Business Continuity Planning Key to Successful Organizations

 In Information Technology (IT), Operations, Small Business

Small businesses have become more and more internet reliant over the years. With today’s economy being right in the middle of a digital transformation, companies are beginning to understand how this technological movement can impact them.

From a positive standpoint for some small businesses, it allows them the ability to market, produce, and sell products and services nationally and even internationally and effectively compete with larger enterprises.

It also has led to a growing dependence on SaaS and Cloud products and applications for many job functions across all types of industries. Additionally, for small businesses that do run an ecommerce shop or even process mobile payments, poor connectivity or long internet outages can cause major headaches for workers and negatively impact productivity and sales.

It happens. Just two weeks ago, Comcast reported an external network issue, causing more than 40,000 customers to report issues between the prime business hours of noon through 4 p.m. The outages were widespread, with major issues along the West Coast, in the Midwest, Southeast and more.

Internet outages for a couple hours can be problematic, especially if they happen with any type of frequency. A WiredScore 2015 survey found that 61 percent of employee respondents reported they stopped working or wasted time on other activities when interest access is slow or out, resulting in a 60 percent drop in productivity.

Even more problematic is an outage due to some unexpected large event or disaster that can initially make your business inoperable. That’s where a more formal plan of action, called a business continuity (BC) plan comes into play. To help protect your company during this time, a well-thought out approach is needed. A BC plan includes steps to identify potential issues to your business’ operations, instructions and procedures for employees to follow and it covers business processes, assets, staff, etc. that are essential to keeping your business running.

Taking the time to develop and test a BC plan can make all the difference in your business remaining competitive year after year. Maintaining and increasing your customer base is the key to a successful organization and today there’s an increase in consumer and regulatory security that goes along with that. Your BC plan can address the financial, legal and compliance standards that need to be met while recovering from a disaster.

Carefully assessing how your company functions, what areas are vulnerable, the potential losses the business could experience and what’s essential to get the business back up and running are crucial first measures in formulating a plan. A recent column on CIO.com then suggests following these six general steps to help get started on documenting a BC plan:

  1. Determine the scope of the plan.
  2. Identify key business areas.
  3. Assess critical functions.
  4. Recognize and note dependencies among various company functions.
  5. Determine acceptable downtime for each critical function.
  6. Develop a plan to maintain operations.

Part of the plan to maintain operations will undoubtedly include backup options for internet outages. For example, mobile hotspots are an option for accessing the internet even if your main provider is down. Another avenue companies can consider is retaining the services of a company that specializes in delivering a “hot site” that will provide your company with electrical power, secure computers and backup communications within a specified timeframe.

Remember to communicate not only the specifics of the plan, but where it’s located and who should have it. Plus, don’t go to all that work and not test it. You need it to be foolproof in case of a real incident or disaster. That will come with testing, reviewing and improving the plan annually.

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