An introduction to business continuity

Business continuity pertains to the processes, procedures, decisions, and activities that ensure that an organisation can operate and maintain its critical and essential business functions during emergency events/disasters or unplanned events. These events can range from minor to catastrophic, including natural disasters, pandemics (like Covid-19), cyberattacks, and other external threats. Provision should be made to prepare not only for events that will stop or hinder functions, but also for those that could potentially impact or affect services and functions adversely.

 

Two of the vital areas surrounding business continuity are:

 

  • Business continuity planning: The process of developing a system or plan, which, upon implementation, will be able to help with or prevent operational disasters, interruptions, catastrophes and emergencies. Furthermore, it includes identifying risks relevant to a specific organisation. Once these risks have been determined, the plan should also include how they will affect daily operations, implementing the necessary systems and procedures to reduce the risks. The plan’s purpose is to help an organisation to return swiftly to its normal business routines, despite the occurrence. Once a plan or system has been formalised, it needs to be tested thoroughly to vet its effectiveness.

 

  • Business continuity management: The continuous management and oversight of an applicable and relevant business continuity plan. The aim here is to ensure it is current and up to date.

 

Business continuity involves all planning, preparation, and organising to guarantee that an organisation will perform all vital business functions during emergencies and unplanned events. It identifies and plans for various aspects:

 

  • Providing the necessary means for products and services to still be available to customers.
  • Alternative options to bypass/replace the usually required technology when not available.
  • Identifying what technology is necessary and cannot be substituted via any other means to support crucial business functions.
  • A relocation plan for staff, should the business premises be impacted or classified as unavailable.
  • Constructing teams that will manage and help with the organisation should an emergency event occur.
  • Assuring that backup systems are in place to prevent loss of data and critical information – e.g. secure cloud storage, extra sets of hard copies, or backup hard drives.
  • Identifying core business needs and dependencies to continue functioning correctly, such as crucial staff members and materials/services.
  • Ensuring that an adequate number of staff will be available to assist in the event of a possible emergency.
  • Identifying and providing all necessary support to employees in the event of an emergency or disaster.
  • Establishing a timeline for the amount of time needed to restore the business to be fully operational.
  • Establishing a form of communication to relay vital information to customers and clients and provide the necessary support if a disaster or unplanned event occurred.
  • Frequently planned exercises to ensure that the systems and procedures in place are relevant and functional.
  • Official documentation covering all processes, procedures, decisions, and activities decided upon to plan for business continuity.

 

Any form of disruption of or interference with the daily functionality of an organisation carries the risk of loss of revenue or the threat of continued unsustainability in the long run, depending on the severity of the disruption. It is vital to have processes in place for any form of interference that might affect your company negatively. Being prepared can significantly shorten recovery time from an unplanned event. We hope you find this blog helpful.

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