What is business continuity and why is it important?
When an emergency, disaster or related incident occurs a business must be able to continue its operations if it is to remain functional. Business Continuity refers to this ability for a company to maintain functionality despite any setbacks that are occurring internally or externally to the organisation.
Business continuity is so important because without it, a business will be unable to continue their operations if an emergency, disaster, or related event strikes. During this day and age where downtime is unacceptable by consumers, it’s imperative your business equips itself with the capability and tools to efficiently continue operations no matter the event.
For example, some threats such as a cyber-attack or extreme weather event is a likely scenario that may occur at any time without any warning. In fact, these days it seems these events are becoming more and more likely. By having a business continuity plan in place to deal with these scenarios, you maintain your resiliency whilst also saving time and money in keeping your business operational.
The components of a successful business continuity plan
Strong business continuity consists of the following 4 stages of the business continuity lifecycle:
Planning is the first step in the business continuity lifecycle and arguably one of the most important. By planning for a wide variety of emergencies, disasters or related incidents, your business continuity plan gives your business and its stakeholders a clear direction on how to maintain resilience.
Your business continuity plan should endeavour to identify all the key vulnerabilities and responsibilities you have to consider and work through in the event of disruption.
. On top of that, it should also outline and design processes to remain resilient. Things like staffing rotations, data redundancy and maintaining a surplus of capacity are all examples of actions your plan could include to remain resilient.
Training & Exercise
Business continuity should be a process that is constantly changing and evolving – it should never simply sit on a shelf once it is planned out. For starters, the business continuity should be communicated to as many people that it impacts as possible. It is fundamental to your business resilience your stakeholders and staff are all trained on how to follow the processes within your plan.
This testing is critical to the success of your business continuity plans when an actual emergency does arise. Without this testing phase, how do you know if the plan works when a real emergency does happen?
Training exercises can include tabletop exercises, emergency evacuation exercises, shelter in place exercises and more.
Our realistic scenario-based exercises are tailor made to your organisation and are our most sought after offering in the business continuity space.
You’ve now outlined your business continuity plan, trained your staff and performed exercises to mimic the plan. What’s next? Once training & exercises have been completed, notes should be taken on what worked and what didn’t; and the plan updated accordingly.
This process of tweaking and updating your business continuity plan helps your organisation maintain its resilience; not only for threats that we know of today but also those which become apparent in the future.
Common challenges businesses face with continuity planning
Although business continuity plans are designed to aid your business with unprecedented challenges you may have to face, continuity planning also harbours several challenges. The most common of these challenges include:
Lack of resources
When the business is operating as intended, the likelihood of a disaster is often downplayed and ignored. Diverting resources to business continuity programs may slow down business growth when the benefits of the plan are only apparent when things are going wrong.
Despite this lack of benefits, when an emergency does strike the value of a business continuity plan is immense. To better understand this and justify the diversion of resources – try making a clear budget of the exact cost to your business if things go wrong compared to the cost of a business continuity plan.
Lack of organisational engagement
It can be difficult to get members of your business to be engaged with the business continuity plan. Even during training or exercises, staff members are not guaranteed to pay as much attention to the plan as you would like. This can mean that the effectiveness of the plan is impacted negatively by staff members not knowing how to follow the plan.
One way to potentially help with this issue is to involve staff members in the planning stage – helping them better understand why the plan is so important and how it can protect them and their livelihood.
As outlined earlier your staff and relevant stakeholders must be trained in order to effectively carry out the plans in your business continuity plan. However, as new threats arise your business continuity plan will constantly be changing and updating as time goes on.
On top of this, your staff members are likely to one day no longer be a part of your business. When they leave, so does their knowledge of your business continuity plan and their replacement will also need training.
To help mitigate this, try using training methods such as flexible online options to help make training as accessible as possible and not impede on business operations.
As mentioned earlier, despite our strong understanding of current day threat environment there will always be new threats that become possibilities in the future. It can be difficult to keep up with these changing threats into the future.
One of the best ways to overcome these increasing complexities is to hire experts to keep up with these changes for you.
Business continuity allows your business to continue its operations and minimise impacts in the face of emergencies and threats. It’s imperative you equip yourself with the capability and tools to overcome these challenges no matter the event.
RiskLogic is a premier business continuity services provider, having serviced some of Australasia’s largest organisations and supporting them in their journey toward resilience. Contact us today to discuss your own businesses resilience and business continuity planning.