Business Continuity Planning
What is a business continuity plan?
All businesses are at risk of facing challenges that could impact their normal business operations. To mitigate such risks, a company needs a set of measures to adopt in the unforeseen future. These measures are what we refer to as a Business Continuity Plan.
What does the business continuity plan cover?
A business continuity plan involves being prepared for any unanticipated and out of the ordinary disruptions to your business. These disruptions have the ability to change the usual functionality of your business. There is a diversity of internal and external factors that can affect your day to day operations, including our current global pandemic which has resulted in a lengthy lockdown period (which Auckland businesses have had to deal with), natural disasters, power outages and internet security. Thus, a business continuity plan covers any form of adverse threats which affects the usual activities carried out within a business.
Why is a business continuity plan (BCP) important?
Since the onset of the covid-19 pandemic, our economy in New Zealand has experienced sudden changes, and despite The Treasury’s support, many SMEs have felt the effect. With a 13.8% increase in the number of business closures in Auckland in September 2021 compared to last year’s monthly average, (according to Centrix, a credit bureau), having a BCP in place improves the likelihood of your business surviving in order to continue operating.
What are the benefits of having a business continuity plan?
There are a number of benefits when it comes to implementing a business continuity plan as it has the potential to:
- Lessen the financial impact faced by businesses caused by an event or disaster.
- Ensure that sufficient support is given to a company’s employees while receiving adequate communication.
- Ensure that the needs and demands of stakeholders are well understood and met.
- Help businesses adhere to its legal and regulatory duties.
- Help identify and protect critical business functions and services.
- Assist businesses in identifying the services they are dependent on and then pinpoint alternative solutions.
- Gain a competitive edge over other businesses in the same industry by responding swiftly to a disruption.
What attributes does an effective business continuity management plan often have?
- A well-defined scope which maps out which priority activities need to be restored in order to support the products and/or services of a business.
- Specific departmental or planning assumptions regarding the availability of resources once a disruptive incident has occurred.
- As a part of this sort of contingency planning, it clearly defines the roles, responsibilities and contact details of the individuals / continuity team responsible for the recovery activities of the business.
- It clearly shows any alternative sites or work locations during this period.
- It contains all the channels to be used for communication between everyone.
- Suggested courses of actions and tasks to be followed which will enable all individuals to continue operating in ‘recovery mode’.
- Return to modus operandi
What are the steps in formulating a Business Continuity Plan?
There are a few steps which can be followed in order to come up with a comprehensive business continuity plan. These steps should include:
- Business Impact Analysis
A Business Impact Analysis (also often referred to as a BIA) is the foundation for formulating an effective continuity plan. It is essential in identifying the extent to which business functions and processes will be affected by any form of disruption. The information gathered from this analysis is very useful in coming up with which risk management measures needs to be put in place. A BIA has to be conducted to accurately pinpoint the vulnerabilities of a business, identify its critical functions, set out a recovery time frame, plan key resources and effectively manage organisational dependencies.
At this stage, the business identifies, documents and begins to implement the important business operations which need to be restored.
A business continuity team has to be organised. They are placed with the responsibility of carrying out its activities which have been outlined in their business continuity plan.
Each continuity team member should undergo training in order to deliver the recovery strategies and business processes that have been formulated. Cross-training for example is an important factor which is often overlooked. Normally an employee is hired to fill a single position role, but should in fact be trained to be able to cover multiple functions in a business.
We continue to face unprecedented challenges in New Zealand, and while your business might never experience any significant disruptions, having a business continuity plan in place will allow you to sleep easier at night.