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THE GROWING IMPORTANCE OF PLANNING FOR BUSINESS CONTINUITY

Think for a moment of what your usual day is like.

You wake up in the morning; some of you — a few minutes before their alarm clock goes off, others — sleep through. The day is sunny, or not; it doesn’t matter because you never notice this — it’s just another usual day. You drive to work, pondering over the to-do list, while also getting distracted by occasional phone calls and email notifications. As soon as you reach the office, you jump into a daily planning meeting, having fortunately picked up a cup of freshly brewed rocket fuel.

Work. Lunch. Another couple of meetings. And you finally get back home. You have a hasty dinner, do some random stuff, and go to bed. The day is over; you’ll repeat the schedule tomorrow.

And what if all of this — we mean it — was gone? No 8-9ish workday; no seemingly infinite tasks; no regular meetings with the team and clients; no schedule at all. Your life is anything but usual, all of a sudden.

No, it’s not a coaching session or mindset training. It’s an emergency. You should see it coming and gear up for it. That way you’ll ensure that your business is up and running. Planning for business continuity is meant to facilitate this.

WHAT IS BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLAN?

We never know when something unexpected may happen and turn our life upside down. By ‘something unexpected’ we mean the circumstances that are beyond our control — i.e. pandemic, economic crisis, political upheaval, whatever. Life would be way simpler if we could receive advance notice of this. But we can still try to cover all bases to not get caught off guard. Better safe than sorry, isn’t it?

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“A business continuity plan [Definition] is a system of prevention and recovery from potential threats to a company such as natural disasters or cyber-attacks.”

According to Investopedia

Surprisingly, there’s no mention of other more devastating ‘potential threats’ like war. Although it sounds unimaginable in the 21st century, such a possibility does exist.

UKRAINE’S CASE

February 24, 2022. 5 AM.

The citizens of many Ukrainian cities woke up to the sounds of shelling and air raids. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began.

There had been much speculation about possible scenarios of how the long-standing conflict would unfold, but no one had expected it would be so brutal and unrelenting. Thousands of victims, separated families, destroyed houses, lost jobs — and counting.

People are forced to leave their homes, established lifestyles, and flee away in panic. They do not know whether they will ever come back — only faint hope is flickering in them. All they need now is an opportunity to survive and regain stability, at least temporary.

Notably, many companies are ready to help local employees and their close ones to get evacuated to safety. They also provide their teams with financial aid to cover the increasing expenses and help maintain a comfortable life. And even by doing so, companies can afford not to disrupt their usual operations. That’s a BCP (business continuity plan) in action.

WHAT IS THE PRIMARY GOAL OF BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING?

BCP ensures that all events capable of disrupting your business operations are foreseen and managed. It’s a risk mitigation strategy of sorts.

Any disruption results in decreased profit and increased costs. If there’s no step-by-step action plan on how to get out of the crisis, the recovery stage may take longer or even never come to pass. The outcome is you’ll be out of business at some point. According to The Federal Emergency Management Agency, 25% of businesses never reopen after a disaster.

So basically, a business continuity plan contains procedures and instructions that dictate how your company is expected to respond in the face of disasters or major crises. It also helps keep your core business activities, assets, and human resources intact under challenging conditions.

BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLAN VS DISASTER RECOVERY PLAN

Disaster recovery and business continuity plans are interdependent and work best when in sync. Your company should have them both in place to minimize the financial and operational impact.

When planning for business continuity, you focus on company-wide processes. The plan also addresses the needs of all stakeholders — be it employees, partners, or vendors. It outlines different scenarios under which all critical elements will be functioning. BCP provides answers to the following questions:

  • How will you maintain uninterrupted services for customers during and immediately after the disruptive event?
  • Are there any alternative sources of income for your company?
  • Will your employees work remotely on a temporary or permanent basis?
  • Will you move your offices and staff to more favorable locations?
  • etc.

 

With disaster recovery planning, on the other hand, you are more concerned with the immediate action on mitigation of interruptions caused by the disruptive event. This might include data retrieval, IT infrastructure recovery, communication restoring, etc. The aim of DRP is to bring operations back to normal as quickly as possible. A disaster recovery plan is often one small part of a business continuity plan.

RISKS OF NOT HAVING A BCP

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STEPS TOWARDS EFFECTIVE PLANNING FOR BUSINESS CONTINUITY

Although you can predict which potential threats your business may face, the effects of those threats are never the same. So the plan itself will depend on many factors — e.g. business size & type, industry, way of working, core activities, etc.   Nevertheless, there are business continuity planning steps you should follow to make the plan as effective as possible.

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BUSINESS ANALYSIS

Since the purpose of a business continuity plan is to ensure seamless functioning of the entire company under conditions of uncertainty, you should first analyze all current processes, technologies, inventory, roles, and their interdependencies before working out any plan.

That way you can locate possible gaps, identify business sections that will likely be affected, and specify what specialists are fundamental to the normal operations of your business. The plan should account for all these findings.

DEDICATED TEAM

You need to have someone in charge of planning for business continuity. The assigned team will act as a source of knowledge about all activities related to the plan and coordinate its implementation. If necessary, they can even conduct training for employees so that everyone is well-aware of what is expected of them in the case of disruption.

Also, ensure that every employee has easy access to the contact list of BCP team members and clearly understands their responsibilities.

RISK ASSESSMENT

Identify types of threats that pose risk to your business and rank them as ‘high risk’, ‘moderate risk’, and ‘low risk’. Once ranked, define the impact they may have on your business — i.e. the amount of the loss, time for recovery, productivity damage, impact on other functions, etc.

After you’ve collected information about potential impacts, consider assessing available resources and ways you can allocate them with maximum benefit to business continuity.

RECOVERY STRATEGIES

Once you’ve identified the most critical processes to maintaining your business, it’s only natural that you want to invest solid recovery efforts in these areas. A well-thought-out recovery strategy is one of the most essential elements of a business continuity plan. It dictates how your business will bounce back after the crisis.

It’s time to create an action plan for each critical function. It may include:

  • Description of the function
  • Impact
  • Recovery plan
  • Resources needed
  • Responsible individuals

TESTING & UPDATING

No plan is considered effective until it’s tried and tested. If you spot any weaknesses in your plan, trace them to the source. Improve your plan based on the test results. It is recommended to create a business continuity plan checklist and run through it regularly — at least, twice a year.

Risks to your business develop rapidly; moreover, your business itself changes continuously — its mode of operation, priority levels, staff responsibilities. So reviewing your plan at times is a must if you want to keep it up-to-date with your ever-changing business needs.

A BCP IN ACTION

Here, at CXDojo, we are all too familiar with the importance of a business continuity plan. One of our offices is located in Kharkiv, Ukraine, so we were forced to bring our plan into action once the military conflict unfolded there.

Since this conflict poses danger to human lives, our major priority was the safety of Ukrainian employees and their families. We ensured that everyone on our team was relocated to a peaceful place, away from the horrors of war.

Another concern was to maintain a comfortable way of living and earning. That’s why we provided our employees with all the necessary handheld equipment and switched to a fully remote mode of operation. We had no difficulty with it since we’ve long been advocates for a cloud-based working environment.

Given the turbulent times, heads of critical departments have created a schedule that fosters flexibility. They make updates to the schedule regularly and redistribute tasks among team members if circumstances so require. All work processes undergo continuous optimization to fit into the new reality.

 

The result? CXDojo is fully operational and committed to delivering quality services. Have a project in mind? Let’s discuss the details.

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