Business Continuity: Protecting Your Business

In this article, we’re going to take a look at Business Continuity. What is it? How do we plan for it? How can we implement those plans to keep our businesses resilient in the face of global transformation? Business Continuity might sound like the latest business buzzword, but in reality, it is a straightforward concept. However, there are many people – including managers, consultants, and CEOs – who devote little to no thought to Business Continuity or Business Continuity Planning. And yet, as the Coronavirus pandemic has shown us, Business Continuity Planning is more essential than ever. Let’s dive in.

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What Is Business Continuity?

To begin, let’s ask the question: what is Business Continuity? Even if the concept is unfamiliar to you, the business continuity definition is pretty self-explanatory. Business Continuity refers to a business’s ability to maintain its operations in the face of external, often disruptive threats/obstacles. The idea of a Business Continuity Plan is most relevant for truly unexpected shocks (such as a global pandemic or financial meltdown).

Ideally, owners, managers, and various stakeholders will work to establish a Business Continuity Plan at the beginning of a business’s formation. However, an outdated, inadequate, or nonexistent Business Continuity Plan can be updated/created at any time. So, how will you keep your operations resilient and your company in business even when everything else in the world falls apart? This is why a Business Continuity Plan is crucial.

Business Continuity Plan Example

Most managers are accustomed to tailoring their business operations to the economic conditions surrounding them. Why? The state of the economy has a great deal to do with what you can expect from customers, suppliers, partners, employees, etc. However, simply monitoring the direction of share prices on a few stock exchanges or the price flux of a few specific commodities relevant to your business does not encompass every obstacle that may get thrown at your business. Point in case? Covid-19.

In order to form a thorough Business Continuity Plan, you need to anticipate – as much as possible – a wide range of possible threats your business could face. Let’s take the Covid-19 pandemic as one possible Business Continuity Plan example. In 2019, for instance, you might have had a contingency plan for a pandemic. Many large organizations did, in fact, have such a thing. Several were even heavily insured for this eventuality, with processes in place for fluidly moving operations into a remote capacity as much as possible. Despite the economic downturn, up to 30% of such “future-ready businesses” have reported increased profits since the dawn of the coronavirus. A great deal of that can be chalked up to Business Continuity Planning.

“Corner Cafe” Example

For a more common example, let’s consider the corner cafe where you get your morning cup of coffee. If you were the owner of that coffee shop, you likely did not put much thought into the possibility of a global pandemic. If you didn’t have a Business Continuity Plan in place, virtually every aspect of your operation is upended when the pandemic hits.

Suddenly you cannot sell a product anymore because people cannot safely come into your store. The entire infrastructure for remote and contactless ordering has to be built out and you have to wait several weeks while the physical environment is renovated. Once it is, you still have to take care of the supply chains for your coffee beans, which were completely thrown out of whack. For a while, you don’t even have coffee to brew. In addition, you have no system in place for dealing with the labor shortage when many of your employees find the pandemic too unsafe – and unemployment checks too lucrative – to keep coming into work.

The coffee shop down the street, however, handled the pandemic very differently. With a Business Continuity Plan in place, they switched quickly to remote ordering, pickup, and payment systems. They shored up their workforce and supply chains immediately and established further systems to ensure the business’s continuity through the pandemic and beyond.

Business Continuity Plan Template

Every business is different. Likewise, every set of threats and contingencies for dealing with those threats will be different. However, there are enough commonalities that we can offer a basic Business Continuity Plan template. This will help you take an assessment of the potential threats your business faces and begin to create processes for mitigating those threats.

  1. Business Impact Analysis

This is the first step of any solid Business Continuity Plan. In order to know how to continue business operations, you’ll need to know what the actual impacts on your business will be. Consider every stage of operations and the relevant partnerships you have with other companies and how they might be affected.

  1. Recovery

In this part of the Business Continuity Plan, you identify the broad steps that must be taken to rectify the threats identified in the previous step. How can those threats be mitigated? Or how can they be transformed into opportunities that allow the business to continue operation?

  1. Organization

A good BCP (Business Continuity Plan) will provide for a dedicated team of people to help ensure continuity. This team, assigned by the BCP, will oversee the efforts to execute the BCP.

  1. Training

Even the most intricately designed BCP will fail if the necessary people don’t know how to implement it. Anyone who will be associated with the continuity effort must receive adequate implementation training. In the case of a threat, your workforce should not have to pause what they’re doing to receive emergency training.

Conclusion

Everyone wants a thriving business. We all dream of soaring portfolios, early retirement, expansion into new markets, etc. However, not every market allows for rapid and widespread capitalization in every moment. When threats arise, an owner or manager’s wildest dreams shrink to the basic task of just keeping the business alive. A Business Continuity Plan will help you make sure that no threat catches your business off-guard or takes it off the grid. We trust you found our business continuity plan example helpful towards the creation of your own.

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Filed Under: business consulting, Consulting skills, Corporate Training