The world as we know it is changing. The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has left many organizations grappling with how to conduct their day-to-day in new ways. Many are looking for new ways to do business while others are going to a completely remote workforce, which comes with its own set of challenges.
A critical component of any organization’s survival is business continuity planning.
Business continuity planning is the process of creating processes and systems for the prevention, recovery, and ongoing execution of your organization during times of threat or disaster. In other words, a business continuity plan answers how you’ll maintain business functions in the event of a major disruption.
While COVID-19 may have thrust the need for a survival plan into the limelight, business continuity planning is essential beyond just times of crisis. It must be part of your overall business strategy.
What threats are most likely to face your business? Focus on developing plans to address your areas of highest risk – including, but not limited to, the natural disasters that are common in your area. But remember that unexpected hacks and viral pandemics can be just as damaging to your business.
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For each risk type, there will be differing outcomes. For example, a flood or natural disaster may keep you from receiving your inventory shipments. The “trickle-down” effect would be an inability to fulfill orders.
Alternatively, a ransomware attack would likely not deter your ability to fulfill, but it may affect your processing or access to documents or tools.
Think through and outline the cause-and-effect. How would this affect the continuity of your daily operations? What steps can you take to ensure that if you cannot fulfill an order, that you can still make sales?
Starting with your areas of highest risk, document your continuity plan. We suggest focusing first on your core business functions – like your ability to earn revenue, serve customers, and manage your supply chain. Prioritize high impact processes, and look for potential disruptions to productivity, compliance, revenue, and reputation.
If you cannot receive or fulfill shipments, but you still have the ability to process orders, can you establish an emergency dropship plan with your key suppliers? Planning ahead allows for a much smoother process should you ever need to use it.
Outline your emergency strategy and communicate it both internally and externally. It’s a good idea to have your communication plan outlined and templated in advance so your team is not scrambling to write last-minute notices to customers and suppliers in the moment. For internal communication, call or text “trees” are an efficient way to get the message out to your team in the case of a weather-related office closure or emergency.
A key component of any disaster recovery plan is your tech and tools. It’s also the piece most commonly overlooked.
Running your business in the cloud is an effective way to prepare for the unexpected. Anywhere, anytime access to your key information and systems is a major benefit to cloud-based tools. Collaboration tools like Microsoft Office 365 make meeting from afar a breeze, and cloud storage keeps all your key data easily accessible when going to the office is out of the question. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions like Azure allow for built-in security and easy management of your IT environment in the cloud.
Of course, it’s not the cloud or nothing. Your network and IT need extra care in the case of a business disruption. Here are a few areas to keep in mind, especially if you’re running in a more traditional environment.
Our world is incredibly interconnected. Most organizations are extremely reliant on technology in their daily, even hourly, operations. That’s why including a disaster recovery plan for your technology is critical. Here are a few items to consider when it comes to your technology preparedness:
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Data breaches are an increasing threat to organizations. Even in the wake of disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic, cybersecurity concerns need to be top of mind. Cybersecurity is an organization-wide issue and education from the top down is critical in preventing cybersecurity threats.
That’s why outlining cybersecurity prevention and mitigation measures are critical to your business continuity plan. Ensuring you have a system in place to handle such threats and immediately react to them will enable you to get back to business as usual.
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Business valuations are independent appraisals of the worth of your company and its potential sale price. Having your organization appraised early and often will help you understand your current financial well-being, as well as make plans for the future of your business.
When a business compromising event occurs, the value of your business is inevitably altered. Ensuring you have an accurate picture of your business’ value ahead of time, as well as monitoring its worth throughout the business threat, will help you understand how to come back from a potential loss.
Another critical way to help restore the value of your business is through the use of data. Business leaders can use their data to survive and thrive during times of economic uncertainty. Utilizing your organization’s data can drive lean performance and provide actionable takeaways for your business, including:
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It’s important to remember that your employees are affected by a disaster or threat to your organization too. Ensuring your human resources department is in the loop of your business continuity plan will be critical.
Key HR Considerations:
Make sure you think through how a triggering event will affect the people within your organization. After all, they will be on the frontline to help you return to normal business procedures once the threat or disaster has ended.
Could your business survive and operate as “business as usual” in the face of a disaster? Be it the next devastating hurricane, a new wave of wildfires, an earthquake, flood, or the current pandemic we’re experiencing? The threat is real, and it can come in many forms, at any time.
No one likes to think about threats to their livelihood or their company’s well-being. Yet there’s never been a more pressing time to have a business continuity plan.
❯❯❯COVID-19 is impacting the way we all do business.
We've developed a series of resources to help you make sense of it all.Learn More
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