The world is a volatile place, and few things are more disruptive than running a business. That means you’re vulnerable to a whole host of potential problems. Yet the good news is that you don’t have to sit back and wait for them to happen — taking action to prepare beforehand helps to keep things ticking over as smoothly as possible, and one of the best methods at your disposal is business continuity planning (BCP).
Let’s take a look at what exactly BCP is and why it matters so much.
What is business continuity planning?
83% of risk managers updated their business continuity plans over the past year. But what exactly are we talking about here?
A business continuity plan is a document a company lays out to figure out what it will do if it faces a wide range of incidents — whether that’s a storm wreaking havoc on an office or a technical error that results in IT systems going down.
These plans focus on how to prevent certain outcomes from happening and figuring out how to mitigate problems if they do occur. And they also prepare for the worst by finding ways to combat negative outcomes, recover operations to get back on track and return to business as usual.
Business continuity planning is also an ongoing process. Organizations need to test and rehearse them so that everyone in the team knows what to do and what to expect if the scenarios being planned for really happening. Think of BCP as a mixture between process improvement and an insurance policy.
Four steps to effective business continuity planning
A business continuity plan is vital, but it can only be as effective as you make it. To boost your chances of success, pay attention to the following four aspects:
Let’s look at all of them in a little more detail.
No matter what a company’s value proposition is, it can’t succeed without having the right people behind it — your team is crucial for keeping everything going in the case of a crisis. Continuity planning favors agile teams with excellent communication, who can move quickly and take action when things go wrong.
Plus, if everyone is in the role that fits them best and has the right training behind them, they’ll have the best chance of overcoming any difficulties they encounter.
Processes Even if your team are superstars, you still need the right processes to back them up. To do this, the first step is streamlining daily tasks to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. Yet continuity planning isn’t just about efficiency — it’s about planning for the worst disasters. Depending on your sector, you may need to plan how you could:
Sort out alternative suppliers
Shut down systems quickly and smoothly
Evacuate a building safely
Reroute incoming calls to another call center location
Technology Technology supports these processes. Does your technology stack allow you to work in an efficient way? Have you transitioned from old legacy systems to more modern solutions?
Since continuity planning is all about agility, it favors technology solutions that enable seamless communication between the team we mentioned previously.
While you’re focusing on keeping operations afloat, don’t forget to ensure you look after customer experience. After all, your customers are the core of the business. This can include using design thinking to make sure customers get what they’re expecting from you, and looking after user experience along the way.
A good continuity plan should also prepare for disasters like cybersecurity, which can have a considerable negative impact on customers that rely on accessing services through the web. According to DataCore, 54% of organizations have experienced technology downtime lasting at least eight hours in the past five years.
Why business continuity planning matters
After the havoc caused by COVID-19, organizations from schools to startups to global conglomerates learned firsthand how anything can happen — and the importance of having a plan in place. No matter how flawless your operations are, there are some situations you can’t avoid, like a pandemic. So, make sure you’re one of the 49% of companies across the globe with a contingency plan in place.
This way, if you experience a service disruption in the future, you’ll already know what action to take — allowing you to continue serving your customers and avoiding a complete disruption. This helps to put you ahead of the competition and gain the right kind of reputation.
Besides, business continuity planning doesn’t just help you in the case that something unfortunate happens. The process of preparing is a great way to improve your operations before an emergency happens, making your organization a more efficient place while reducing risks.
It can also help to bring your team together and make your employees feel better equipped to deal with minor, everyday problems.
Time to pull it all together
Hopefully, you can now see how crucial business continuity planning is. Yet it can be daunting to sort out the process yourself, which is why a lot of companies choose to bring in experts to help them.
At Cornerstone Paradigm Consulting, we use all the processes outlined above to help you finetune your processes and become a more versatile operation. To find out more, book a free consultation today.
About the author: Cornerstone Paradigm Consulting, LLC is an industry-agnostic global business operations consulting firm going beyond the symptoms to get to the root cause of your business issues.