Busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity crit­i­cal

Finweek English Edition - - Ict - Allen Smith

SMEs are gen­er­ally also not well ed­u­cated about busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity. THE OLD ADAGE about back­ups and dis­as­ter re­cov­ery plans only mat­ter­ing when data loss has al­ready occurred still holds true. Allen Smith, CEO of Con­ti­nu­ity SA says in the com­pany’s ex­pe­ri­ence most South African small to medium-sized com­pa­nies have lit­tle or no busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity and dis­as­ter re­cov­ery plans in place. “And those that do of­ten as­sume run­ning back­ups on their server is all they need to ef­fec­tively man­age the risks their com­pa­nies are ex­posed to,” Smith says.

Things couldn’t be far­ther from the truth. Iron­i­cally, Smith says SME com­pa­nies ac­tu­ally need busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity strate­gies more than their en­ter­prise coun­ter­parts do. “When large com­pa­nies suf­fer a dis­as­ter they usu­ally have the money avail­able to re­cover and con­tinue op­er­a­tions quickly. How­ever, SMEs gen­er­ally don’t have the money to spare and a dis­as­ter can eas­ily lead to the ul­ti­mate fail­ure of the com­pany.”

Fur­ther­more, Smith says SMEs are gen­er­ally also not well ed­u­cated about busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity. “Be­cause of their lim­ited spending ca­pac­ity, large con­ti­nu­ity ser­vice providers are un­likely to spend the time re­quired to ed­u­cate them,” he says. The re­sult is that SME man­agers are likely to judge their need for busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity from a cost ver­sus im­me­di­ate re­turn per­spec­tive.

“The chal­lenge for the SME mar­ket is that man­agers and own­ers spend their time fo­cus­ing on the gen­er­a­tion of rev­enue and keep­ing their heads above wa­ter. Risk man­age­ment is some­thing done when time and money per­mit,” Smith says. Where larger com­pa­nies are forced to pay at­ten­tion to risk man­age­ment due to their need for reg­u­la­tory com­pli­ance, both in terms of na­tional leg­is­la­tion and the best prac­tices out­lined by their in­dus­try ver­ti­cals, as yet the same isn’t true for SMEs.

Be­sides the need for com­pli­ance with in­dus­try best prac­tices and the re­quire­ments of their busi­ness part­ners and cus­tomers, SMEs aren’t un­der mas­sive pres­sure to take firm steps to­wards risk aver­sion. “Forc­ing the is­sue and com­pelling SMEs to fo­cus on risk man­age­ment via leg­is­la­tion might well be a pos­i­tive move for SA com­pa­nies,” Smith says.

Apart from the mar­ket ral­ly­ing be­hind leg­is­la­tion that will force SMEs to take backup, re­cov­ery and dis­as­ter re­cov­ery se­ri­ously, Smith says the busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity in­dus­try also needs to be more ac­tive in high­light­ing the ben­e­fits of those prac­tices to small com­pa­nies.

“The fact is that ef­fec­tive busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity plan­ning helps large and small com­pa­nies op­er­ate more ef­fi­ciently and thereby in­crease their prof­itabil­ity. And in the event of the SME be­ing sold any im­proved ef­fi­cien­cies can en­sure a higher pur­chase price. The buyer is also gen­er­ally as­sured they’re buy­ing a well­run or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“Ul­ti­mately, busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity can no longer be seen as some­thing only ap­pli­ca­ble to en­ter­prise com­pa­nies. Any com­pany that wants to sur­vive an un­ex­pected event needs to un­der­stand where it’s vul­ner­a­ble and mit­i­gate those risks through pro­fes­sional, re­peat­able pro­cesses.”

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