Businesses often underestimate their need for a continuity plan that can help them survive all kinds of calamities. No one really notices it missing until after disaster strikes, and it's already too late to do anything by then.
The slightest interruption or setback in standard business processes can be expensive as operations stall and revenues take a dip. It could be caused by a local power outage, a disruptive weather event, or anything in between.
Circumstances like these aren't unheard of. The latest disaster recovery stats report that 54% of enterprises reportedly experienced extended downtime in the last five years.
The fact of the matter is that your business should have a backup plan that kicks in the second things start going wrong. This ensures that your production continues as planned, customers are happy, and life gets back to normal as quickly as possible.
It's easier to survive the aftermath of an unanticipated event when you have a business continuity plan to fall back on.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
This framework details all the policies, processes, and procedures that will ensure that your business operations are restored quickly and continue as usual during and after a major disaster.
Essentially, it helps you build resilience and gives your organization the ability to address a situation with an adequate response, protecting stakeholder's interests and business reputation.Without this plan, it can be challenging to continue making, selling, and shipping products when your customers appreciate them the most.
Why Does Business Continuity Matter?
Now more than ever, we know how global pandemics can debilitate businesses and bring entire economies to a halt. Companies that had a continuity plan emerged somewhat shaken but still in working order on the other side.
There are countless instances where organizations were able to weather cybersecurity challenges, utility outages, and natural disasters because they had a plan for what to do when disaster strikes.
Having a well-developed, rehearsed, and structured business continuity plan helps your business to recover from an incident as effectively and quickly as possible.
This way, you can ensure that your workforce knows their roles in an unexpected incident and handle it by following an organized and agreed-upon procedure.
A business continuity plan's primary goal is to keep the critical business processes and operations running, while minimizing disruption.
How to Develop a Business Continuity Plan
The right plan should feature clear-cut guidelines for what your organization must do to continue operations in case of an unforeseen event. It should leave no doubt about how to organize staff and move forward.
However, it must also clearly distinguish between the different types of responses depending on the severity of the emergency at hand. Not everything has to be mission-critical, detailing recovery objectives and timelines for everyone to refer to.Here are the necessary components of an effective business continuity plan and how to establish one for your organization:
How to Achieve Business Continuity During a Crisis
Outline the Goals and Objectives of Your Plan
Since every business is unique, first identify the objectives and goals that are most critical to the way your company operates. This goal-driven trajectory helps you reflect on the overall planning needs, potential recovery strategies, and risk assessment.
Establish a Team for Emergency Preparedness and Responsiveness
Select competent cross-functional leaders or managers who can be a valuable addition to the team. Ensure you appoint someone as the lead to keep things going smoothly and make informed decisions when necessary.
Perform Business Impact Analysis and Risk Assessment
This is where you need to identify the significant risks to your business.
Discuss with your team and analyze the consequences of modifying, eliminating, or reducing essential functions or services in emergency conditions. Be sure to study all identified issues and their impact on the business to comprehend the possibilities better.
Identify Predominant Ecommerce Related Business Functions
Determine how your company will effectively maintain its essential functions and services in case of an emergency. Following are some of the necessary functions and services that you will need to plan for:
- Supply Chain and Inventory Management Continuity - Supply chain problems are commonplace in disasters like pandemics or weather events. During a calamity, will you be able to have adequate inventory? Do you acquire an inventory management system or tool to help you with inventory management? Do you have sound planning for times with low/no inventory?
- Shipping Deadlines and Order Fulfilment - If a crisis arises, will you be able to fulfill order commitments and meet delivery deadlines? It may be excellent and helpful to expand shipping provider's services. And if you use third-party logistics services, ask them about steps they take to ensure business continuity. Their answers will help you determine whether you can depend on them to complete and ship orders in disaster conditions.
- E-Commerce Platform Functionality - Can your ecommerce platform display out-of-stock items during unforeseen circumstances? Can you manage an influx of visitors where supply increases significantly? Also, do you trust the cybersecurity and backup of your data?
- Maintaining Customer Service - Customers need empathy and transparency when times are tough. You will need a communications plan for your digital marketing and your customer support team. Also, plan for onboarding more customer service personnel to address customer questions when they need quick answers.
Prepare a Plan for Necessary Services and Functions
Here are some of the predominant facets of your e-commerce:
- Suppliers/ subcontractors
- Team members
Create unique plans to address the needs of all these factors during an emergency situation.
How do you deal with customer-related situations? Your customers are in that situation, too, and you'll have to be empathetic and informative in every interaction.
Do you have any plans or arrangements to change your current supplier to ensure that you don't have inventory limitations? Also, do you know your options or alternatives in case your shipping partner faces a disruption?
Focus on Documentation and Reviewing
You need to ensure that you have the following aspects in writing:
- Business risk level
- Impact on customers and employees
- Financial resources in case of a calamity
- Community partners or external organizations who can help build a mutually beneficial relationship during a disaster
Present your continuity strategy to your stakeholders, perform trial runs, and be proactive. This allows you to identify any weaknesses or missing features. Once you make the necessary updates, start to train your staff, test, and revise accordingly.
Business Continuity is Paramount
Planning for a catastrophic or disrupting event is paramount for businesses. A documented plan for business continuity communicates how your business will mitigate risk and is a high-return investment any organization can make.
Plus, data shows 93% of the firms without a proper disaster recovery plan which experience a substantial data disaster subsequently fail to sustain their business within one year. It is highly crucial to develop a plan that will help you with business continuity and thriving for the long term.
Source: By the Experts at Mitel