Role and Importance of C-Suite Executives in Business Continuity


Role and Importance of C-Suite Executives in Business Continuity

Many professionals and business leaders operate under the assumption that their workplace or business operations will remain largely unchanged or stable from one day to the next. Some leaders, even at the executive level, find comfort in routines and rhythms.

However, sometimes, events, such as floods and hurricanes, or human attacks disrupt business operations. Keep in mind that one of the critical aspects of leadership and executive management is preparing for these interruptions. It is important to create strategies and business plans that can keep your core business functions or operations intact even under unprecedented circumstances.

Some Key Stats

A recent study conducted by the US Chamber of Commerce revealed that 43% of small business organizations believe that they will be forced to close down permanently if the coronavirus pandemic crisis isn’t resolved within six months. And more than 50% of Australian SME businesses don’t have an effective business continuity plan to mitigate the risks of human and natural disasters. About 90% of small Australian businesses experienced a negative impact from the pandemic

While small businesses in Australia may take the biggest hits, note that enterprise-level businesses and multinational companies are also feeling the operations and financial strains. The coronavirus health pandemic worldwide has disrupted the business world with significant, far-reaching impacts.

Business leaders and C-suite executives are striving to implement new business strategies and risk management processes in order to operate amidst the ongoing international crisis. Whether you are a CEO or CIO, as a business leader, one of your most important tasks is mitigating risk.

One of the main C-suites’ responsibilities is to protect the business so that the company can survive when a crisis happens. Among other important obligations and duties, C-suite executives directly influence disaster recovery and business continuity.

Understanding what type of risk exists, planning to minimize this risk, and executing business continuity plans to keep your organization operational and competitive during a disruption are of great importance.

The earlier you identify, assess, manage, and integrate the risk into your strategic planning initiatives, the better. You probably know that two specific fields or concepts address potential business interruptions. These are business continuity and disaster recovery, and they minimize the effect that a catastrophic event, such as a flood or fire, may have on your business’s ability to deliver its services and products reliably.

Business Continuity Planning to Minimize the Effects of Catastrophic Events

Business continuity is often challenging, and usually, a company undergoes some type of turbulence that can considerably impact the regular activities and primary revenue streams. CIOs, CEOs, and other C-suite executives, such as CFOs, need to plan and strategize in order to sustain under unique or unprecedented circumstances. Also, they should have the right resources, people, and technology by their side so they can find the way through.

While business disruptions happen frequently and can cause organizations to lose millions of dollars, it is possible to minimize these losses. 

When astute and tech-savvy executives, including CIOs and CFOs, cheat disruption by concentrating on business continuity management programs and initiatives that build resilience, the business can prosper.

What is Business Continuity?

We can define business continuity as an organization’s ability to maintain and sustain essential business functions both during and after a disaster has occurred. Business continuity management (BCM) is the planning and preparation of a business organization to maintain business functions or quickly resume after a disaster.

Business continuity planning sets or creates risk management practices and procedures that seek to stop disruptions to mission-critical services and promptly and easily restore full-scale operations.

C-Suite Executives Have to Lead by Example

All C-suite executives, such as CIO, must be proactive, working in unison when a disaster happens. It is the responsibility of C-suites to properly guide the different departments or functions they oversee to mitigate risk and damage to a business in crisis.

And that is not all; C-suite executives spearhead progress, company growth and proactively monitor a disaster. Their roles and importance in business continuity plans are indispensable. 

Roles of Key C-Level Executives in Business Continuity

Chief Executive Officer

There is no doubt that CEOs are the face of many companies. Their main role is to support the message of the overall business while pushing for progress. These C-suites often keep tabs on analyzing the competition and market and spend time thinking about how to get ahead of the competitors.

During a crisis, the CEO of a company also has many obligations outside of the company. For example, they corral many important figures in a company to keep everyone calm when a disaster hits.  

