Role of C-Suite Executives in Business Continuity
C-level executives, or C-suites, are depicted in media as intimidating, if not haphazardly incompetent. Sometimes assistants or interns buzz around them, trying to be quietly noticed for any upcoming team opportunities.
Depictions like this give the media further fuel to reinforce these ideas. For example, the Apprentice shows play into these C-suite stereotypes, depicting rich men and women in sharp suits standing in front of a helicopter.
C-suites are more than their clean style and boardroom meetings. They are indispensable for any growing or established company.
One of the C-suites' responsibilities is to protect the business; the company can survive and grow when a crisis happens. Among other obligations, C-suites directly influence business continuity and disaster recovery.
Why Business Continuity is Important
Business continuity is also called contingency planning. Continuity is essential when disaster strikes a company.
Where unprepared businesses may face financial ruin in the wake of a crisis—business continuity is designed for survival.
A business continuity plan isn't just for survival. These plans evaluate the threat, source a solution, and then find a road to recovery. After a disaster happens, these plans can help guide employees.
As a byproduct, these plans help to minimize downtime, resume operations faster, and ensure a more straightforward path for production.
What Is in a Business Continuity Plan?
Business continuity and disaster recovery plans are sometimes created and implemented by C-suites. Continuity requires simultaneous teamwork across departments and management.
C-suites must collaborate as leaders of their domains to create proactive, lasting disaster plans.
A good business continuity plan often includes the following:
- Executive summary: A synopsis of the procedure and why it was developed.
- Objectives: A list of desired goals comes after the plan starts.
- Risk management analysis: A list of pros and cons for accepting or rejecting the proposed plan and suggestions for proactive measures.
- Incident response plan: An initial continuity plan with adjustments to the current crisis or situation; these also outline who should take control.
- Recovery plan: Created after a disaster, it is on the C-suites to establish a plan, implement it, and ensure its procedures are followed. Many recovery plans include dependency on recovery solutions - like backup generators, alternative workspace, and emergency technology and equipment - lasting months after a crisis.
Roles of Main C-Level Executives in Business Continuity
Chief Executive Officer
These C-suites are the face of many companies. Their role in the company is to support the message of the overall business and push for progress. They typically keep tabs on competitors and spend time thinking about how to get ahead of them.
During a crisis, the chief executive officer also has obligations outside of the company. They corral many of the critical figures of a company to keep them calm when a disaster hits. Their effort limits collateral damage that can occur, like dips in stocks. Generally, the CEO placates boards, senior management, stakeholders, and the media.
Additionally, they are also in control of green lighting any emergency responses or teams. These C-suites are also in charge of implementing vital strategies during and after disasters. Thus, they need to put effort into building good continuity plans—it makes their job easier.
Chief Information or Technology Officer
The chief information officer is a business's lord of technology, overseeing electronics and cybersecurity. These C-suites' time is primarily occupied by managing cyber threats, testing new approaches to technology, and limiting downtime.
During a crisis, the CIO has two vital roles. First, before a disaster, they would have needed to implement backups of all possible data. In the case of a crisis, this backup data can prove to be salvation.
At the same time, CIOs create proactive plans to combat future cyber threats. Correctly predicting, analyzing, and implementing strategies to fight cyber threats is challenging because technology evolves quickly; a CIO should be a master at engaging with new technology and developing proactive measures.
Chief Operations Officer
The role of a chief operations officer is to improve efficiency and profit while limiting or stopping points of failure. Generally, they must know all the company's processes, security issues, and compliance requirements for the government. Thus, they work closely with chief compliance officers (below).
During a crisis, COOs may involve themselves directly with affected departments. They ensure that all departments and staff run as efficiently after a disaster. Continuity plans require the extensive inclusion of COOs since they speak directly to employees.
Chief Financial Officer
These C-suites are more than glorified financial advisers. They manage stakeholders, accounts management, and reporting processes. Additionally, chief financial officers work closely with the CEOs; planning initiatives must stay within budget and timelines—both aspects appeal to any CFO.
During a crisis, a CFO's attention falls on the accounts attached to the company. They oversee the business's financials and assets. Further, they are essential in projecting the future funds of the company—impacting continued growth strategies. Continuity plans help steer the company forward by not hemorrhaging money and helping protect bottom lines.
Chief Compliance Officer
Chief compliance officers oversee regulatory procedures and production guidelines. They pay attention to state and federal laws to ensure operations are happening legally and adequately. COOs work closely with CCOs to guarantee desired production outcomes.
During a crisis, CCOs supervise legal procedures and production guidelines. However, they also have an additional role; they are the point of contact between the company and the government. Another way to view them is as a shield between a company and government laws.
Chief Marketing Officer
Large companies require a chief marketing officer. These C-suites are the backbone of a brand image. Their role relies heavily on statistics about the end customer, sometimes provided by the CIO (above). The CMO must balance big data, social media, trends, avenues for growth, and messaging.
A CMO oversees brand management, advertising, and marketing campaigns during a crisis. These marketing aspects are vital for the company's image. Thus, they work closely with CEOs to face the media.
C-Suite Executives Must Lead by Example & Be Proactive About Their Security
All C-suite executives must be proactive and work in unison when a disaster occurs. C-suites must properly guide the different departments they oversee to mitigate damage to a business in crisis.
Additionally, C-suite executives are spearheads for progress, growth, and proactively following a disaster. Their roles in business continuity and recovery are critical.
Ben Hartwig is a Web Operations Executive at InfoTracer who takes a wide view from the whole system. He authors guides on entire security posture, both physical and cyber.