In days gone by, businesses used to deal with the possibility of risk by buying good insurance. Although still important these days, it is not enough to ensure survival. Businesses need to identify risk, then take action to mitigate those challenges and improve their chances of recovery. In short, organisations need to take steps to build business resilience to ensure work can continue when—not if—a crisis hits.
The importance of business resilience
Essentially, this concept indicates an enterprise’s chance of survival after a disaster. The better the resilience, the better the chance of recovering. The emphasis of business resilience is on safeguarding people, assets and brand integrity and to ensure continuity as much as possible.
Business resilience can be developed and expanded upon within a business, much like it’s possible to identify and minimise the risk of encountering those disasters in the first place.
Creating a business continuity plan
With that strategy in mind, the first step is to have a plan of attack. A business continuity plan (BCP) acts as a strategy that identifies potential risks, allowing the organisation to safeguard their operations and mitigate those risks. Strategising prior to a disaster hitting ensures you have the time to explore how it will affect the organisation’s critical operations both at the time of the crisis and moving forward.
The more comprehensive the plan, the better the safeguards that can be implemented. The first step towards creating a thorough plan is to include a large scope of risks and accurate expectations can be put in place.
The continuity strategy is key to developing business resilience. When done right, it contains procedures and instructions which must be followed in order to give your business the best chance of survival.
In a nutshell, it involves a series of steps:
- Identify critical business functions and time-sensitive processes, as well as the resources within the organisation that support them.
- Document and determine how to best recover critical business functions and processes. This can be everything from a list of supplies and equipment, to the location of data backups. It should also include where the business continuity plan is available and contact information for emergency responders.
- Have a select team compile a continuity plan to manage a business disruption.
- Conduct training for the business continuity team. Most importantly, each part of the plan should be tested, with the aim to ‘break’ it to evaluate recovery strategies.
This testing should be carried out several times a year and is as important as creating the plan itself. Trying to ‘break’ the plan means that when real disaster strikes, your plan will be robust and effective, key personnel will be familiar with emergency procedures and have confidence in its capacity to overcome the threat.
Understanding the disaster recovery plan
Developing a disaster recovery plan (DRP) is an important part of a good business continuity plan and should be created in conjunction with it. Its primary function is to identify and assess different risks. The DRP can also be broken down into a series of steps:
- Identify possible threats and explore how different disasters could affect business;
- Ensure all data is protected from threats;
- Outline and document the disaster recovery plan;
- Communicate the plan to key personnel, ensuring they understand it and know how to access it;
- Regularly test the DRP, as part of the overall business continuity testing.
Risks come in all shapes and sizes — some are catastrophically big and can cause downtime and total system outages. Others may be relatively minor. But whatever the challenge, predicting and preparing means businesses can allow for smooth operations from the outset.
Risks include cyber security issues like hacking, data breaches, ransomware or system infections from other viruses. They also come in the form of natural disasters like earthquakes, flood or fires. A good DRP should also cover the loss of key personnel or theft, supply-chain disruption or economic challenges ― anything which could impact business continuity, equipment, safety or brand integrity.
By having a robust and well-tested BCP, your business can continue to build its resilience. So by all means, take out insurance to cover in the event of an emergency, but include this as a small part of your overall strategy.
A good first step is to email EMPR Solutions for a free assessment of your business and to start building resilience to better your organisation’s chances of survival when disaster strikes.
– Natasha Poynton