At iSTORM, we believe that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. To ensure you are better prepared we’re going to highlight why business continuity is important. Any organisation can be affected by several failures from issues with the supply chain to a cyber attack or a global pandemic. Knowing what to do in these situations is what matters most and how you can overcome them.
What is business continuity?
Business continuity is about strategizing and developing a plan to deal with difficult situations, to help your organisation function with minimal disruption in case something happens. It doesn’t matter what the nature of your business is, every organisation should understand how to keep going despite the circumstance.
The planning and level of effort for a business continuity plan will vary for every organisation depending on its needs, but there should always be the effort to have something in place.
Some of the scenarios that should/can be accounted for in business continuity plans include:
- Physical disruption, i.e. natural disasters
- Data loss or breach
- Power outages
- Network outages
- Emergency communication
Why should you have a business continuity plan?
Anything can happen to your business at any moment. Often these tend to be unforeseen circumstances that you can’t plan in detail for or way in advance.
If something did happen to your organisation you can only imagine the stress you may feel if you had to think of how to manage it on the spot.
That’s why having a business continuity plan is important. It will make coping with several problems easier and help the business act quickly and more effectively. The plan will contain detailed policies on several scenarios you have considered that could affect your organisation. At the time of a crisis, you then know what the relevant steps are to take to ensure minimal disruption to organisational activity.
The business continuity plan you have in place will demonstrate to customers, insurers, and investors that the organisation is robust enough to cope with difficulties.
As well a demonstrating a level of robustness, it will give you a competitive edge as you’re unlikely to lose any business to your competitors because of being well prepared.
What are the benefits of a business continuity plan?
Now that we’ve covered what business continuity is and why you should have a plan, let’s explore the benefits of having that plan in place.
Benefit One: Minimise your financial loss
Businesses can only make money when they are operational, if something was to happen to this operation it would mean some financial loss due to unfulfillment. As well as not being able to operate as usual you will also incur charges if you need to repair any damages that may have occurred during a crisis/event.
You can minimise the financial loss to your organisation by having a robust business continuity plan in place. It will help you outline the process for continuing to be operational, should that mean working from home or an additional unit you have elsewhere. The regular backups of your data copies will help you to continue where you left off, this is a key part of any business continuity plan to avoid large disruptions.
Benefit Two: Confidence and assurance amongst employees
When things happen that are out of the organisation’s control, it can cause employees and clients to become anxious. They will be affected by what happened and will no doubt want to know what the outcome is and what the future holds.
Creating a business continuity plan will give your employees and clients the much-needed reassurance regarding the organisation and its ability to continue functioning with little to no disruption in a disaster. Employees understanding and knowing that nothing can affect the business even in the event of a crisis will give them more confidence regarding their job security. This will ensure no processes are affected on this front either and staff remains happy with what they are doing. This will also ensure that clients will remain confident about the service quality that they are receiving.
As a result of being able to look after staff and clients and giving them the confidence, they need you will no doubt benefit from a good reputation.
Benefit Three: Avoid disruption to your services
Any organisation in any industry will know that customer assurance is one of the most important promises you will make to clients. If you have an incident and are unprepared you will let your clients down, especially if the services that you offer are time-sensitive. If you have a comprehensive business continuity plan in place that has been agreed with key service providers, you can ensure that your promise to clients will remain intact.
Benefit Four: Competitive advantage
If your business continuity plan is robust and has effective controls in place to manage a crisis, you’re likely to fulfill your customer’s orders meaning they won’t need to go elsewhere. It also demonstrates to new customers that you can respond, recover, and resume business operations even in a disaster. This significantly adds to your credibility.
Benefit Five: Peace of mind
You’ll know that running a business is stressful and having a chance to reduce that stress is an opportunity that everyone seeks. Having something unexpected happen to your organisation like a disaster or cyber incident is up with being one of the most stressful situations to be in. So many things will be running through your head along with the pressure of everyone you are accountable for.
That’s why business continuity plans are one of the most stress-relieving documents you will create. If there is an incident that needs to be accounted for, you’ll know exactly what to do in that situation. You’ll be at peace knowing that there is a solution that can be implemented straight away and the recovery process to all your hard work can begin without delay.
How often should you review and test your business continuity plan?
Once you have created a business continuity plan, you must test it straight away. Everything that is detailed within the plan to help with disaster response should be practical and achievable. The test of the plan will allow you to know if what you have devised does what it is supposed to do.
The best ways in which you can test your business continuity plan are to do checklist tests, walk-throughs with employees, and scheduled simulations. This will highlight any issues with the plan, such as gaps in employees’ knowledge, do they need more training on how to execute this if it happens. You will also understand if there are any steps you forgot to account for or have realised there is a better way of doing so, if so, you can implement these changes so that your plan is more efficient and practical for use.
As for the future, you must review the plan annually to account for any changes within the organisation that may have occurred such as company growth, new processes, or technology. You should then immediately test it once you’ve reviewed it and made changes to ensure that is still effective.
Regarding testing your business continuity plan this will depend on your organisation including any major changes. Most organisations tend to aim to test their play at least two to four times a year.
How can iSTORM support you with your business continuity planning?
At iSTORM, we know and believe that an effective business continuity plan is much more than having a documented plan. We know how important it is for our customers to know that they can keep their business moving no matter what happens. Having an effective plan in place will help your organisation to prepare for difficult and unexpected situations so that you can continue to operate when it matters most.
Our specialist consultants will work with your organisation to determine the potential risks that could affect your business, before helping you devise a plan that can help your organisation to keep operating in the event of a crisis.
Want to start your journey to creating an effective business continuity plan? Get in touch.