Facing disruptions in business is a certainty. Whether it’s a supply chain issue or a technical failure, every business faces challenges of all scopes and scales of severity. It’s how successfully you anticipate, respond, and protect your operations against them – ensuring business continuity – that counts.
You can’t predict the unpredictable. However, you can stay as robust and agile as possible with business continuity planning that considers three key factors.
What is business continuity?
Business continuity refers to your company’s ability to continue operating despite interruptions. A business continuity plan is how you achieve this; it’s your pre-defined framework for navigating crises, an essential set of procedures for mitigating and recouping your losses.
Covid-19 laid bare the risks of not having a business continuity plan, but disruptions don’t have to reach pandemic levels to derail you. In fact, the BCI Horizon Scan Report 2022 found that following non-occupational disease, it was IT and telecom outages that respondents reported to be their most major disruption in the year prior.
Power failures, cyber attacks, employee error…any eventuality that prevents you from delivering critical business functions should be accounted for in your business continuity plan.
Why is business continuity important?
The main goal of a business continuity plan is to keep your organisation on the move despite operative challenges, internal or external. It should be defined proactively so that you can spring into action quickly and minimise the following impacts:
Disruption is costly. As The Economist found, supply chain disruptions alone cause businesses to face increased working costs, delayed cash flows, and a loss of regular customers.
Legal and regulatory non-compliance
How do you ensure that your business is operating legally despite ongoing crises? Whether it’s by safeguarding your employees or protecting confidential data, remaining compliant can be challenging during even small periods of disruption.
If your workplace becomes unsafe, major technology fails, or you experience a cyber attack, the resultant employee downtime could cost you – financially and in terms of your reputation.
How do you respond to a data breach? How do you continue to deliver the service that your clients expect during a telecoms outage? Disruptions can tarnish your reputation quickly.
How can you manage business continuity?
Establishing a business continuity roadmap isn’t a one-size-fits-all exercise. Your plan will depend on the size and maturity of your business, the services you offer, the industry you work in, the clients you’ve partnered with, the legal and regulatory issues you’re bound to, and a variety of other factors.
However, there are three components that a successful business continuity plan could consider.
According to McKinsey, 75% of risk managers believe that improving risk culture is one of the most important steps towards strengthening resilience. This is alongside better incorporating resilience measures into the wider business strategy.
With this in mind, think about your business’s vulnerabilities and the processes you have in place to overcome them. Have you trained your employees to prevent and respond to a cyber attack? Could your current IT network be compromised by a single point of failure? Could your servers continue connecting you to business-critical data in the event of an emergency?
Reacting to a challenge puts you a step behind. Proactivity is key to minimising the damage caused by disruption and helping you to remain resilient.
Disaster recovery is the stage after business continuity. Once you have a plan in place to continue your business-critical operations throughout periods of disruption, the next stage is to recover any losses and get back to business as usual.
Consider questions like: if our on-premises infrastructure suffered a major failure, what steps would we take to recover our data? If we lost market share, how would we update our stakeholders?
You should also put systems in place to test your disaster recovery plan regularly. This could be by implementing Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS) tools, for instance, to help you identify system weakness and action more effective recovery plans.
Some interruptions are unpredictable. Again, we can look at the pandemic as a great example of this. But while you might not be able to predict the nitty gritty details of a disruption, you can start to consider the bigger picture.
For instance, what networks could you lean on for financial support? Could you bring in new vendors to ease a broken link in your supply chain? If we faced another health emergency, could you connect every employee digitally through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)?
By preparing for as many contingencies as you can, your business continuity plan will be better equipped to help you bounce back quickly.
How to create a business continuity plan
To define a plan that allows you to continue operating during a disruption – your plan A before you enact your disaster recovery plan – answer the following three questions.
1) Which business functions are critical to your organisation?
2) What internal or external risks could stop you from delivering them?
3) What steps would you need to take to correct your course?
Within each of these steps, you should also consider the what, when, and who. A thorough plan should detail exactly what steps need to be taken, when they should be actioned, and who is responsible for doing so. The more granular your business continuity plan, the more comprehensive your disaster recovery strategy will be.
You can also follow international standards to guide your business continuity planning. The ISO 22301 sets out best practices for establishing and maintaining a plan that can stay consistent across the business.
Making complex business continuity simple with Ampito
Business continuity and disaster recovery planning are key to boosting your business’s resilience, which is all part of the Ampito mission. As your collaborative IT partner, we’ll dig deeper into your challenges and design solutions that protect your people and performance.
Maybe it’s time for you to digitally transform with an SD-WAN that connects users to essential applications along the most reliable routes. Perhaps you want to introduce a more effective data recovery process by transitioning to cloud-based architecture.
We can help you build more resilient and effective practices that drive better outcomes for the whole enterprise, from establishing multiple lines of defence with bespoke cyber security solutions, to facilitating better team connections with unified communications.
Every partnership starts with a conversation. Get in touch to find out how we could be the safe pair of hands you need for always-on business continuity – Contact Us