What is business resilience?

Business resilience is the ability to maintain continuous operations, protect people and assets and preserve brand equity in the face of disruptions.

In the early months of 2019, there were few who could have predicted that, within one year, businesses around the world would be reeling from the devastating impact of a deadly global pandemic. Research suggests that between March and July of 2020, more than 80,000 small businesses permanently closed their doors as a result. But small businesses weren’t the only ones affected; many large, long-established organisations found themselves facing significant setbacks or even bankruptcy.

Looking back, the message becomes clear: emergent situations happen, and if you aren’t ready for them, your business might fail.

Business resilience is an approach that attempts to prepare organisations for unforeseen disruptions. Whether facing natural disasters, supply chain disruptions, IT and utility outages, or even a worldwide health crisis, resilient businesses are able to create effective plans of action to survive and recover from emergencies with their infrastructure, customer base and reputation intact. Building a comprehensive resilience plan gives your business and your people a playbook to follow when standard processes and procedures fail.

Benefits of Business Resilience

Risks of not planning

There are several risks to not adequately planning business resilience:

  • Financial loss
  • Damaged reputation
  • Threats to business continuity
  • Slow recovery
  • Environmental impacts
  • Inability to support community

Benefits of planning

Planning helps businesses prepare for a range of likely and less-likely disruptions. The benefits of planning include the following:

  • Reduce financial risks
  • Enhance reputation
  • Minimise threats
  • Speedy recovery
  • Minimise disruption
  • Minimise corporate risk

The ISO 22300:2018 defines business continuity as “the capability of an organisation to continue the delivery of products or services at acceptable predefined levels following a disruption”. Disruptions can range from a change in legislation that forces change to the loss of an employee. Continuity is the act of anticipating these disruptions and forming a plan to ensure that business operations can continue in the event of a disruption.

Business resilience, according to the ISO 22316:2017, is “the ability of an organization to absorb and adapt in a changing environment to enable it to deliver its objectives and survive and prosper”. Essentially, business resilience is the ability to recover from and adapt to potentially damaging incidents. Having the right mechanisms and contingencies in place empowers companies to absorb business disruptions without severe impact to business operations.

Benefits of continuity management

  • Avoid surprises: Prepare a “what-if” scenario to prepare for the best, worst and expected outcomes.
  • Recover more quickly: Identify important applications, locations or vendors to address first in the event of a disruption.
  • Make fast, informed decisions: Initially work on critical risk and use automated calculations to help your prioritise risk.
  • Accelerate user adoption: Make it easier on yourself to finish work with simple, powerful user experiences on familiar platforms.

Benefits of Risk Management

  • Faster risk-based decision-making: Create priorities for activities based on automated risk scores to choose the most critical risks first.
  • Increased performance: Cross-functional activities eliminate work interruptions when risk management is embedded.
  • Effectively communicate risk: Gather real-time insights and role-based dashboards to ease and speed reporting at all levels.
  • Stay on top of risks: A mobile interface can provide the information necessary to do your job at all locations and times.

A truly resilient business advocates for behaviour that is aligned with a shared vision and purpose. It has an up-to-date understanding of the organisation’s context, and is capable of absorbing, adapting and responding to change. Good governance and management are crucial, and there should be a diversity of skills, leadership, knowledge and experience.

Ideally, there is coordination across managerial disciplines and contributions from areas of expertise like technical and scientific. Finally, there is a strong degree of risk management and prioritisation of risk.

Effective business resilience demands a comprehensive understanding of your business, your customers and the possible disruptions you might face. It also requires buy-in from your entire organisation, from key decision makers to non-management personnel. With that in mind, here are four important tips to help ensure business resilience in your business.

Determine what business resilience means to your company

Every business is unique. As such, every business will need to approach business resilience slightly differently. Start by identifying important business elements, such as your vision or mission statement. Determine who your customers are and what they expect from you. Make note of your vital processes and procedures.

All this information will help you designate and prioritise essential functions, so that when disruptions occur, you know where you should be focussing your efforts to maintain and recover. Establish an acceptable minimum level of operation, figure out which personnel, functions and resources you can function without, and know what vulnerabilities you need to overcome to stay in business.

Work with your FMs

Facilities managers are essential players in establishing effective business resilience plans. By creating operational plans, establishing budgets, initiating training, conducting drills and more, FMs prepare your facilities and your employees to respond quickly and effectively if a disruption occurs.

As you enter the business resilience planning phase, work closely with your FMs. Having their expertise to inform your strategy will help your business bounce back quickly from otherwise damaging disasters and other unexpected events.

Adverse business events are not as rare as they once were. And while we may think of major disasters as once-in-a-lifetime emergencies that our businesses will likely never have to deal with, this simply is not the case. In fact, the number of these disasters has tripled in the last two decades. And there’s no denying that the very concept of business resilience was put to the test worldwide in the face of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, with agile organisations proving much more capable of weathering the storm.

Safeguarding your business and ensuring continued operation demands a renewed focus on resilience throughout your entire organisation. ServiceNow continuity management provides the essential resources and tools to help organisations recover quickly and effectively, minimising service downtime while protecting personnel and assets.

With ServiceNow, business resilience is easy. Create reliable continuity plans that prioritise critical functions, identify and reinforce possible weaknesses, reduce negative impact using secondary site definitions and predefined runbooks, and establish vital objectives to help keep everyone working towards the same goal.

Arm your organisation with business resilience

You can’t stop emergencies from occurring, but with ServiceNow, you can help make sure that they don’t harm your business, employees or customers.