Their initiatives and efforts reduce potential collateral damage, such as stock price dips. The CEO plays a key role in the communication and decision-making processes of a business continuity plan.  These roles and duties include:

  • Brief and advise senior management as well as the Executive Board on various business interruption events, the expected effect, and recovery timeframe
  • Ensure that staff and key stakeholders, such as stockholders and investors, are made aware of the issues and problems
  • Provide a focal point for the business organization to ensure the media and public receive correct, timely, and consistent information
  • Ensure Recovery Teams and Recovery Coordinators have the support and resources necessary to perform their job

CEOs are also in charge of giving the go-ahead to any emergency teams. Additionally, these C-suite executives are responsible for implementing and executing crucial plans both during and after disasters. They must therefore make an effort to create effective business continuity plans because doing so makes their job easier.

Chief Operations Officer

Although COOs usually delegate detailed budget and operational decisions to their team, they are still responsible for the overall business performance and company reputation. This is why anything that threatens the ongoing conduct or operation of the business is under their purview. Keep in mind that COOs will care most about specific considerations like:

Time to resume business, such as near-zero recovery time objective
Ability to manage and prioritize workloads and data, both for budgetary or financial and business continuity purposes
Estimates of data loss in the event of a disaster or catastrophic event
Testing flexibility in order to ensure an operational and reliable solution

During a crisis or disaster, COOs might involve themselves directly with concerned departments. They also make sure that all departments, units, and staff run as efficiently and effectively as possible after a disaster.

As you can see, continuity plans require the extensive involvement of COOs as they speak directly to customers and employees.

Chief Technology or Information Officer

The chief information officer, also known as a chief technology officer, oversees technology and aspects like electronics and cybersecurity. The time and resources of these C-suites are primarily occupied and spent on managing cyber threats and malicious attacks, testing new and better approaches to technology, and restricting downtime.

CIOs should use a business lens to consider how a disruption can affect the firm (operationally, financially, and legally) and then develop strategies to lessen the damage. It is important for these leaders to understand business requirements across the entire organization as they relate to business resilience and remain dynamic and agile when business conditions change.

Also, CIOs must account for the timing and criticality of each business process, such as front-office processes, including sales and customer support service, and back-office processes, like operations and human resources.

As technology affects all stakeholders, CIOs must stay ahead of disruption by taking steps like:

  • Championing key business requirements
  • Considering cloud as a means to build resilience
  • Obtaining business leader and steering committee buy-in
  • Implementing more rigorous and disciplined validation and testing

During a crisis or disaster, the CIO has two important roles. Before a disaster or crisis, they should implement backups of all important data.

Secondly, CIOs need to develop proactive measures to counter and mitigate potential cyber-attacks. There is no doubt that technology changes and evolves quickly. This makes it difficult and tricky to accurately predict, analyze, and implement strategies to combat cyber risks. A CIO should excel at engaging and interacting with the latest technology and developing proactive and sound measures.

It is vital to obtain buy-in from other business leaders. It is worth noting you cannot achieve business continuity and resilience in a silo. This is why the CIO has to ensure that technology solutions and apps are designed, tested, and implemented with buy-in and input from leaders across the enterprise.

Chief Compliance Officer

Chief compliance officers oversee regulatory practices, procedures, and production guidelines. They make sure that federal and state laws are followed to ensure smooth and compliant business operations.

During a disaster or crisis, CCOs supervise and oversee legal procedures and production guidelines. But they also have to act as the point of contact between the organization and the government.

Importance of C-Suite Executives in Business Continuity

During times of uncertainty and upheaval, employees look to leaders for compassion, trust, stability, and hope. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, many business assumptions and models have been put to the test. The encouraging thing is that C-suite leaders, such as CEOs and CIOs, have been driving their organizations’ business continuity, crisis management, and operational resilience efforts to sustain and resume operations.

However, the challenges to a company’s resilience are ever-changing and dynamic and can easily extend beyond expectations in terms of both duration and severity. This is why boards are looking to the C-suites to develop and demonstrate resilience with meaningful, accurate, and substantiated data. Leadership is important in managing crises and can minimize the damage imposed by an incident.

Final Thoughts

Business continuity and disaster recovery planning help businesses and companies prepare for worst-case scenarios, and C-suite executives play important roles in these initiatives. Also, resilience and business continuity are not goals that can be achieved.

Rather, they involve ongoing effort earned over time. CEOs, CIOs, and other leaders who manage disruption by addressing resilience and continuity holistically support a company’s efforts to come back stronger in the face of adversity.

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