keep your business trading, recover operations more quickly after an interruption, and reduce the costs and duration of disruption,” says Princess Bam, Business Manager at World Wide Industrial Systems Engineers (WWISE). “During an emergency people shouldn’t have to wonder who’s in charge or what the processes are, they should know exactly what steps to follow and how to ensure the safety and wellbeing of employees while mitigating the impact on the business.”

It’s critical for companies to have accountability, planning, continuity and strategy in 2022/23 and to keep these as a priority moving forward. It is a lesson that has been hard learned over the past three years. During the pandemic, many companies didn’t have a plan for working from home nor did they have the processes in place that they needed to handle a pandemic as a whole. The sudden and urgent onslaught of COVID-19 saw digitised organisations leap forward with playbooks built on digital foundations while others, still vacillating around digital transformation strategies, had to hurry up to catch up.

Today, most companies have leapt on board the digital train but now is the time to put processes in place that shift digital from a rapid investment to ensure operations in an emergency to a strategic value-add that maintains business continuity. A business continuity system aligned with ISO 22301:209 provides the business with a framework for contingency plans related to disasters and common disruptions to businesses and provides solutions that can be simulated, tested and acted on. This ISO 22301 standard assists organisations in responding to disruptive incidents and helps them to continue operations throughout.

With this ISO standard embedded as an operational framework, the organisation can develop robust response and recovery procedures that align with its unique operating conditions and expectations. The standard is designed to assist the business in developing a framework that’s all about effective incident management while providing guidelines for recovery procedures that ensure rapid recovery. It ensures that the business has allocated a clearly defined team so everyone knows who is to do what in the event of an emergency, and that it has prepared a detailed plan that has been effectively tested. The ISO also provides stability and support in developing robust crisis communications, employee safety, uninterrupted access to business resources and continuous IT operations.

“The requirements specified in ISO 22301:2019 are wide-ranging and intended for all types of organisations,” says Bam. “It assesses your organisation’s ability to meet your business continuity needs and obligations while helping to protect you from unexpected occurrences, whether these occurrences are your IT system, equipment failure, a natural disaster, or industrial action. You need to know that you can continue to deliver your products and services at an acceptable level of capacity regardless of disruption and this is where the ISO helps you create a robust strategy and enhance your resilience.”

The best practice steps for implementing this ISO starts with using a consultancy service that can assist in establishing how the framework fits within your business and how it can address your unique operational requirements. This usually follows a four-step approach that’s broken down into: phase one with a gap analysis audit and information gathering; phase two with ISO documentation, risk assessments and process mapping; phase three follows implementation and coaching; and phase four concludes with certification.