Business Continuity Management and Intelligence Activities

Building a resilient organisation depends upon a risk-managed approach to management and as part of the risk process this involves the assessment of business-affecting threats where intelligence gathering is an important aspect.

Organisations need to collect and use information regarding threats in order to be able to anticipate factors that could influence their continued viability. Therefore organisations, as part of their BCM programme, need to undertake intelligence gathering relating to threats in order to anticipate and to plan for response to issues before they arise. Intelligence collection is therefore used for gathering, analysing and processing vital information which may help an organisation to remain competitive and enable it to survive and protect against the potential losses.

Intelligence activities can contribute and be invaluable in devising Business Continuity Management. At an organisational level there is a need to look at the different elements that are required to provide services and examine how these would be affected should the organisation be unable to perform its core business. Intelligence is important in areas such as Human Resources, Buildings and Facilities, ICT infrastructure, organisational knowledge base, Finance, logistical supply chain including information on delivery partners and, depending where the business operates, local political considerations such as corruption and stability. The information gathered may also include such areas as security (both physical and cyber) as well as those issues affecting Corporate Governance. In planning BCM the information available can then be used within individual BCM plans at both organisational and community levels to strengthen the measures required to resilience and ensure that company assets are able to cope with both global and local disruptive incidents either on site or where necessary devolved to other organisational offices or suitable partners who will deliver the required goods or services.

Intelligence activities are also carried out by external organisations and can have an effect on both how an organisation operates and influence the way in which it works through being made aware of issues that could affect both its Services and Business Continuity activities. Outside organisations such as the Business Continuity Institute (BCI) and British Standards Institute (BSI) produce the annual Horizon Scan which provides information on perceived and actual threats and trends relating to resilience. Organisations such as the police, civil contingency and governmental intelligence services also provide intelligence and advice on best practices in dealing with disruptive incidents. In addition there are commercial intelligence gathering services to which an organisation can subscribe who give both global and specialised local intelligence that could affect an organisations operations and that may include specialist research carried out by academics and academic bodies. Intelligence about political and regulatory issues which can effect operations is also obtainable from such bodies as the Government.

Organisations that value and manage their BCM intelligence will be better prepared to address potential issues through gathering information and converting it into a usable and valuable resource. It is most important to consider the significance of the intelligence process across the organisation and ensure that each organisational function is considered in relation to its intelligence requirements.