Business leaders are always looking to push boundaries to grow profits and this often involves taking calculated risks. Business risks should be taken in a resilient environment, where the risk of unplanned events causing serious disruption has been mitigated.
Business continuity planning is essential for creating a resilient environment within which a business can thrive. To develop a business continuity plan, a business must carry out a business impact analysis of its critical activities, along with identifying and reviewing all its dependencies.
An effective business continuity plan provides peace of mind that the impact of an unplanned event will cause minimal or no disruption to the operations of a business and its customers.
Business resilience covers the following key areas:1. Transparency of business functions and processes
- Clear documentation of functions and processes, including their dependencies.
- It is essential that business processes are accurately mapped, an organogram drawn and the responsibilities of personnel identified on business process maps.
- Identification of all critical activities, supply chains and people across operations.
- All dependencies must be identified from process maps and organograms including clients, services, supply chains, contracts and people.
- Impact analysis to highlight criticalities and risk of potential disruptions.
- Business impact analysis (BIA) is an essential component of a business continuity plan. BIA identifies vulnerabilities and develops strategies for minimising risk.
2. Risk mitigation and contingency planning
- With critical risks identified, risk mitigation is implemented where possible, significantly improving business resilience.
- This is a real opportunity to make process improvements that enhance business performance, reduce risk, and save money.
- Contingency plans can be identified and developed for any remaining risks.
- Implementing contingency plans ensures business resilience for risks that cannot be fully mitigated.
- Contingency plans also create opportunities to build new partnerships, ensuring that services and supply chains have alternative solutions where possible.
Fires, floods, and storms – these are the things we often associate with contingency planning. But what if your main supplier suddenly goes bankrupt? Or, your entire sales force gets sick with food poisoning at your annual sales conference? Or, your payroll clerk simply calls in sick on payroll day? These incidents can all cause confusion and disorder if you haven’t prepared for them properly.
Contingency planning is not just about major disasters. On a smaller scale, it’s about preparing for events such as the loss of data, people, customers or suppliers and other disruptive unknowns. That’s why it’s important to make contingency planning a normal part of your everyday business operations.
3. Contingency and disaster recovery plans
- Full testing of plans must be carried out to ensure they are effective.
- By fully testing your business continuity plan you can ensure that your business is resilient.
- Creating a test team is an excellent opportunity for cross-functional teams to work together to deliver normal business operations.
- If necessary, plans should be amended to improve business continuity and resilience.
- It is important to recognise that amending business continuity plans is not a sign of failure. It is yet another opportunity to build business resilience.
How can you be sure your business continuity plans deal effectively with a wide range of potential disruptions or disasters? How can you be certain all the elements of your complex enterprise will recover using these plans or that they will stand up to an audit?
A comprehensive, multi-dimensional and on going business continuity and disaster recovery testing program is the only way to achieve the level of confidence you need.