Business Continuity – An Essential Competency in Modern Organizations

By: Matt Grawitch, Ph.D.

For many organizations, a lot of time is spent managing what is going on right now, rather than focusing on any number of “what if” scenarios. Yet, those “what if” scenarios can have an enormously large impact on the long-term viability of an organization or even a community. Consider the tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri in 2011, Hurricane Sandy that devastated the Atlantic in 2012, or the Target credit card breach that occurred during the holiday shopping season in 2013. These types of “what if” scenarios occur rather frequently, though not always with such a large-scale impact.

On March 6, members of the St. Louis community will be coming together to discuss the importance of business continuity, which, according to Jeff Larner, one of the panelists for the event and the head of Global Security for Peabody Energy Corporate, is “really about being able to respond to a crisis of any type and sustaining some level of critical business functionality to ensure the business recovers.”

Anthony Lichty, another one of the panelists and the Director of Business Continuity at Edward Jones, likens the issue of business continuity to a statement once uttered by Benjamin Franklin, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Lichty argues that business continuity is really about managing risk in a way that minimizes potential service disruptions.

The panel event will include Larner and Lichty, as well as Kim Battig, Project Leader for Business Continuity at Centene Corporation, and Mike Smiley, the Director of the St. Louis County Police Department’s Office of Emergency Management. The session will be moderated by John Steffen, Senior Program Manager at Charter Communications.

The panelists will touch on a number of issues, ranging from emergency management to incident/crisis management to the actual maintenance of business operations and disaster recovery. According to Kim Battig of Centene Corporation, “the basic premise for business continuity is the same across organizations” but that “different industries have different regulations, requirements, and reasons for having a business continuity program.”

The session will also emphasize the continuum of business continuity management, which includes aspects beyond organization and planning such as training and testing. “It’s one thing to think through the process of responding to and recovering from a crisis. It’s quite another to expose your plan to the stresses of reality.”

Even today, many companies lack any focus on business continuity, often deciding that major service disruptions won’t happen to them or can be managed fairly easily. On the other hand, many companies want to focus on business continuity but don’t know where to start. If that’s the case, John Steffen of Charter Communications would encourage those companies to “understand the ways various types of events can impact the business,” using what is referred to as a Business Impact Analysis (BIA).

The session will be aimed at a broad audience, from those with well-established business continuity processes to those just getting started, and the panelists will use major events that have occurred in the recent past to highlight the importance of the different facets of business continuity.

The event will be held on Thursday, March 6 in Saint Louis University’s Busch Student Center Rooms 170 and 171 (20 North Grand Blvd). Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be available beginning at 5:30 PM, with the formal program itself beginning at 6:00. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information or to register for the event, please visit the SLU website.

The School for Professional Studies at Saint Louis University offers an online Criminal Justice & Security Management program. The annual panel event is made possible by the CJSM Advisory Board at SLU.

Comments are closed.