With so many potential disasters and crises looming around the business environment, it’s essential that your business has an effective continuity plan in place.
Business continuity is often described as common sense, but it’s so much more than that. Yes, it has elements of common sense but it is more about taking real responsibility for your business and making sure it will stay roughly on course regardless of what disasters befall you.
Not sure exactly what business continuity (or BC) is? As part of their ISO standards, Praxium Research define BC as the“capability of an organisation to continue delivery of products or services at acceptable predefined levels following a disruptive incident”. We think of it as your business’ ability to manage and work through any potential crisis, disaster or incident that pops up that could ultimately affect your business’ ability to carry on as usual.
The main focus of a continuity plan is resilience, building and continually improving your business’ agility/flexibility. It involves identifying, preparing and planning for any type of real or virtual disaster that your business might encounter. Especially for small businesses – a crisis can really hit hard, whether it be financial, a natural disaster or even technological melt-down.
We all know how much it stinks to lose work you’ve been working on for a couple of hours – imagine if you lost all, and I mean ALL of your business data – your client lists, your billings, your receipts, those precious blueprints you were about to patent. And yes, it really does happen.
But what does it takes to build a continuity plan?
4 steps to building a business continuity plan
Step One: Analyse
This step is the most crucial part of the planning process. In order to plan for possible incidents, you must be able to identify them first! So take some time to understand the business environment in which you operate, and think of every possible problem that could occur. A “what if” approach is critical in this stage. It even helps to be a little paranoid.
Step Two: Prioritise
You will find that there’ll be some issues that are more relevant and more likely to occur than others. So it’s important to put those at the top of your priority list. But what you’ll find is that if you plan around your top 3-5, you’ll probably also inadvertently create a plan of sorts for most of the others too.
Step Three: Plan
Now you have your potential issues listed in order of importance, start by analysing the issue and developing a continuity plan for each. You’ll need to think about how it would affect your business in terms of operations, your ability to service your clients or produce your goods, your overall financials (and ability to pay your bills) and your business’ reputation. Then brainstorm several ideas for what you could do now that might either prevent the issue happening or mitigate the damage if it should happen. Hint: it could be as simple as having an extra technology system backup plan in place or remote working log-ins for staffers, insurance to cover some what if’s or a friends garage to bunk the office in should the worst happen.
Step Four: Implement
For a plan to be effective, you have to be able to action it throughout every level of your business. Don’t put it off – put something in place now. And, don’t forget the most crucial part of implementation is communication. So once your plan has been put in place, communicate it to all of your employees including any long-standing contractors. You could even hold a ‘mock event’ – to identify any holes in your plan. Sounds silly.. but it works.
It can be a daunting process to get your head around but once you have your plan in place, should anything befall you, you’ll be very glad you did.
If we can help take some of your admin off your hands so you can focus on ensuring your business runs as smoothly as possible or provide you with flexible term office space and extra help at the drop of a hat, we’d be delighted to talk to you. You can call us on 9994 8000 or drop us a note.