$5,600 a minute. That’s the average cost of downtime for a business, according to a recent Gartner report. And while some downtime is inevitable, there are steps you can take to minimize the impact on your Utah business. One of the most important is creating a strong business continuity plan.
What Is Business Continuity?
Business continuity is the process of maintaining operations during and after a major disruption. The goal is to minimize downtime and maintain customer confidence by ensuring that your business can still deliver its products or services despite the disruption.
Business continuity can sometimes be confused with Disaster Recovery, but a disaster recovery plan is focused on getting IT infrastructure up and running, whereas business continuity is focused on maintaining all business operations—marketing, HR, sales, etc.
Threats to Business Continuity
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and you never know when disaster might strike your business.
A major natural disaster can be a huge threat to business continuity. If your company is located in an area that’s prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, or flooding, you need to have a contingency plan in place.
A data breach can expose your company’s confidential information, including customer data, employee records, and trade secrets. This can have a devastating impact on your business, not to mention the potential for fines and lawsuits.
Hackers can steal your company’s confidential data or infect your systems with malware, causing widespread disruption.
Power outages are another common threat to business continuity. A power outage can knock out your computer systems, phone system, and even your internet connection. This can leave your business unable to operate for hours or even days.
Why Do I Need a Business Continuity Plan?
There are many reasons to create a business continuity plan. The most important is to protect your revenue stream and maintain customer confidence in your brand. But business continuity can also help you:
Comply with industry regulations: Many industries have strict regulations about how to handle disruptions. A well-designed business continuity plan can help you meet these requirements.
Protect your employees: A business continuity plan can help you ensure the safety of your employees and provide them with the resources they need to continue working during a disruption.
Minimize downtime: By identifying critical functions and putting a plan in place to maintain them, you can minimize the impact of a disruption on your business.
Reduce stress: Having a plan in place will help reduce stress for you and your employees during a crisis. And it will give you peace of mind knowing that you’re prepared for whatever comes your way.
How to Create a Business Continuity Plan
Assess your risks
The first step is to create a business continuity plan team. This team should include representatives from all areas of your business, including marketing, HR, sales, IT, and operations. The team should meet regularly to update the business continuity plan and ensure that everyone is aware of their role during a disruption.
The team should also identify critical functions and assess the risks each department might face. These critical functions could include things like customer service, order fulfillment, and website hosting.
Develop contingency plans
Once you’ve identified the risks, you need to develop plans for how to deal with them. This could involve anything from having a backup generator to using cloud-based services to ensure you can still access your data.
List out each department and what their specific roles in business continuity are. Should the HR team communicate with the employees or will that come from management? Should the marketing team continue to post on social media or will that be put on hold?
To do this, you can think through:
- The level of risk for each department (e.g., the finance department probably has the most sensitive data)
- A disruptions’ impact on your customers and employees
- Communication with stakeholders
- What financial resources you have available in the event of a disaster
- Any external partners who can help (e.g., additional office spaces)
Your business continuity team should create realistic timelines and markers for each department to make sure you’re ensuring the safety of your employees and serving your customers.
Test your plans
Once you’ve developed your contingency plans, it’s important to test them to make sure they actually work. This could involve conducting a mock disaster or doing a dry run of your backup procedures.
Don’t look at these tests as a pass or fail situation. You’re trying to find vulnerabilities, not use the test as a way to confirm what you’ve already planned.
Review and update regularly
It’s important to review and update your business continuity plans on a regular basis. This could be annually, bi-annually, or even quarterly. The frequency will depend on the size and complexity of your organization as well as the industry you’re in.
As you review your plans, take into account any changes in your business, such as new employees or new locations. You should also update your plans if there are changes in the risks you face, such as new technology or new regulations.
Finally, make sure your employees are aware of the plans and know their roles. You can do this by holding training sessions or sending out regular reminders.
Create an Airtight Business Continuity Plan with Simple Systems
By following these steps, you can create a strong business continuity plan that will help you weather any storm.
But having a plan is only half the battle. You also need to have the right systems in place to make sure your plan is executed flawlessly. That’s where Simple Systems comes in. We specialize in helping businesses create detailed continuity plans. We’ll work with you to assess your risks, develop contingency plans, and test your plans to make sure they work.
Don’t wait until a disaster strikes to start thinking about continuity. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you create a plan that will keep your business running no matter what.