With the news about the Coronavirus changing all the time, and the uncertainty for many businesses, it is safe to say that, in 2020, a business continuity plan is needed more than ever!
Previously, a business continuity plan seemed like more of a luxury than a necessity, with unexpected business closures feeling like something that would never happen. Two years ago, we ran briefings to urge business leaders to think about their business continuity plans and how to create them, but unfortunately there was little interest. That would have been the best time to plan, implement and test the strategy in time for the current crisis. Companies that heeded the advice would now be in a much better position to keep the business running in such uncertain times, because suddenly CEOs and directors are faced with the reality that they will have to shut their doors, relying on staff to work from home to keep the business running as normally as possible.
Disasters are not always disastrous
We have always argued that a disaster in terms of business continuity does not have to be something as major as the Coronavirus in order to have a negative impact on your business. It could be something as simple as a burst pipe causing a flood, or a gas leak, or road workers accidentally cutting through a cable that could result in the need to close your office for a few hours or days. If this was the case and your staff were unable to work in your premises, is your business continuity plan robust enough for them to all work remotely?
Too often, business continuity plans are developed by separate departments in isolation or just left to the IT department. IT departments will typically make sure all your data is backed up on a regular basis, but do not look at how long your business can afford to be down for, and how much data it can afford to lose. It could take months to recover your data – in which case, how will you maintain business continuity?
If your company does have a business continuity plan, how often do you test it? If the answer is not recently or never, then it is time to do so. Even if everyone is able to work remotely through cloud technology or a hosted desktop solution, you need a system that is capable of functioning in that eventuality – if your system becomes overwhelmed by the numbers of people trying to log in, it will stop working and your business will grind to a halt until the problem is fixed.
A business continuity plan also involves allocating responsibilities to certain people, making sure information is communicated to everyone in a timely manner, and that everyone understands any steps that need to be taken to get the business back up and running as quickly as possible. So in the same way that your fire drill needs to be tested so everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire, you also need to test your business continuity plans.