In the modern business environment, there are a host of disasters that can affect your business at any given time. You could experience issues as small as the ramifications felt from human error or cyberattacks, to larger-scale difficulties brought on by pandemics and even natural disasters. The good news is that there are ways to minimise the impact of these things and more, such as business continuity planning.
What is a business continuity plan?
The business continuity plan definition requires businesses to establish a risk management and protection strategy that will ensure continued operation. Business continuity plans are records that should be drawn up to cover all of the crucial information that a business will need in the event of a disaster. It will contain the most important aspects of risk management; from backing up documents, to protecting more advanced systems. As the risks a business will face can be diverse, it can be worthwhile to have a comprehensive business continuity plan in place.
In many cases, it will be the role of IT administrators to create the business continuity plan template, but higher-up members of staff and even HR representatives should be involved to ensure that every potential risk is covered to the best of the company’s ability. Once the plan has been properly compiled, it will be their responsibility to keep it updated as the business evolves and grows.
Four reasons why you need a business continuity plan
1. Data recovery
While it may be easy to go big and imagine the worst when thinking about potential disasters, it can be important to think much smaller to create a worthwhile business continuity plan. Some of the biggest issues facing modern businesses are data breaches and data deletion and these can occur for a number of very different reasons (for example human error or system breakdowns). This means that having the proper data recovery systems in place can minimise downtime and protect your business from negative customer opinions.
2. Insurance does not protect your data
In many cases, business insurance policies will cover physical damages that your business may incur (such as water damage from flooding), but data is not a quantifiable asset and will be overlooked. As cyberattacks are increasing in both volume and intelligence every year, it can be especially important to ensure that all of your data is secured and backed up so you’ll still have access to it in the worst-case scenario.
3. Maintain a competitive edge
The faster your business is able to respond to any issues, the less impact they will have on your operations and your clients or customers. If you have a well-defined business continuity plan in place, you will be more likely to have an advantage over your competitors.
4. Ensure the equity in your business
When you aren’t equipped to deal with issues, there are a host of factors that can impact the equity in your business, as your intellectual property and physical assets may be at risk.
Nine ways of creating your business continuity plan
When it comes to creating a business continuity plan examples can include:
- Gather contact information at the beginning of the plan
- Put a revision management process in place that will outline change management procedures
- Add the purpose and scope for the business continuity plan
- Include how to use the plan, including when it should be initiated
- Add relevant policy information
- Define the correct emergency response and management procedures
- Include easy-to-fill checklists and simple flow diagrams
- Add a glossary of terms used in the plan to ensure all individuals understand their tasks
- Create a schedule for reviewing, testing and updating
Key benefits of business continuity planning
- Maintain trading both during and after incidents occur
- Recover operations quicker and with less downtime
- Ensure compliance with regulatory or legal requirements
- Improve the overall safety of your workforce and potentially save lives
- Minimise the costs that can come with disruption
- Insure against unacceptable risks
- Mitigate risks
- Ensure customer confidence and safeguard your business’s reputation
How to implement a business continuity plan?
To implement a solid business continuity plan, use the following 6 steps as a guide:
- Identify the scope of the business continuity plan
- Identify key business areas where risks are prominent
- Identify critical functions within the business
- Identify any dependencies between relevant business areas and their functions
- Determine an acceptable level of downtime for risk management in each critical function
- Make sure your plan includes how to maintain operations going forward
It can be a good idea to have a supporting document that contains:
- A checklist for any supplies and equipment that will be necessary for continued function (this could include productivity tools like work time trackers and business travel management software)
- Locations for backup data and the corresponding websites where this may be placed
- Where individuals can access the plan
- Contact information for emergency services, key personnel and similar essential workers
Business continuity planning software can help you to manage everything and ensure the information contained within is secure and backed up.
Review and improve your business continuity plan
As a lot of time and effort needs to be dedicated to creating a comprehensive business continuity plan, it won’t make sense to set it up and leave it to function. This means that it can be a good idea to implement testing at every stage to ensure performance and continued functionality.
It’s no secret that technology is advancing at a rapid rate and while one aspect of the plan may be relevant now, it may not be in just a matter of weeks or months. Then there is the fact that workforces are more diverse than ever before and some data may be hard to access when employees are working from home, based in other countries, or even as individuals leave. Testing and reviewing of business continuity plans should happen at least once a year, but can be performed sooner and modified to suit the current needs of the business if unexpected events occur.