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The Role of Leadership in Business Continuity Management

One of the leading management challenges in the establishment of a BCMS (Business Continuity Management System) is gaining board-level support. Author Wei Ning Zechariah Wong outlines the process of gaining board-level support for continuity and risk management projects.

One of the leading management challenges in the establishment of a BCMS (Business Continuity Management System) is gaining board-level support. Like any major projects that could influence the way an organization operates, business continuity needs to be perceived as a management activity that adds value to business.

The project itself requires the attention of the senior leadership team, also known as top management, in order to receive the correct emphasis. Individuals at this level hold specific executive powers conferred on them by the authority of the board of directors and key shareholders. As such, board-level commitment is paramount to success.

To ensure that the BCMS is embedded as an integral part of the organization’s mainstream activities, executive leadership is essential at every stage of the project. In many organizations it is becoming a corporate norm to appoint a business continuity champion, also known as a project sponsor, to oversee the project development process. The individual is a member of the senior leadership team who provides advice to the BCMS team whilst acting on behalf of the business continuity steering committee to report the status of the BCMS project and other management issues to the board.

Business continuity forms an essential part of an organization’s overall approach to governance. It should be treated as an executive, management-driven process. Board-level leadership, priority and budgetary support are recognized as critical factors to the successful establishment of the BCMS. These factors ensure that the management system is adequately resourced and managed. The ‘top-drawer,’ approach enforces the importance of BCMS across the organization, which can reduce resistance within the organizational structure. Also, it creates a positive business continuity culture, which helps to foster the integration of BCMS as part of the organization’s strategic and day-to-day management ethos.

There are several management influences that are essential for the establishment of an effective BCMS.

  • Corporate alignment
  • Process integration
  • Staff appointment and resource planning
  • Communication and compliance
  • Support and empowerment
  • Ongoing commitment

Visible board-level backing in the form of a statement of intent signed by the chief executive, coupled with the business continuity champion’s influence, can readily pave the way for a successful implementation of the BCMS. In addition, the business continuity champion should empower key individuals in the BCMS team to make decisions in order that the tasks can be carried out more effectively.

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