What Does It Mean to Plan for the Worst?
You don’t need to be repeatedly told just how important risk management is. If you did, you probably wouldn’t have made it this far. One problem you see from business owners today is that while they understand just how many problems there are--and which ones they need to find solutions for first--they want to grow their company so fast that they overlook potential problems and end up hurting their business as a result. This month, we thought we would talk a little bit about contingency planning and how, if it is done right, it can have a marked effect on your business’ ability to carry-on after a problematic event.
A Little Background
One of the biggest risks a business owner needs to address is what needs to happen if there is a situation where their business is disrupted. There has to be a series of actions taken that will allow for a thorough assessment of the situation and a return to productivity. These tasks don’t just solve the problems surrounding an issue, they are a strategy to ensure operational resilience.
Business as Usual
Your whole business often has small interruptions, but when there are significant delays, it can start to cost your business a lot of money. A lack of revenue generating action--any bout of lengthy downtime--is very detrimental to the sustainability of your business, regardless of what it is that you do. This is because the costs don’t just disappear the minute the work stops, and typically your biggest expenses are tied to production.
Continuity, In the Information Age
Business continuity planning hasn’t changed all that much, it just has to take into account the numerous moving parts your business has. Of course, the more technology your business uses, the more it needs to be considered, especially if its failure puts a stoppage to your business’ forward momentum. That’s why it is important for your plan not to be some half-baked shell, but a complete, step-by-step and tested plan.
You will want to start by making a list of people that need to be in the loop if there were to be some major continuity problem with your business. This list should have the names, addresses, and contact information of all parties that would be responsible for any section of your business. It is going to be important to actively verify that the contact information is up to date, as well as train those employees on their roles if your business continuity plan is to succeed.
A business continuity recovery action plan is a plan that incrementally works to recover your business practices. If your organization’s continuity plan extends to off-site locations, your action plan should extend to all processes and procedures that will help set-up and move your business’ operations to the new location. Most tasks should be assigned a specific timeline for completion, with the highest priority tasks coming first.
Effective customer relations are a critical process in normal business conditions. When you are dealing with a critical failure, it can keep you in business. You will want to contact your suppliers and vendors. Keeping your supply chain from failing has to be a major point of emphasis, no matter what type of business you run. This goes double if your business is a key vendor for other business’ supply chains. Making sure that your business’ relationships remain solid, and that you help your partners restore “business as usual”, is essential for your business’ return to form.
Technology and Data
You will want to have identified what hardware and software are essential, as well as have a good idea about how long it will take to restore your data and other systems into working condition. This also applies to any equipment that is necessary to restore operations. You’ll want to make sure that you know exactly what tools you need and the length of time that it will take to get things back up and running.
You will also want to have identified your data needs and have a data backup and recovery platform in place. Business continuity is best when your data backup is bulletproof, as being able to access all of your data quickly, and ensuring that all of your data is always backed up will make a big difference when you need it. While migration to new hardware will extend your timelines, your business can function in an acceptable capacity with the right data backup platform in place.
Assessment, Testing, and Training
To complete your business continuity process, you will absolutely want to continue to assess and test all aspects of the platform. If you know that your BC practices are solid, you can save your business from a downtime disaster.
If you would like more specific information about business continuity, or if you would like to talk to one of our consultants about having ISC help your business put together a BC platform that works, call us today at 502.292.5097.