Keeping Organisational Policies Up to Date in Business Continuity Management

Whether or not rules are made to be broken, company policies are made to be reviewed. What was suitable for an organisation a few years ago may be out of date with requirements now. Paradoxically, this is an instance where business continuity management needs to introduce some discontinuity, to avoid the enterprise getting stuck in what could be an inefficient and even dangerous rut. A policy to use only one vendor’s IT equipment could stifle enthusiasm among employees who now want to work using their own devices. On the other hand, a policy of free access to company premises could now leave the company at risk of violating health and safety procedures.  The first question is – where do you start?

Heads of departments are often the best starting point, with groups like human resources, accounting and IT being among the priorities. Any policy that is being actively applied should surface quickly in any discussion on the matter. HR may have its new-hire induction policy, accounting its expenses and budget sign-off policies, IT its policies for training, external consultant engagement, use of instant messaging and so on. As part of your business continuity management, check to see why a policy was defined as well. Even if the policy is out of date, the original need may still be current and should not therefore be ignored.

The other side of the coin is the policy that is still applied, but that has become ‘invisible’. This may be because it is unthinkingly accepted or because it has become ingrained in the organisation’s culture. Some such policies may be good and others bad, but they are all more difficult to identify. A policy of inviting employees’ families to social events organised by the company may be good; a policy of letting suppliers past reception to use coffee machines located inside the company may not be so good. For effective business continuity management with policy updates as required, curiosity with detective skills to find out what’s going on and diplomacy to work with the people involved are also good qualities to develop!

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