Paying lip service to business continuity planning when times are calm and uneventful is one thing – who’s going to call you on that? It’s a completely different thing when there is a global pandemic that’s providing a true test across the board for organizations’ business continuity plans around the globe.
The impact may feel slightly lessened now that we have been in middle of the COVID-19 pandemic for the last few months, but to drive home the obvious, this was a truly unexpected event that shook many businesses to the core. “But, how could we have planned for a global pandemic?” That is a valid question. Ask anyone a year ago about what the greatest challenges to their business would be in 2020, and very few (if any) would mention anything even slightly resembling the word “coronavirus”.
The more apt question to consider is “how can we plan for future disruptions to our business?” To answer it, let’s start with a question of our own – when was the last time your senior leadership conducted a run through of various scenarios to strengthen the readiness of your corporate assets? Maybe it was pre-COVID-19. If so, that likely had a direct effect on how your organization has adapted to this crisis.
Making Your Business Continuity Plan Work for Your Business
At any time, unforeseen circumstances beyond a company’s control can influence the operational status of a business. To wait until these circumstances are knocking at your door is to throw caution to the wind, at potentially great costs to your organization and employees. The most successful businesses have a series of plans and strategies ready for any challenges that may come their way.
To start, key stakeholders should regularly monitor incidents that may cause a business disruption and/or have a serious impact to operations. It does no good to take a “set it and forget it” approach. The crucial word to look at for business that are ready pre- and post-disruption is “adaptability”. If you put a plan in place that does not adapt to your environment, or to changes in your organization, you will not be adequately prepared to weather the huge challenges that can occur at the drop of a hat.
A business continuity program should ensure Business Continuity Plans are applicable to relevant, realistic risks, and threats to their critical operations. This means adapting more of a playbook mentality, rather than a rigid series of step-by-step protocols. Several companies we have worked with already have business continuity plans in place, but they are oftentimes untested or ill-suited for evolving conditions and potential threats.
Business Continuity management should include strategies and playbooks around:
- Comprehension of basic Business Continuity principles and methods
- Ensuring consistency in business impact analysis to identify critical business functions
- Understanding of the correlation between operations, business continuity, IT disaster recovery, and emergency planning
- Ensuring that the Business Continuity Plan reflects the current hazard risk analysis, mitigation processes, business impact analysis, response management, and recovery strategies
- Encouraging coordination between all company staff while implementing a Business Continuity Plan
- Identifying and initiating appropriate, cost-effective strategies and procedures to recover critical business functions and information assets
- Formally assigning Business Continuity responsibilities to appropriate leadership and ensuring each receives proper training to implement the Business Continuity Plan
- Ensuring that necessary contractual agreements exist for recovery of critical business functions and information resources
- Reviewing, updating, and communicating Business Continuity content changes
- Continually improving the Business Continuity Plan as required
- Testing Business Continuity plans at least annually.
- Conducting Tabletop exercises with senior leadership, so that your business knows what to do in the event of a national, global, or disrupting event.
A list of that caliber can seem daunting, but so are the emergencies they are in place to mitigate. If the strategies above are taken correctly, you can move forward confidently with your organization knowing that you have a plan in place for the next “COVID-19” caliber surprise.
Even a cursory look at the impact this crisis has had on the global business landscape reveals the shocking truth – some organizations have adapted well, and others have failed spectacularly. There are so many examples to show the power of a solid Business Continuity Plan, or lack thereof. It truly is a global case study with a single event as the control. The value of Business Continuity Planning, especially during the digital era, has never been more apparent.
Many organizations rely on us to help them navigate these troubled waters into secure digital transformation. If you are looking for a seasoned guide, let our experts at Fishtech Group help you begin the next steps toward a robust Business Continuity Plan with a number of exercises and actionable steps to help lead your organization to a more secure future. As your team continues to discuss this critical issue, fill out the form below and let us know how we can help.