A business process continuity plan can dramatically reduce the negative impacts of a business disruption.
In an uncertain and volatile economy, having a continuity plan can mean the difference between survival and failure. Developing an effective plan, therefore, should be a prerogative in the digital age.
Not all businesses have experience in this field, however, so we have collected a few quick tips and techniques that can streamline the continuity planning process.
Business Process Continuity Plan Tips and Tactics
Follow these tips to improve your business continuity planning process:
Assess and analyze
Certain disruptions pose a greater risk than others – and certain disruptions will have a deeper impact on the business than others.
But how do you prioritize these disruptions during the planning process?
There are two keys:
- Risk assessments. A risk assessment gauges which types of disruptions pose a greater threat to the organization. In some cases, certain types of severe weather events may pose a greater risk. Certain types of cyber attacks may pose a greater threat to some organizations and not as great a threat to others.
- Business impact analyses. Determining the impact that these disruptions will have on the organization is the next step. A business impact analysis will predict in detail how these disruptions would affect output, productivity, and financial performance.
Once these are complete, it will be possible to develop plans that are more targeted, appropriate, and effective.
Communication is crucial during any business continuity plan, which is why it is important to create a communication strategy.
The communication strategy should outline:
- Who to contact
- When to contact them
- How the information is to be presented
For example, at the outset of any business process continuity plan, it is important to contact the business continuity team, as well as business leaders, key customers, and perhaps even government agencies.
Develop emergency response plans
Life-threatening emergencies, such as natural disasters or workplace accidents, often require an immediate and decisive response.
An emergency response plan is the answer.
First and foremost, these plans are designed to protect human life through evacuation, sheltering, and similar activities.
Once the response has been successful, response teams can focus on protecting business assets.
When developing a business continuity plan that is part of an emergency response effort, it is important to begin with a plan that focuses on keeping people safe.
Create disaster recovery plans
A disaster recovery plan is intended to restore lost business assets.
An IT disaster recovery plan, for example, focuses on restoring data and IT functionality, often through the use of backup software.
IT recovery plans are not, however, the only types of disaster recovery plans.
Recovery and restoration should be aimed at reversing the losses incurred during the initial disruption.
For example, if a workforce relocates to a new workspace as part of an emergency response effort, then restoration activities would focus on returning to the workplace and resuming work as soon as possible.
Or, if an office is damaged during a fire, then recovery efforts would revolve around the repair and restoration of the office.
Regardless of the type of disruption or the nature of the restoration activities, recovery and restoration efforts should form a core part of any response effort.
Design for multiple scenarios
Different types of disruptions will require different responses.
Though it is possible to predict the potential impacts of these disruptions, it is nearly impossible to predict where, when, or if they will occur.
For that reason, it is important to develop several plans that cover several risk scenarios, such as:
- IT disasters. IT disasters can include cyber attacks, data breaches, IT system failures, as well as any IT failures that result from other types of disruptions, such as natural disasters. Improving digital resilience can include IT disaster recovery plans, as well as preventative measures, such as cyber security software and services.
- Natural disasters. Natural disasters, such as floods or earthquakes, can threaten both human life and the organization’s operations. To reduce the risks associated with these disasters, it is necessary to develop emergency response plans, while also installing systems and hardware, such as fire alarms, fire escapes, and evacuation maps.
- Workplace accidents and hazards. Many workplace accidents can be prevented with the right procedures, workflows, and safety systems. In addition to these preventative measures, however, it is important to develop appropriate response plans, including emergency response plans and business continuity plans.
These should all be revealed during the risk assessment covered above – what is important, however, is to focus not just on the riskiest factor, but on any risk factors that pose a significant potential threat.
Become more resilient
Business continuity plans, emergency response plans, and other types of response efforts are vital and can significantly dampen the losses that result from disruption.
However, these response efforts are not the only methods for mitigating risk.
Enhancing organizational resilience means developing a multi-pronged strategy that includes:
- Increasing digital maturity and digital resilience
- Developing a robust information security program
- Creating a company culture that is skilled, adaptable, and flexible
- Improving organizational agility
- Preventing workplace-related hazards through proper work procedures and protocols
- Creating process continuity plans designed to respond quickly and effectively to disruptions
- Improve overall employee performance, productivity, and adaptability through effective training programs
Resilience, in other words, is a holistic strategy that takes a proactive approach to both preventing and mitigating disruptions.