Establish Organizational Resiliency With Business Continuity Plans
Business continuity is the discipline of keeping essential functions up and running during periods of disruption with the goals of recovering with as little downtime and incurring as few negative impacts as possible. Recent events have brought business continuity to the forefront of many companies’ strategic initiatives. The latest On The Move webinar, Building Business Continuity Plans to Maintain Operations, reviewed the key components of business continuity plans and discussed how companies can develop prevention, response and recovery strategies that align with their essential business goals.
Regardless of the size or type of company, the first key step of this process is to identify which functions are essential and must be maintained during the time of disruption. This is important in determining the initial scope and/or critical purpose of a business continuity plan. Many organizations make the mistake of taking an “all or nothing” approach to plan development and overlook the opportunity to address their most critical or time-sensitive products and services — not realizing that they can expand the plan scope over time.
Understanding and defining the overall purpose of your business continuity plan is essential to determining its effectiveness. It is important to realize that it may not be possible for your organization to maintain all functions in times of crisis or uncertainty, so identifying your plan’s primary purpose is imperative to establishing resiliency in your core business operations.
When considering how a potential disruption would impact your business or your customers, start by asking a few key questions:
- What are the immediate impacts to your customers (loss of essential services)?
- How long would it take to get the proper resources in place to restore business continuity?
- Who are the key stakeholders (both externally and internally), and how will they be communicated to?
- What are the impacts to your organization (financial, reputation, etc.)?
Components of a robust business continuity plan
Once you’ve defined the purpose and scope of your initial business continuity plan, the next step is to build out a plan designed to mitigate risks of disruptions and shorten the response and recovery times. Plan details vary widely among different companies — depending on fulfillment models, customer expectations and financial objectives — so it’s important to develop a business continuity plan designed to achieve your business goals. Key plan components include:
- Goals — Define what is most important for your organization during an operational disruption, such as: protecting the safety of employees and others in facilities; maintaining customer service by minimizing impacts; and safeguarding physical assets and brand reputation.
- Risk analysis — Determine your organization’s risk tolerance by identifying key areas of exposure, potential weak spots and interdependencies.
- Business impact analysis — Evaluate the effects that the identified risks could have on critical business functions in the event of disruption. Impacts include: financial (loss of sales, increased expenses); market (loss of market share and/or customers); operational (shifts in volume, contingency models); resources (increased absenteeism, loss of skills); supply chain (loss of critical products/components, delays); and subcontractors (reduced capacity and access to skills).
- Response and recovery plan — Define how to maintain essential functions; know exactly what to do and when; determine where help is coming from.
- Restoration plan — Understand process and organizational changes that must be made once operations stabilize; identify any required long-term changes.
In today’s uncertain business environment, not having a comprehensive business continuity plan in place poses significant risks to your organization — and could potentially extend the recovery process and unnecessarily waste precious time and money. To learn more about developing a business continuity plan that aligns with your business goals, view our webinar Building Business Continuity Plans to Maintain Operations.