When you’re running a startup, you have dozens of different tasks to think about each day, from sales and marketing through to finance, accounting, customer service, human resources and much more. However, while it’s easy to get busy with these areas, don’t forget to think about the future too.
For example, it’s important for you to put plans in place to deal with potential disruptions to your business operations – disruptions like cyberattacks, IT disasters, floods, fires, public relations crises, loss of key staff members and more. This is where business continuity management comes in. Read on for some tips to take charge of preparation and reduce risks to your business today.
What Does Business Continuity Management Actually Mean?
Business continuity is basically the ability of a venture to continue to deliver its products or services at acceptable, pre-defined levels after a disruptive incident occurs. While you certainly can’t schedule disasters, it is possible to manage your business continuity, so you mitigate the effects of setbacks as much as possible.
Business continuity management involves the development of specific plans, strategies and actions that help to provide protection to an organization’s delivery of wares and/or alternative modes of operations for processes or activities which, if they’re interrupted, will lead to a damaging and even potentially fatal loss to the venture. A good continuity plan can protect each aspect of your business.
What Businesses Need to Think About Business Continuity Management?
Every business needs to have a focus on continuity management, no matter the size of the firm or the industry it is in. However, the complexities of these plans can vary somewhat. This is dependent on the type of business, its location and size and various other factors.
Regardless though, this isn’t something you should put off until “tomorrow” – it could be today that a disaster happens, and you have to deal with huge setbacks that cause you to lose not only revenue, but also things like competitiveness, staff members, customer trust and your brand’s positive reputation.
Identify Your Crucial Business Functions and Processes
One of the first main steps involved in business continuity management is identifying what your organization’s crucial business functions and processes are. You need to examine the different factors required to keep your business operations going.
Think of these as the list of Ps: performance, processes, people, providers, preparation, premises and your brand’s profile. Once you identify all the crucial elements, you can go about methodically making sure that the threats to each of these are minimized and that you have plans in place for what to do if they’re compromised.
Understand Business Vulnerabilities
This leads into the next point: you need to understand your organization’s main vulnerabilities. What are the weak spots which hackers might take advantage of? What data would be most at risk if your servers or website went down? Are your suppliers going to effectively adhere to the continuity plans you put in place? It is important to conduct thorough risk assessments for each part of your business and work out what needs to be changed, sooner rather than later.
Document Everything and Communicate Plans to Your Team
It’s necessary to agree on the continuity plan you devise. Document every detail of the agreement, so you have it in writing and other people can access it. Make sure you share documents with all of your team members to be sure they understand what to do in case of emergencies. Plus, pass on the information to other stakeholders who need it, such as suppliers or contractors.
Run Mock Scenarios and Provide Training to Staff Members
You might think that every aspect of your continuity plan is wonderful, but until the day comes when it is tested, you really won’t know. However, you can check the likely effectiveness of what you’ve put together by running mock scenarios. Test out each part of your plan, and include suppliers and other key contacts wherever possible.
You can also support the plan by providing training to your staff members, so actions will be properly executed if the plan needs to be enacted. Employees may need, for instance, to handle tasks that go beyond their day-to-day responsibilities, which could mean knowledge gaps if you don’t teach them what they need to know.