Infinite Blue, a leading provider of business continuity/disaster recovery planning and response management software, has announced results from its “How Prepared Were You – A Business Continuity Retrospective” survey.
Findings revealed that although respondents had business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) plans in place, when put to the test of an extended, multi-vector challenge such as the COVID-19 pandemic, pandemic response plans were “not very useful.”
In fact, 89% of respondents reported having a BC plan in place that specifically addressed pandemic response, but when asked how complete their plan was in addressing the reality of the COVID pandemic, 27% said that when they reviewed that plan, they found it “not very useful” or “not good.” Those with IT titles were most critical, with 45% responding that the plans in place were not actually helpful or did not function in the way they were intended.
81% of respondents reported that they continuously expanded and enhanced their pandemic plan as previously overlooked dependencies revealed themselves. Given the experiences and learnings over the past year responding to the pandemic, 87% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed their organization has developed a deeper commitment to comprehensive business continuity planning. The full Infinite Blue survey report is available for download at this link.
The pandemic revealed to the vast majority of organizations surveyed that the depth and sophistication of their planning was not adequate in addressing all aspects and dependencies within their business. For example, requirements for non-essential workers to work from home for months, made many businesses quickly realize they were unprepared to operate remotely.
“I’ve worked with a few companies that did not think through the possible issues relating to cyber security that could happen with every employee laptop located in a different location,” said Chris Duffy, CBCP, CISSP, Senior Advisory & Account Executive at Infinite Blue. “I also heard from some IT professionals that tech support was extremely difficult in situations where an employee needed their equipment fixed or replaced. What we can learn from this is that plans need to address the challenges of moving the primary workspace away from the office and must identify all the potential points of failure in this new environment.”
Join the Webinar: How Prepared Were You? A Discussion of Our Covid-19 Business Continuity Retrospective, May 20, 2021, 12:00 p.m., ET | Register
Inconsistency Among Departments
Although pandemic response plans were in place for 89% of respondents, not everyone felt that particular departments were as prepared as others. In fact, 79% of respondents felt that some of the organization’s departments, facilities and business units were better prepared than others to respond to the challenges of the pandemic.
IT titles reported seeing the least difference in preparedness levels between groups, with Business Continuity Management professionals feeling the most confident in the preparedness of all departments.
“These results indicate that those closest to the plan and response of an incident feel strongly that they have prepared and responded equally across departments,” said Mike Jennings, CBCP, Director of Advisory Services for Infinite Blue. “When other groups disagree with this, it shows that there needs to be more communication and hands-on involvement from business continuity management in every area of the company.”
Communication Is Key
When asked about the overall communication to employees, partners, vendors, suppliers, customers, and prospects, interestingly, only 19% of HR professionals strongly agreed that communication to employees was clear and timely. However, 35% of their BC and IT colleagues strongly agreed to the same thing.
“This is interesting, because in most organizations, HR is responsible for the communication to employees,” commented Jennings. “What this shows us is that HR, the ones closest to this task, felt that they could have done a better job. While communication across the board is important, it’s easy to forget that employees are your most important resource and should be kept informed about what is happening whenever possible.”
The Need for Better Visibility
On average about 19% of the BC, HR and IT respondents indicated that they do not have reports and analytics that help them understand how their response is working. Risk titles were the exception to this with only 8% indicating they did not have these reports.
“Not only does more visibility provide reassurance to the organization as a whole, but a clear picture of analytics based on a company’s response can help those in Risk and Business Continuity gain more support from the executive team related to performance of the program,” said Jennings. “There needs to be consistent visibility throughout an organization, and each department needs to be heard when it comes to their specific issues and concerns.”
Everyone Is Their Own Worst Critic
In areas that a functional title would know best, specialists were more likely to find fault with their own area of response. For example, IT was more critical than any other titles of system preparedness and worker productivity levels, HR was most critical of communications to employees and how connected employees felt to the organization.
Executive titles were consistently more positive or optimistic across the board than any of the titles with direct responsibilities for BC/DR planning and response.
“This may be the result of those on the front-line of a specific part of planning and response ‘seeing the sausage being made’ and knowing better what was working and what needs more attention, stated Jennings. “Those in charge are very critical about their specific responsibilities, but they might not have all the information needed to make decisions regarding other departments. Moving forward, regular check-ins with the executive team, directors, and manager level employees to ensure that communication continues post-pandemic will be an absolute necessity,” he added.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
89% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that employees working from home felt/feel connected to the organization. The IT department helped play a key role in that, with 84% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that the organization’s systems, technology and IT met the challenges faced when responding to the pandemic.
The survey also revealed that by-in-large, employees have “gone the extra mile” when needed to respond to the unprecedented situation, with 86% agreeing or strongly agreeing to that sentiment.
“This experience has caused a shift in many organizations to weave comprehensive BC/DR planning into the fabric of their normal course of business, specifically addressing deeper dependencies and overlooked areas within their organizations,” said Frank Shultz, Chairman and CEO of Infinite Blue. “A winning formula constitutes proper planning, changes in employee attitudes and deeper continuous collaboration among different teams across the organization.”
“Prior to the pandemic, the goal was to prepare, wait for an event to happen, respond to the event and go back to a pre-event ‘steady state.’ This pandemic has forced a full evaluation of how we plan and respond and what ‘steady state’ even means. These results indicate that much needs to be done and it’s my belief that most organizations are willing to make the necessary changes for the benefit of their employees, business, and shareholders,” Shultz concluded.
Infinite Blue surveyed 331 respondents, who worked in either Business Continuity Management (BCM), Human Resources (HR), IT or Risk Management. They all reported being closely involved with business continuity planning and response and work in several different industries.
Infinite Blue’s flagship application, BC in the Cloud helps companies with a commitment to organizational resiliency by providing an intuitive, full featured product with shared data, automated workflows, reporting and embedded mass notification. Its product has the flexibility to meet the unique needs of customers and their level of BC/DR maturity. Built on Infinite Blue’s low-code platform allows for greater product flexibility and quick implementation of enhancements. BC in the Cloud is used worldwide by more than 500,000 users and serving more Fortune 10 companies than any other BC/DR planning solution.
Learn more and download the report here.
About Infinite Blue: Infinite Blue provides a comprehensive low-code development platform and enterprise applications for the business continuity and disaster recovery industry. Infinite Blue is trusted by independent software vendors and enterprises across the globe. Infinite Blue Platform is at the heart of countless business applications running in a wide variety of industries worldwide.