Rather than dealing with disturbances as they occur, the focus of a business continuity plan or business continuity planning (BCP) is to ensure there are no disruptions or ‘breaks’ in operations. Do corporates realise the business strengths this can bring?
According to the CMI 2012 Business Continuity Management (BCM) survey, adoption of BCM continues to rise demonstrating a solid increase in uptake over the past two years, with 61% of managers now reporting that their company has some form of BCM in place. While BCP involves the planning of continuity measures, BCM is concerned with the control and management of these measures.
Elize Rushton, Treasury Systems Manager at SABMiller believes that business continuity planning is high on the priority list for the corporate treasurer. In fact, it is imperative for treasurers to ensure that a number of essential functions that allow them to work effectively are not hindered by disruptions.
“The corporate treasurer and his external business relationships, not to mention his ability to transact with banks and markets, are impacted by the company’s perceived risks. The corporate treasurer and his team are also highly dependent on access to trading platforms, bank accounts and funds which is achieved mainly through technology,” she says.
So the treasurer may be aware of the importance of BCM, and the support it can provide to companies in maintaining levels of productivity, accuracy and service while dealing with whatever event that may occur. But with so many priorities on the list and countless risk techniques employed in numerous other areas of the business, spending lots of money on implementing a BCP may not sound attractive without highlighting the more intangible paybacks.
Of those organisations that activated a BCP in the past 12 months, 81% of managers questioned in the CMI study agreed that it had effectively reduced the impact of any disruption. Even more importantly for the benefit of building a business case for senior managers, the same proportion – regardless of organisation size or sector – granted that the cost of developing a BCP is outweighed by the benefits it brings. Some of those benefits include:
Improving business resilience.
Meeting customer requirements.
Fulfilling statutory/regulatory demands.
Developing risk awareness in-house.
Rather than look on BCM as ‘expenditure’ or a ‘box to be ticked’, what is at stake without a plan – and the competitive advantages that BCM can bring – need to be highlighted in the business case.
Yet, regardless of how far your technology budget can stretch to in terms of complexity and cutting-edge equipment, the crucial point is that each site under the same group ‘umbrella’ is employing the same processes on the same systems. “The corporate must ensure that this consistency of systems, processes and policy is standard across treasury teams and functions and its regions [like a franchise]. It’s much easier to control, it’s much easier to execute and it’s much easier to cover in terms of BCM,” believes Katarzyna Stefanska-Balos, Treasury Operations Manager at Colgate Palmolive.
Furthermore, it is important to remember that business continuity means different things to different corporates so it is important to build and integrate a plan that fits well with the existing company culture. Determining what functions are most important to the various departments – not only treasury – can be a great place to start, whilst also involving the entire organisation in the process.
For more on this topic, see the ‘Business Continuity’ story in the Treasury Practice section of the June issue of Treasury Today.