Business continuity principles may span industries and continents, but their application can turn out to be very different. Organisations in different professional sectors have varying methods and priorities in organising their daily activities. What may be sufficient as business continuity planning in one enterprise may be inadequate for another. Try this as a thought experiment – which has the more extensive needs for business continuity, a bank or a manufacturing company?
In this context, an absolute answer is not possible, but just considering the two contexts already yields clues. Banks in a general sense function with data: data on financial assets, transactions, loans, customer accounts and so on. Notwithstanding the physical aspects that are still part of banking, such as holding cash or bullion, banking business continuity priority is often on the safeguarding and restoration of data. Being unable to use a branch office or perhaps even headquarters is an inconvenience, but with today’s electronic banking systems and internet access for customers, the data themselves are what matter.
Manufacturing is a different kettle of fish. While data functions and resources may drive a significant portion of a manufacturer’s daily work, so do physical inventories, supply chains, and upstream and downstream supply chain partners. Getting the balance right between lean or just-in-time manufacturing, automation, plant consolidation and cost reduction can make manufacturing complicated. As a consequence, business continuity can also become significantly more complex, extending into several additional dimensions, beyond IT and electronic data systems. Some industrial installations cannot reasonably be duplicated. The “manufacturing cloud” has not yet arrived in the same way as the computing cloud.
So who has the more extensive needs? If there is any answer to that question, it is that in each case, business continuity has to be planned according to the specific needs, and without assuming that any unisize solution will fit either.