Thought Leadership

Business Continuity Planning – A Positive Spin

If you suffer from insomnia, business continuity planning can help!

When you think about your business, what is it that keeps you up at night?

Imagine if you weren’t able to go to the office for an extended period of time?  What would happen if you lost that one key employee who knows everything about the business and their knowledge was lost?

Through the years, there are any number of issues I’ve lost sleep about over our business.  They range from losing a partner, to losing a client, to what would happen if we were hit by a tornado.  No matter what could happen, the doors must stay open because we all depend on it for our livelihood.  This is why BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING (BCP) is so important.

I realize we could focus on the technology aspect of BCP in this discussion, but it’s so much bigger than that.  It encompasses every aspect of the business; from staffing, to management succession, to operations, and yes even to technology.  Our goal is to raise awareness about the need for BCP, and share our story about how the planning exercises helped us to address potential risks and improve how we operate our business.

Normally BCP is perceived as a negative.  If you’re in a highly regulated industry, it’s mandated.  If not, BCP is sometimes considered a necessary evil; it’s optional.  It’s the business version of life insurance.  Most of us would rather not think about it even though we’ll most likely need it at some point.  We simply don’t want to take the time out of our busy day to think about the bad things that could happen and how to protect ourselves.

Do you remember when you bought your first life insurance policy?  While some of us were discussing coverage and premium levels with our agent, we figured out that the premiums would go down if we quit smoking and lost weight.  That meeting not only gave us the opportunity to secure our family’s financial future, but it also showed us how to extend and improve the quality of our lives.  In the same way BCP not only offers protection for your company, it also provides a roadmap of how to improve your business if it’s embraced with an open mind.

It’s been our experience that very few businesses choose to integrate BCP into their everyday activities and if they do, very few of them use it to improve their business.  We discovered early on in our BCP that when we documented our processes we found waste that was costing us time and money.  Over time, as we addressed these issues one by one, the efficiencies we gained improved our productivity.

Fair warning, if you do begin BCP, it can become addictive.  For us, once we saw the results, it became a part of our routine.   Now, our leadership team annually creates a risk assessment and focuses on the issues that are most likely to shut the doors if they occur.  We create a risk mitigation plan and tackle the most pressing issue(s) first and work from there.

At the same time we also review the business from the top down with the mindset of looking for inefficiency.  To this day, we’ve yet to pull out our plan, but we’re better prepared than ever before.   As a bonus, the productivity improvements we’ve adopted have directly impacted our bottom line.

Business Continuity Planning Simplified

BCP “identifies an organization’s exposure to internal and external threats and synthesizes hard and soft assets to provide effective prevention and recovery for the organization, while maintaining competitive advantage and value system integrity”.   A business continuity plan is a roadmap for continuing operations under adverse conditions such as a storm or a crime.

What’s the biggest risk or threat to your business?  What keeps you up at night knowing if xyz happened, you’d have to shut down?  It could be anything.  It could be IT or it could be losing a key employee.  It could be losing a key account or even a vendor you depend on.  It could even mean that you couldn’t work for whatever reason.

This is your starting point.  Bring in those you trust and talk through the risk(s) and document everything about it.  Put a plan together and work the plan until you’re satisfied you’ve addressed every contingency.

Once the plan is finished, test it out.  See how well it works.  During the test, you’ll most likely find ways to improve on it.  While you’re at it, evaluate each of the components of the plan to see if there are ways to speed it up.  You may find that you can apply these adjustments to your everyday activities that will affect your daily routine.

Be prepared.  It’ll take time.  It can’t be done overnight and you never arrive.  It’s up to you to be relentless about working the plan a little bit every day because your business depends on it.   In the meantime, roll out the new efficiencies you discover and see how it impacts the bottom line.

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