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ContinuitySA launches business continuity preparedness assessment

Not knowing whether your business can survive any kind of disaster can be a cause of much anxiety for senior managers or board members. In the aftermath of a worst-case disruption, stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, shareholders, employees, investors as well as the markets will be unforgiving, should they discover there were no effective measures in place to secure business resilience.

A demonstrable ability to survive and recover from a worst-case operational disruption has become a critical success factor of any business continuity management (BCM) programme.

Arguably, most BCM initiatives do not go beyond IT disaster recovery plans or paper-based plans for other areas of the business. In most cases, such plans, where they exist, are rarely tested, thus only providing a false sense of security.

Increasingly, executives are asking themselves if they have made the right continuity decisions. “Have we done all that is necessary to ensure that our business continuity plans can deliver the right results should the worst happen?” The answer is the first BCM Capability and Maturity Assessment service from ContinuitySA.

“Locally developed to international standards, the CM2 is a new BCM Capability and Maturity Assessment service on offer from ContinuitySA, Africa's leading continuity service provider,” says Millington Gumbo, senior BCM consultant at ContinuitySA. “The assessment measures an organisation's business continuity capability and maturity in numerous areas, and charts the path it can follow to improve business resilience against operational disruptions.”

The assessment service measures the capability of each company to recover from operational disruptions, shorten their duration, reduce their financial and reputational impacts as well as improve the business's ability to survive and/or thrive in the aftermath of a disaster. It does not necessarily replace the need for a full BCM consultation involving the full end-to-end implementation of BCM life cycle elements, but provides executives with a diagnostic tool to assess their vulnerability and focus their attention on strengthening key areas, which will result in an improvement of their business continuity readiness.”

“Essentially, what we are achieving through CM2 is providing an independent assessment and validation of our clients' abilities to recover from operational disasters,” says Gumbo. “At the end of each assessment, we leave behind guidelines and recommendations on the factors that need to be addressed for the organisation to achieve a best practice business continuity capability and maturity.”

By definition, an operational disruption takes into account the occurrence of any one or a combination of the following worst-case scenarios:

* Loss of technology/systems; * Unavailability of personnel; * Loss of workspace; * Loss of suppliers; and/or * Loss of financial integrity.

The assessment returns a rating in multiple fields on one of five levels.

* A Level 1 rating indicates that the organisation cannot recover from or survive any disruption. This is the worst rating and spells disaster. * Level 2 indicates the business will only recover limited business processes via informal and undocumented methods. This typically indicates that BCM is a silo-based function, applied inconsistently between the various departments. There is no adherence to a formal corporate standard and no central driver for BCM initiatives, with departments left to fend for themselves and hope for the best. * A rating of Level 3 indicates some mission-critical functions within agreed recovery timeframes can be recovered. * The second-highest rating, Level 4, indicates the business can recover all mission-critical functions within the agreed recovery timeframes. Most companies would attempt to reach this level. * A Level 5 rating is awarded to organisations in which recoverability is certifiable to the BS25999 standard. Highly regulated institutions, for instance those in the financial sector, would strive to attain this score.

Instead of simply providing executives with a numerical rating, the assessment delivers its findings in an easy-to-read graphical dashboard. This means the managers responsible can identify weaknesses in their BCM preparations at a glance and focus their attention on eliminating or improving the shortcomings. The model employed in the assessment process measures BCM capability and maturity based on a dozen sets of BCM success factors derived from BS25999 and ContinuitySA's experience pertaining to the critical components required to establish business resilience.

Gumbo goes on to say: “The business world is moving into a space where business continuity is not just about surviving disasters, but is becoming a compelling competitive advantage, which can add value to a company's performance and enhance its reputation. Through CM2, we can assist organisations to adopt a well-rounded approach to BCM to help them leverage the upside benefits that come with best practice risk management.

“For companies needing to achieve a high level of business resilience across all facets of their operations, implementing the measures recommended in CM2 reduces the vulnerability to the range of threats that can affect the continuity of day-to-day operations,” adds Gumbo. “Boards can use this solution to index the resilience of their operations and test the effectiveness of their governance and risk management initiatives in sustaining their businesses after the occurrence of worst-case events.”



ContinuitySA is Africa's leading provider of business continuity management and related services. The company boasts some of the continent's most highly skilled and qualified business continuity and disaster management experts who help companies, organisations and government departments of all sizes prepare for and deal with all eventualities. These include potential threats, events, incidences and unforeseen or sudden disruptions due to human error or natural events.

ContinuitySA also provides a variety of hosting solutions, ranging from co-located to fully managed virtualised environments, with their primary focus being to ensure its clients are able to address the resilience and recoverability of their IT services. These hosting services are complemented by managed backup and recovery services, virtual server replication and high availability solutions to satisfy any level of continuity requirement.

ContinuitySA operates the largest recovery facilities in southern Africa. It has a number of recovery centres in southern Africa with over 20 000 square metres of recovery facilities in Midrand, Gauteng. Smaller sites have been located in Cape Town, Gaborone, Botswana and Mozambique, and a joint venture has been established in Mauritius.

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