It probably goes without saying, but the best time to create a business continuity plan is before you have a crisis. However, if your organization didn’t have one set up and is now one of the many scrambling to piece something together, it’s not too late to restore order and shore things up so you’re prepared for anything else that might come. Here’s a quick look at why business continuity planning should be at the forefront of your mind now.
1. Your business continuity planning will help you identify many potential business disruptors.
Historically, organizations have thought of business continuity planning in terms of natural disasters and service outages. This includes a wide variety of issues, such as hurricanes, floods, and fires, as well as things like blackouts or downed communication lines. Manmade crises, such as vandalism or data breaches started getting more attention in recent years too.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies learned the hard way that there are even more things to guard against. An effective business continuity planning session looks at all your critical business processes, the variety of issues that could impact them, and how to mitigate potential issues, so your organization is better prepared. Even if you weren’t prepared for the coronavirus and general market downturn, you can be prepared for the next event, whatever that may be.
2. Your business will continue to function even if working environments must change.
Sometimes work can’t be carried out safely at its normal location. Previously, people thought of this in terms of incidents like blizzards or hurricanes. Unprepared organizations simply stop work altogether but those with business continuity plans in place have backup locations to shift to. However, it can also involve work from home options.
As was seen with COVID-19, agile organizations with the systems in place to shift the team to remote operations had a much smoother transition than their counterparts did. If your organization wasn’t prepared to shift the team to working at home or operations slowed because people have not been able to go into their traditional workplace, working on your business continuity plan now will make it easier to address any lingering productivity issues you’re having and ensure everyone can move to alternate work environments as needed in the future.
3. Contact centers and other outsourced services will provide your organization with more flexibility.
You have a lot on your plate as an organizational leader. When a crisis occurs, you need to be able to address issues swiftly and nimbly. However, periphery business processes, though maybe critical to overall operations, can absorb your focus when you need to be addressing your customers and employees. When outsourced, these processes continue running without issue, allowing you the flexibility you need to adjust and pivot your overall strategy, ensuring your organization comes out on top despite the crisis.
If you’re presently struggling to clean up a mess or having trouble making a pivot, it’s natural to want to focus on the immediate problems. However, doing so is only putting a Band-Aid on the problem. You aren’t looking at the overall picture and may miss critical details, plus you will be in the same situation when the next crisis comes. It’s essential to build out a full-scale business continuity plan now so you have the flexibility you need to address the current situation and future events.
4. Your customers will have protection, and thus will develop more confidence in your organization.
All business processes have “customers,” though they may be your end customers who purchase your products and services or they could be internal customers who rely on things like your IT help desk or mailroom to carry out their work. While it may not need to be said, reliable services protect all these people from collateral damage and lost productivity when a crisis occurs and the continued service builds confidence in your organization.
If you’ve missed out on this, confidence in your company has already been shaken, but you can start rebuilding confidence by taking the right steps now.
5. Critical personnel will remain safe and return to work quicker.
Sometimes a work pause is unavoidable. In the case of COVID-19, companies had no choice but to keep “non-essential” employees at home, even if those people were critical to business operations. Similar situations may arise in a variety of crises. With the right business continuity plan in place, keeping employees safe is easy and you’ll already have the processes and procedures in place to make their return to work both smooth and efficient.
Consider this: do you already know when and how you’ll start bringing employees back to work? Are certain the health and safety of essential employees who are still working in your facilities are safeguarded? If you have any lingering doubts, then you should be working on your business continuity plan now.
6. Your organization’s reputation will remain intact.
Companies are made or lost in times of crisis because so much is at stake. You need to be able to take care of your customers, look out for your employees, and address any perception issues, all while tackling business strategy and financial challenges as well as ensuring the safety of everyone and security of facilities and data. That’s a tall order and many organizations don’t make the cut, then wind up with a PR nightmare on their hands to cope with as well. Yet, with the right planning, you can actually improve your organization’s reputation, building relationships, and a stronger future.
If you already faced a reputation blunder during COVID-19, you may already find yourself saying, “Never again will I…” Getting started on your business continuity planning now ensures you’ll make good on those promises and that finding the right solutions doesn’t fall by the wayside as you resume operations. Plus, it can help you recover from any reputation issues you may be having now too.
7. Communication will be smoother.
A detailed business continuity plan addresses pivotal concerns and ensures everyone stays informed. Details like who needs to be notified, how they’ll be notified, and what steps need to be taken are outlined. Communication channels are also established in advance, so everyone knows where to look and can stay connected.
Has your organization been working in silos? Do you have some people in various instant messaging platforms, others using their phones, and some sending out dozens of emails? Have people complained that they don’t know where to go for information? Have you noticed decreased productivity, but can’t identify the root cause? Business continuity planning can help you shore up the lines of communication now and ensure they stay open in the future.
8. You’ll avoid excessive downtime.
It takes time to bring people and processes back to full operability after any kind of shutdown, but precious moments are lost when you need to strategize their return. Business continuity planning makes sure you don’t have to worry about this, so you come back faster and can help you avoid downtime altogether in many cases too.
Don’t wait until you’re ready to start bringing people back to work to create the plan to do it. Outline it now with a solid continuity plan.
9. Your recovery from the crisis will be swifter.
Those without business continuity plans in place when a crisis hits are simply left to make the best of a bad situation, which can result in unnecessary expenses and losses. Planning ahead helps ensure you avoid this and makes it easier for your organization to recover when the crisis ends.
As noted earlier, there are many components that impact how your business will recover from a crisis. Your preparation for it is one of the biggest, but if you weren’t prepared for what’s happening now, the decisions you make will still impact the organization’s survival and how it performs in the aftermath.
10. Your company will gain a competitive advantage.
Agile companies that can pivot and bounce back fast outperform their peers. They’re more likely to survive a crisis and thrive when normality is restored. Because business continuity planning offers all the benefits outlined here, those that take advantage of it are well-poised to overtake their competitors.
11. You’ll have greater peace of mind.
You forecast and follow budgets, conserve resources, purchase insurance, perform market research, and invest time in strategy to ensure the future of your organization is secure. Business continuity planning is akin to this. Although you may hope never to leverage your plans, it’s reassuring to know that you’re covered if something does happen.
Get started on your business continuity plan now.
Whether your organization is struggling due to current events or it left you with the realization that your company isn’t as prepared as you thought, getting started with a business continuity plan is the next logical step. With three decades in the industry and experience supporting large corporations, Fortune 500 companies, and government organizations in booms and busts, DATAMARK can help you identify your greatest risks to continuity and establish plans to ensure your organization is one of the few that not only survives this issue but thrives after and is prepared for the next. Contact us to get started.