Greater than the Sum of its Parts: Business Continuity Management in the UK Finance Sector
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- Swartz, E., Elliott, D. & Herbane, B. Risk Manag (2003) 5: 65. doi:10.1057/palgrave.rm.8240140
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Business continuity management has rapidly established itself as a key discipline within the world's finance centres. As a consequence many organisations were able to recommence business within days of the destruction of the World Trade Center. The discipline has evolved as a management process for identifying potential system failures and for preparing contingency plans to enable the organisation to continue key operations whilst a total system rebuild is undertaken, in the aftermath of disaster or other business interruption.
Although business continuity management emerged from information systems practitioners, its scope in some organisations has extended to embrace a wide range of operational risks. Indeed, a preliminary investigation of the UK finance sector indicated that, for practitioners, broadening the scope was seen as a key indicator of its successful development and implementation. Put simply, broader was seen as better.
Within the information systems literature the notion that the exploitation of new technology progresses through a series of stages is well developed, if not fully accepted. Indeed, the characteristics of each stage have been well documented. This paper seeks to examine the evolution of business continuity management, drawing upon earlier work which distinguished between standard and better practice. A data collection instrument, drawn from the ‘Seven S’ framework (Waterman et al, 1980; Pascale and Athos, 1982) and from Pauchant and Mitroff's (1988; 1992) onion model of crisis management, was used to gather data from two insurance companies and four investment banks.
These data provided evidence for the existence of three mindsets analogous to a ‘stages of growth’ model for business continuity. The data provide support for the contention that business continuity may be approached from a number of different mindsets, including a ‘new’ value-based approach, which leads practitioners to seek imaginative ways in which business continuity management can add to, rather than drain, financial performance.