What would your business do if a natural disaster broke the grid? Would you be able to survive a week-long power outage? What about a cyberattack or even something as intractable as a global pandemic?
If you don’t have answers to these questions, you need a business continuity plan.
Planning for emergencies and disasters is essential to maintain operations. Read on to learn why a business continuity plan is a critical step for your organization.
Why Do You Need a Business Continuity Plan?
Disasters are affecting businesses more and more. Whether a disaster comes in the form of a catastrophic fire, a hurricane, or a cyberattack, its damage can hobble business operations. Sometimes, a disaster can lead to a company’s downfall.
Disasters can be human-made and not just natural. Cyberattacks, like denial-of-service phishing and ransomware attacks, can prove costly and bring operations to a standstill.
Here are the biggest disruptors and why each can affect business operations so severely:
1. Natural Disasters
Any form of natural disaster—whether it’s a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or even a volcano—can leave a business destroyed in its wake. Natural disasters can cause structural damage and power outages, and they can interfere with the supply chain.
2. Global Pandemics
This year, just two months into the pandemic, an estimated 100,000 businesses in the U.S. shut down, presumably for good.
In many ways, the pandemic has been one of the most insidious of interrupters. From disrupting supply chains to forcing closures to downsizing work staff, the pandemic has hobbled businesses on every physical plane possible.
3. Utility Outages
Every business, whether physical or online, needs power to operate. When a disaster takes out a power supply, it can mean an expensive delay in a company’s ability to function.
It doesn’t even take a natural disaster to cause a power outage. With a grid as notoriously delicate as ours, even a hungry squirrel can cause an outage.
4. Cyber Attacks
Cyberattacks, even though they are human-made, are a form of disaster nonetheless. From denial of service attacks to ransomware attacks, cyberattacks can prove just as debilitating as any other disaster.
Ransomware attacks can cost companies, and even cities, millions in lost revenue, as well as their workforce. The ransom is the least of the expenses, as the attack forces operations into paper-mode or complete shutdown.
No type of business is immune to a disaster. It’s important to know what your particular vulnerabilities are as you set about creating your disaster recovery plan.
At Bridge Head I.T., our team can identify the threats and vulnerabilities most relevant to your business. Even during the pandemic, when online companies seem immune from massive disruption, cybercrime is on the rise.
When you understand that you are just as vulnerable as any other business, you can take the right steps to survive significant disruptors. There’s no better way to plan for the worst than with a business continuity emergency plan.
The Business Continuity Plan
A business continuity plan outlines the procedures needed to keep operations running during a disaster. It also outlines processes to restore business as quickly as possible after shut down.
Business continuity is a recent buzzword, thanks to the pandemic. It’s such a relevant topic that insurance companies have begun offering business interruption insurance.
At this point, business continuity insurance may be close to worthless (like buying auto insurance after the accident), but it does point to more awareness regarding business continuity.
But there’s no insurance like a good plan.
Whether you are an online business, a brick-and-mortar, or anywhere in between, there are a few essential qualities that a business continuity program must have:
Make your business continuity plan as comprehensive as possible. Look at every possible occurrence, from power outages to staff shortages to ransomware.
What’s the bare minimum of internet service you can operate on? Can you take and fulfill orders by hand? If it seems worth it, do you purchase a backup generator in the event of a power outage?
All of these are just some of the questions you should ask yourself when making your business continuity disaster plan.
Business continuity disaster planning should consider the adaptability of your plan. If things need to change, is there any room to adapt if, say, the disruption is intermittent?
The pandemic has shown us the need to be adaptable, as disruptions don’t just come and go in a nice neat package. Agility means adapting to a situation, not only once, but as often as needed.
Is your plan for business continuity efficient and easy to execute? Is it within the means of your staff’s current capabilities? In a nutshell, if the disaster were to happen tomorrow, would you be able to shift quickly?
It’s good to be comprehensive and adaptable, but if your plan is too complicated, expensive, or otherwise unrealistic, it won’t work come game day.
So, above all else, make sure your plan is practical.
How to Craft a Business Continuity Plan
To create an effective business continuity plan, you need to be clear on your business’ foundation. One of the great things about planning for disaster is it forces you to take inventory of the essential aspects of your business.
These are the three most significant steps you need to take when crafting your business continuity disaster plan.
1. Identify Key Business Processes
What is the true nature of your business? What’s ancillary? You should already be able to outline what brings in the most revenue. Then your focus can be on ways to preserve those streams during a disaster.
For example, if you are an online business that ships goods and earns significant ad revenue from your website, how would a supply chain disruption affect you?
Realistic numbers in the form of a business impact analysis will make your plan more practical. When you have to pivot, where and by how much?
If you are a customer service-based industry with staff, to what extent can you transition your services online? It will prove critical to know, in detail, how much of your operations can translate to other venues.
2. Recognize Dependencies
What (or who) can your business not survive without? If you ship merchandise from China and do nothing else, you will have a much greater dependency on a functioning supply chain than a restaurant.
If you are a restaurant, you may depend somewhat on the supply chain for food. However, a mandatory shut down would impact you more than a supply chain disruption that forces a few items off your menu.
Whether your dependencies are spread around or condensed into a single partner, it helps to identify where you are interdependent with others.
3. Craft the Plan
Now it’s time to outline the plan itself. What are the exact procedures you need to resume operations? Identifying the steps and a timeline will help mitigate the damage done by a disaster.
Crafting your plan might mean understanding what your close partners are capable of (or not) during a disaster, as your fates are intertwined.
For example, if your business is tech-based, what kind of support can you expect from your outsourced infrastructure management? If you want the most reliable, comprehensive services when it comes to disaster management of networks, choose Bridge Head I.T.
The Benefits of a Business Continuity Plan
Business continuity planning carries many benefits. If you take the time now, before even further disaster strikes, you can ensure business survival on many fronts.
A business continuity plan will enable you to:
Maintain Business Operations
Mere survival should be enough incentive to create a disaster plan. Consider the fact that, even if you don’t shut down completely, slowed business operations can be a death knell if you depend mainly on cash flow.
Mitigate Financial Risk
Even if you don’t shut down completely, planning can help a disaster be less financially damaging to your company. In the end, this can translate to a faster recovery.
Gain a Competitive Edge
A business continuity plan can give you an edge over the competition. If you’ve planned ahead and your competitor hasn’t, who do you think will end up stronger on the other side?
Bolster Your Reputation
If your customers see that you’re still operating, that sends a positive message. It conveys that you’ve done your due diligence and planned ahead. Surviving a disaster can build customer confidence and do wonders for your brand.
Get Premiere Support
Whatever the nature of your business is, it’s critical to design a continuity business plan. If you operate in the tech space, take the time to get the support you’ll need in the event of significant disruption.
Our company provides the most comprehensive tech support in the industry. From cloud solutions to design to project management and even conference room design, our team can provide what your business needs to be successful.
Contact us today for a complete security analysis or to design your next big app.