May 17 kicks off an important week—it’s Business Continuity Awareness Week (BCAW), a week led by the BCI and sponsored by Riskonnect (formerly Castellan), where we celebrate and encourage the spread of business continuity awareness to organizations worldwide.

Like many milestones, this week is a wonderful time to pause and look back on all the things we’ve done well, what we’ve learned from our mistakes, and how much change—even in just the past year—influences business continuity as we know it.

If I were writing this blog a few years ago, it would likely be much different than the one I’m writing today. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has changed much of what we thought we knew about operational resilience at all levels of our organizations, but it’s more than that.

Business continuity isn’t just about pandemic preparedness or surviving an outbreak. True organizational resilience is about ensuring your organization is always prepared to respond to any type of disruption­—at any time—that can affect the delivery of your key products and services, and your relationships with your clients, employees, key stakeholders, and the public at large.

Business Continuity Awareness Week 2021 is a great time to draw on the lessons we’ve learned from COVID-19 response and keep business continuity moving forward within your organization.

Here are 7 ways you can raise business continuity awareness within your organization today, with lasting effects that will benefit your program for years to come:

  1. Business continuity is not a project and shouldn’t be treated as one. Instead, cultivate a culture where business continuity is built in your organization. Approach it as you would other areas such as health and safety. Explain to your team members why it’s important, what their roles are, and how working together ensures organizational success. Remember, projects are one-offs. You can set them and forget them. Business continuity doesn’t fall into this category.
  2. Ensure your business continuity program has executive support. You can build buy-in by engaging with your senior executives and key stakeholders such as board members. Find out what matters to them and put plans in place to protect that. Speak a language they understand that addresses your organisations goals and objectives. Seek out contributions from various people at all levels of leadership (don’t forget the ever-important influence of your managers in the middle) so you’ll have more traction building a culture of understanding business continuity’s true value and encouraging organisational-wide buy-in.
  3. True operational resilience comes from teams who work together. While you may be the owner of your business continuity program, it’s not a weight to carry to the finish line by yourself. Work with managers throughout your organisation to build a culture where they’re confident in managing their business continuity documentation (with frequent reviews, testing, exercises, and updates), as well as incident response. Remember, your role as a business continuity manager is to educate your partners so they are capable of doing this. It’s like the old adage of, “Teach a [person] to fish, and you feed [them] for a lifetime.”
  4. Employ business continuity management software that facilitates program automation for more efficiencies and to decrease the chance of oversight or human errors. Let your software handle the day-to-day stuff for you (for example, sending out business impact analysis (BIA) review reminders), so you can focus on identifying areas for improvement, which will result in increased program maturity over time.
  5. Offer employee incentives where possible. Acknowledge and reward employees who embrace business continuity responsibilities while still handling their regular job requirements. For example, if team members spend 10% of their time on business continuity management tasks, consider linking 10% of their bonuses to their key continuity deliverables. If you can’t reward your key players financially, the little stuff adds up over time, too. For example, you can make it a priority to bring along plenty of treats to exercises or other meetings they attend.
  6. Continuously demonstrate the value of your business continuity program. There aren’t many other programs that analyze all parts of an organisation like business continuity. You will hear and see things as part of this program that you can change or improve, not just in terms of business continuity but also your organisations day-to-day processes.
  7. Ensure everyone involved in your business continuity program—from key stakeholders and executives through employees—understand their business continuity roles and responsibilities. Refresh with training and routine reminders. Don’t just expect them to intuitively know what you need from them, tell them, and document your expectations.

We hope you have a wonderful Business Continuity Awareness Week and that these tips play a role in helping you build more awareness this week and for the future. If you need more help, or have questions about building a culture that supports operational resilience, reach out to a Riskonnect advisor today. We’re happy to help.