Business continuity refers to an organization’s ability to keep up its core operations during and after a disaster. Disasters in this case are defined as any unpredictable events that disrupt a company’s normal functioning. External threats like disease outbreaks, environmental hazards, and cyberattacks are all examples of such events.
Business continuity planning (BCP) is a series of risk management procedures and protocols constructed with two objectives in mind: keeping key functions and services running during a disaster and resuming full functionality as soon as possible. For most organizations, business continuity planning begins by identifying which functions are absolutely essential to maintain and allocating an appropriate budget accordingly. Upon identifying these functions, company administrators can begin implementing failover mechanisms and choosing the right business continuity appliance as support.
In today’s increasingly volatile world, crises can crop up at any time, causing downtime that results in lost business prospects and decreased revenue. Companies in all industries should consider business continuity planning as an essential activity for the following reasons:
BCP Helps Employees Deal with the Unexpected
Disaster situations of any kind are so devastating to businesses in large part because there’s no way to anticipate when they’ll happen. Studies estimate that up to 40% of small enterprises never recover from a disaster. Even larger organizations with abundant resources and manpower at their disposal can still suffer major blows in times of crisis. In many cases, these devastating losses occur because organizations find themselves under immense pressure to make heavy business decisions quickly.
While disaster preparedness and recovery plans can’t prevent crises from ever occurring, they at least give you productive ways to respond. A good business continuity plan documents the necessary procedures to implement in case of a disaster, which can help minimize panic and confusion among employees in emergency situations. If your team knows what to do well in advance of the disaster itself, they’ll be better able to protect themselves and make more intelligent choices.
BCP Is an Investment in Your Business
Strong business continuity planning doesn’t just protect you from financial and reputational damage. It’s also an opportunity for your organization to examine itself, identify potential weaknesses and problem areas, and gather important information about the way it operates. The data you collect and analyze in the process of business continuity planning, such as system diagrams and contact list, can also be used outside of emergency situations to improve your company’s operations on the whole.
In the process of performing BCP, your company can also beef up its technological infrastructure, communication, and overall resilience. Furthermore, business continuity might also be a legal or compliance requirement for your organization, depending on your industry and jurisdiction. In this case, stronger BCP will also improve your company’s standing with regulators.
Backups Alone Are Insufficient During Disasters
While it’s standard practice for most companies to back up their data in some way, backups are also no good if you can’t access them. Disaster situations can make accessing backup data difficult if not impossible, such as in the event of a power outage or an emergency that requires company employees to leave their office site temporarily. Finding ways to ensure that businesses can access their data even during outages is therefore a key business continuity planning concern.
Disaster recovery and business continuity solutions that utilize virtual servers and cloud technologies can help companies restore critical functions faster and minimize downtime. These solutions can and often do help cut businesses’ recovery time down from multiple days and weeks to a few minutes.
Insurance Doesn’t Restore Lost Data
Many organizations think they don’t need BCP if they have insurance, but this is a mistaken assumption. By itself, insurance isn’t enough to address all the damage that disasters cause. While it can certainly help with repairs, insurance can’t restore lost data from compromised backups, servers, or data centers. Neither can it restore lost access to any of the data. Insurance coverage also has little power to mitigate lost business prospects, reputation damage, and decreased revenue as a result of extended downtime.
Strong BCP Gives You an Edge over Competitors
In tumultuous times, organizations that can figure out a feasible plan of action and quickly restore normal functioning will have an edge over their competitors. Restoring access to critical business documents and data, getting networks back up, reconnecting employees with each other, and resuming customer support operations will send the message that your company can be trusted in a crisis. This strong reputation will earn your business the favor of customers, potential employees, and both current and future business partners.
Good BCP doesn’t just preserve your business’s bottom line—it also safeguards your employees’ livelihoods and helps customers who depend on your goods and services. A good business continuity plan will help equip your organization with the skills, knowledge, and tools necessarily to survive severe disruptions.