With the pace of life rapidly increasing and attention spans getting diverted from one essential element to another, chances are that you’re used to living in the right here and now. Running any business is a demanding juggling act and it can be difficult to plan for potential future problems. But have you ever wondered how certain businesses can carry on functioning in the face of disruptions? How do operations continue running smoothly when disaster strikes? A Business Continuity Plan is most likely responsible for the lack of issues in the face of complications and there’s no reason why your business can’t also reap the benefits. If you’re unsure of what a Business Continuity Plan is and what it entails, then read on to discover more about it and how it can have a positive impact on your business.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
It may sound complex but, in essence, a Business Continuity Plan is a series of tasks and structure your business will implement should there be a disaster or disruption to your normal operations, facilitating fast recovery and, as the name suggests, continued performance of the business. Its creation can also be distilled into the simple ‘what if?’, thus helping to foresee and prepare for what may come. It does encompass some elements that may appear very unlikely to happen (earthquakes, flooding, cyberattacks) but they’re still worth planning for especially if you work with suppliers who, if affected, could have a serious impact on your business operations. The plan is all about increasing resiliency by constantly assessing and re-assessing potential threats to a business. You may be more familiar with the term disaster recovery, which has been a part of business parlance since the 1960s, and this is an expansion on the idea encompassing the business as a whole.
Does your business need a continuity plan?
You can probably guess what the best answer to this question is but, nevertheless, begin by interrogating your business with the following questions: ‘Do you rely on a supplier? Is your stock stored in a warehouse? Do you require a server to complete daily tasks? Do you handle large amounts of data?’
Whilst there are many questions of a similar vein that can be additionally posed, chances are that your business encompasses at least one element of the aforementioned and is, therefore, subject to disruption should one of the elements fail. Review the procedures currently in place to support you in times of crisis and check with your staff to see if they are aware of how best to proceed should it be needed. If at any point during this exercise you falter or see uncertainty from staff, then you have an answer to whether your business will be resilient during a difficult time.
Once you have decided that your business is in need of a Business Continuity Plan, there are a number of steps you can take to best implement it into your business strategy. The first should be taking stock of your operation (with questions like the ones mentioned in the previous paragraph) and deciding whether you want to create a Business Continuity Plan in-house or outsource it to professionals with proven experience in Business Continuity Management.
Outsourcing your business continuity management can provide peace of mind and reassurance that a team of dedicated professionals are objectively assessing your strengths and weaknesses and devising the most suitable plan accordingly. It will include gap analysis that looks at your existing processes and tests them for reliability; improve or implement strategy and plan to help best prepare for a variety of scenarios that would test your business’s resilience. This will ensure that all appropriate staff are trained and informed in implementation; finally, the risk-based approach will help to direct budget to the most vital gaps and assist with future budgeting. Obviously, the main benefit of outsourcing this service is knowing that all sides are covered and accounted for, with continuous reviews in place to ensure that the plan is as effective as can be.
If, however, you would rather create a plan internally then you can follow similar steps by creating your own plan and testing it to gain confidence in the system you’re implementing. Once again, you have to start by mapping your strengths and weaknesses (try to be very objective at this stage and don’t gloss over any points) together with current, if any, continuity measures. Start building a picture of potential outcomes at times of disaster and the scope of damage it would cause to your businesses. Consider having an employee dedicated to recovery and make sure that once your plan is in place all relevant staff are well-informed and trained on procedures. Lastly, your plan needs to be tested regularly if it’s to become a symbiotic part of your business practice.
We hope that after reading this you have been sufficiently persuaded that a Business Continuity Plan is an essential part of a sound and strategic approach to business. The fact remains that a large number of small businesses never recover following disaster and many more medium and large businesses incur significant costs and damage to operations when vulnerabilities are exploited. The world is becoming increasingly unpredictable with a rise in environmental disasters, extreme weather, and cyberattacks. Good planning makes for good business, ensuring the future of your operation.