Partnership is key to improving organisational resilience in the public sector

Partnership is key to improving organisational resilience in the public sector

As we move into Business Continuity Awareness Week, let’s consider what this year’s theme means for the public sector.

By Luyolo Hela, Head: Public Sector at ContinuitySA

The theme for this year’s Business Continuity Awareness Week is Working together to improve organisational resilience. It’s a very timely subject because it links the concept of resilience to partnership—and that’s something the public sector has to take to its heart.

We are all increasingly aware of the shifting and expanding threat landscape that organisations of all types face. From cyber terrorism and crime to natural disasters to industrial action, some sort of disaster is just around the corner.

While every organisation does its best to identify and mitigate the most pressing risks, the whole point is that many of them come out of left field and could not have been covered in the typical corporate planning process. As a result, there has been a growing global emphasis on building organisational resilience as the end goal of any business continuity management plan.

At last, the public sector is becoming more aware of resilience. This is long overdue because its services are of prime importance both to citizens and private sector business community. Downtime for a government department of utility such as Eskom has a ripple effect on large parts of the economy.

The importance of public-sector resilience can be seen in the fact that the Auditor-General now includes business continuity in its annual audit. Governance codes like King IV, along with legislation like the new Companies Act and the Public Finance Management Act, all make the senior leadership of the public-sector organisation accountable for its resilience.

However, the public sector’s journey towards organisational resilience is threatened by the fact that it does not properly understand that its achievement requires it to build a true partnership with its business continuity and resilience provider. This collaboration between client and service provider is captured in the word “together” in the theme of this year’s Business Continuity Awareness Week.

Creating, implementing and maintaining a business continuity and resilience plan is complex, and thus cannot simply be outsourced to the expert service provider. The two parties need to work together closely in order to align the business continuity efforts with business strategic goals.

This level of planning, and the need for the continuous testing and refinement of the plan, requires buy-in to the process at all levels of the organisation, as well as sufficient budget and resources to be allocated. A true partnership will need to be built because business resilience is a continuous process, not an event.

Without this kind of partnership based on mutual trust, true resilience will remain elusive for the public sector, with dire consequences for those who are accountable.