Does a Business Case for Business Continuity Change after Disaster?

It’s been a year since the natural earthquake and tsunami disasters struck Japan, wrecking many high-tech factories on the country’s north-eastern coast. The Sony Sendai Technology Centre was one of those factories and suffered like the others. Managers and employees struggled to save what they could to restart operations as rapidly as possible. Sony top executives applauded the courage and the determination of the factory staff, as did the local community. Now, 12 months later, cutbacks are reducing factory headcount significantly. Does that invalidate the original business case for business continuity or the extent of the recovery efforts?

For a business case for business continuity based on hard data alone, such as productivity and profitability, such doubts might have a basis. Sony has moved production for a number of products, including electrodes and optical components, elsewhere. The number of employees, previously at over 1,000, has been reduced to 900, and further job losses are still possible. On a purely mathematical basis, money spent on business continuity preparations might turn out to have been wasted if the factory continues to downsize or even closes – except that a number of other factors exist, besides pure profit and loss accounting.

From a social and ecological point of view, the efforts to recover to business to as near normal as possible were justified by the solidarity that they engendered, and the contribution to cleaning up the local area after the destruction by the disasters. This lends justification as well to the original business case for business continuity, whether or not top management had considered changes at the factory before the earthquake and the tsunami. Only an outright declaration of such changes at that time would be any real cause for regret for investing in business continuity. The same message almost a year after the event invalidates neither the money spent nor the efforts made.