At its core, business continuity is all about ensuring that your business is able to keep functioning at as close to full capacity as possible in the event of a major disaster. In order to make sure you’re sufficiently prepared for such an occurrence, you need to have a comprehensive plan in place. FSB take you through some business continuity essentials for your business.
Preparation is key
Let’s say, for example, that a fire has happened at your business. It has caused some significant structural damage and your core business premises are no longer fit for purpose, nor are you aware exactly of when your premises will be usable again. Does this completely shut down your business for the foreseeable future?
If it does, it’s because you hadn’t prepared an effective business continuity plan. To put one together, the owner(s) should would together with other business partners and experienced members of staff. As a group, consider things such as:
- Are staff able to work from home effectively?
- How to protect and access data?
- How much would the disruption affect our clients?
- What financial impact will this have, and are we prepared?
After identifying what your business needs to keep functioning, you can implement measures to mitigate the damage an incident will cause, rather than having to spontaneously react to an incident and be left operating at a severely reduced capacity, if at all.
For example, if you ensure that all electronic data is backed up externally or through the cloud, you could save yourself months of frustration trying to recover lost transaction information or rebuilding communication with clients.
Similarly, keeping a small number of laptops in a secure location offsite and distributing them around crucial staff members will allow your workflow to continue as close to original capacity as possible until you’re able to return to your premises or find alternative provisions.
Having a plan in place is an incredibly wise decision to protect your business, your financial situation, and your reputation with clients and customers. However, that doesn’t mean the process is ever simply “finished.”
If you add a new service to your business, for example, you need to consider the additional impact this will have in the event of an incident and how you’ll be able to best continue providing it until you’re back to full capacity. On the other hand, if you stop providing a service, then you should update your business continuity plan to reflect that all the same; there’s little use in a comprehensive document if a reasonable amount of it is no longer relevant to your business at all.
Essentially, you should think of it as: any major change to your business should be reflected in your plan. It could be anything from moving to new premises that may be near a local river, thus creating a flood risk, to losing some key staff members and having their role reflected in the document.
Even if nothing changes for your business, it’s still a good idea to examine the plan at certain intervals, such as every 6 or 12 months. This way, you will be forced to think about any potential new risks in your industry, or changes in the way you’re operating that you might not have considered to be significant.
There may seem like a great deal to consider when you’re putting together your business continuity plan, but, once you have one in place, you can be sure that your business will be safe should anything happen. Even if you never have to actually implement the measures you have in mind for any occurrence, the peace of mind and safety net provided is worth it all the same.