A pandemic, cost of living crisis, and war are just a few issues that are causing impact to many lives at present. The knock-on effect is monumental to the charities sector with rising demand, fewer donations and goods and services being more expensive and less obtainable, are all contributing to an extremely challenging time that is unlikely change in the near future.
In a prolonged period of disruptive change it is ever more important to continue to build resilience. Within the charity sector, the increasing demand for providing support and carrying out necessary fundraising is likely to outshine any Business Continuity focus, and understandably so. However, focusing on Business Continuity can offer vital and beneficial outcomes to staff, stakeholders, and the organisation in both the short and longer term. Inverroy addresses why ‘now’ is a good time to review business continuity activity and that also reviewing the Business Continuity Plan does not have to be a mundane task. We recommend conducting effective activities in the workplace to energize thinking and create buy-in, which are all positive steps to keeping charities resilient and able to weather the storm longer term.
Why review your Business Continuity plan now?
It enables you to capitalise on recent COVID knowledge and experience. The workplace in its entirety has lived through disruptions over the past few years and so has experienced having to adapt to continue, but more importantly, has the confidence that it can adapt. Reviewing the plan regularly allows the ability to capture those lessons learned at all levels, and to continue to build confidence with staff at all levels, before those lessons are forgotten and appetite wains.
It can add value to your charity’s business operating model. Conducting a business impact analysis against current threats can help refine charity objectives and assist with meeting those objectives against the constraints of the current operating environment. The analysis, and the solutions the analysis provides can be useful when reviewing income streams, targeting and communicating with supporters, and by providing much-asked-for evidence of robust planning, when applying for grant funding initiatives.
Two invigorating ways to review your Business Continuity plan:
In simple terms, the Business Continuity plan provides the structure, it is then how the plan is carried out by the team and adapted to fit the scenario in hand, that creates the mechanism for success. Here are two effective and efficient ways of reviewing a plan and creating buy-in with staff along the way:
Conducting effective and relevant horizon scanning. Horizon scanning is the early detection of indicators of potential change and this activity should be considered when conducting business impact analysis and assessing risk. The trouble is that there is so much going on in the world that it is easy to be overwhelmed by it all – particularly right now. The key to horizon scanning is making it relevant to the charity. Asking ‘so what?’ is a simple but effective mechanism for fine-tuning the problem. It is also a great question for leaders to ask their team for their focused input. In return, teams are listened to and feel valued for their contribution. All can buy into the direction of travel and are more prepared to react if an incident was to occur. A 10–15-minute session as part of an existing meeting, once a week can do wonders.
Running a tabletop exercise. A tabletop exercise is an excellent way of creating focused attention around a problem or scenario, using the plan as guidance. Lessons learned can then be used to update the plan. Tabletop exercises are great for collaborative learning and building a team. It allows a safe space to explore rabbit holes, a place to ask difficult questions, and to discover questions that may not have answers to straight away. The outcomes of the tabletop can include a gap analysis, and a list of tasks and recommendations for improvement to get on with, which can be more effective than simply circulating a plan for review and comment. A 90 minute tabletop exercise once a month can be a game changer for building resilience, if time permits, nothing beats meeting around a table for it.
Consultants from Inverroy have worked with local charities in Scotland to improve their resilience and focus their business continuity planning. Angus Housing Association and Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home have recently conducted tabletop exercises against worst-case scenarios. Both charities commented on the utility of the exercise, and the collaborative way it was delivered added significant value to the team and their Business Continuity preparation.
The Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home’s Chief Executive Officer, Lyndsay-Fyffe Jardine commented, “Such a positive first tabletop exercise, the team have all come away really engaged in this and that’s the ideal starting point for us”.
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Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema (Unsplash)