Businesses big and small face several challenges, from burglary and natural disasters to ransomware attacks and economic crises globally. In fact, businesses worldwide are still reeling from the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While some economies are slowly recovering, the idea of bouncing back to pre-pandemic conditions may still not be possible for most. But those that have established sound business continuity plans (BCP) have fared better than most.
The truth is that there’s not enough foresight and planning that can ensure a company’s resilience against any emergency. But a business continuity plan can help keep it up and running and help it bounce back faster to minimize damage and losses.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to business continuity, there are some fundamental aspects that you should consider. First, you should ask:
What are the top threats to your business?
Threats could vary, depending on the nature of your business. But there are big ones whose effects can be far-reaching. These include:
- Global pandemics – when outbreaks become pandemics, the world starts to panic, stock prices go down, and borders close, cutting supply chains across the globe, with uncertainty being the biggest threat.
- Natural disasters – calamities like floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and tsunamis may only take place in a few seconds to a few days. Still, the damage they bring can be permanent, making them a huge threat to businesses.
- Power outages – utility outages can be a big problem for businesses that rely on power to maintain their operations. This is why having emergency power generators, and server room UPS systems are a must.
- Cybersecurity – cybercrime like ransomware has become a growing problem, and gangs are coming up with more sophisticated ways to attack businesses and cause significant damage. The recent hit on Colonial Pipeline is a case in point.
Characteristics of a Good Business Continuity Plan
A sound business continuity plan should have the following characteristics for it to be effective:
- Realistic – drills and tests can help ensure that your plan can be realistically executed by you and your employees. Be sure to consider all possible factors and plan for each one of them.
- Comprehensive – it’s important to cover several aspects of your business as a small crack can easily lead to collapse. Make sure to keep an open mind and get input from your stakeholders.
- Adaptable – natural disasters and large-scale crises can be quite unpredictable, which is why a BCP should apply to a wide range of scenarios.
- Efficient – plans are useful if not executed right, so you and your team must be trained to execute that plan correctly and efficiently. Time can be of the essence in most business continuity scenarios.
Creating your Business Continuity Plan
- Identify goals and objectives – having smart goals and objectives is one of the keys to a successful business continuity plan. They keep you focused and on track and ensure accountability and ownership.
- Set up a BCP team – from the get-go, you should identify the members that will carry out your emergency preparedness initiatives. There should be at least one representative per department. Make sure to vet your members carefully and provide adequate resources and continuous training.
- Identify your most essential operations – it’s hard to protect all aspects of your business, especially during an emergency. To increase your chances of success, identify the essential aspects of your business and find out how to protect them the best way possible.
- Perform a risk assessment – to make sure you know specific threats to your business. You’ll need to conduct a risk assessment or impact analysis. This should tell you what the specific impact will be should a specific function fail and if your response plan actually works.
- Review your BCP regularly – regardless of the level and number of risks, it’s important to hold BCP reviews and revisions at least twice a year. This way, you can uncover issues that weren’t raised before or rethink a strategy that may not work. More importantly, remember to retrain your staff and update your plan once a year to keep it relevant and more robust.
Running a business without a recovery plan keeps you and your employees in the dark in the event of an emergency. If there’s one thing businesses learned from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that nothing is ever certain and that the world can change in the blink of an eye. But if you have a robust business continuity plan, you can maintain your operations, prevent layoffs, protect your supply chain, maintain consumer and supplier trust, and the list goes on.