There is just no way to make this topic sound “sexy” but get it wrong, and you’ll quickly learn the hard way. A lack of sufficient planning for an emergency or unforeseen events costs American businesses millions of dollars every year – and it’s smaller businesses that bear the biggest brunt of it.
So, what exactly does “Business Continuity” mean?
Business Continuity refers to the planning of specific policies and procedures that will ensure your business can continue to operate (at the very least on a critical level), in the event of an emergency or unforeseen event that would otherwise render it impossible to do so. Think about things like natural disasters, rioting or civil unrest, infrastructure failing and so on.
You might think that because you don’t live in Miami or Los Angeles that you’re safe from natural occurrences, but with climate change fuelling more extreme weather conditions than ever before, imagine trying to keep your office working if you were based in Nevada and your HVAC repair service couldn’t get to you? A crowded office in a State like Nevada with no air conditioning?
Up to 75% of businesses fail after a natural disaster because they had inadequate business planning.
How do I create a Business Continuity plan then, and what areas should it cover?
It’s always better to get the help of a specialized agency that knows your industry and can create a tailored and focused plan that works for your business. Along with these other functions, you should probably consider outsourcing for this one, if you don’t have staff that are specifically trained in this area.
You should include contingency planning for things like data security, backup power, alternative site operations, storm shelter planning (where applicable) access control and security planning if you’re in those industries. Having an emergency financial management plan that includes access to lines of credit (that are not used for any other purposes) and so on.
Your plan should be made with these 6 elements in consideration:
- What is the scope of the plan?
- What are your key or main business areas or operations?
- What are the most critical functions of your business without which your enterprise couldn’t function?
- What level of dependencies exists between your business and the businesses that operate in your sphere and what impact will a breakdown in these areas cause?
- If you had no other option, what is the maximum amount of downtime that these areas could experience before causing your business serious damage?
- Finally, based on all of your collective answers it’s time to create a continuity plan.
When all is said and done…
Everything that you need to make sure your business does its business hardly ever comes cheap. Rising insurance costs, permit fees, regulatory obligations and local legal and financial compliance requirements all form part of the necessary instruments that we have to have to conduct business and no one (usually) gets excited about it. But the real cost of not having insurance or ensuring correct legal compliance is exponentially higher – the cost of not having continuity planning? Everything. As in, you could lose everything.