Five Best Practices for Ensuring Your Business Continuity

Business continuity is an essential part of all organizations. By definition, it’s the organization’s ability to  maintain essential functions during and after a disaster has occurred. 

Unfortunately, the 2020 Mercer Covid-19 – Global Survey Coronavirus Impact to Global Market revealed that 51% of global organizations did not have a business continuity plan (BCP). This left them vulnerable to the pandemic and the many disasters that took place last year. 

Now, in 2021, enterprises are wiser and aware of the need to have a business continuity strategy to safeguard their important information assets. 

If you are one of these enterprises, here are five important best practices you need to follow right away. 

1) Make Sure to Have Both Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan 

A business continuity plan (BCP) outlines how an enterprise will proceed during and after disaster strikes. It may entail contingency plans, which outlines how the business will operate even if it has to relocate. A BCP may also factor in smaller interruptions such as extended power outages. 

On the other hand, disaster recovery plans are created to define a response to a catastrophic event such as a natural disaster or cybercrime. 

As IT is the backbone of business these days, an IT DR plan is considered a major component of organizations’ BCP. An IT DR plan ensures that critical IT services are identified, and appropriate planning is done to ensure continuity in case a disaster occurs. 

Your enterprise needs to have both of these plans, not just one. 

A BCP acts as the first line of defense against disaster. Meanwhile, a disaster recovery plan ensures everything is in place for the enterprise to recover and continue critical operations and systems. 

2) Ensure Technology Readiness During Transitional Periods

Technology readiness is one of the important lessons the past year has imparted. With employees shifting to remote work, enterprises learned how their infrastructure is essential for limiting technical risk during crises. 

Here are some tips to help you achieve this:

  • Identify which technology employees will use in the case of any issues affecting business continuity. You should also familiarize your workforce with the tech and best practices they need to remain productive even in far from normal situations. 
  • Ensure your IT team is on standby at all times to provide diagnostics and troubleshooting when necessary. You should definitely take this step in 2021 if your workforce is operating remotely and using a VPN. 
  • Have a technology lending policy ready. Know which equipment should be provided to employees, be it on their request or as per the current situation. 

3) Choose the Right People for Your Emergency Response Team 

Regardless of which business disruption your organization comes across, you need to have a formal management structure that would helm decision making. Emergency response teams (ERT), or incident response teams, will take action during emergency incidents and work towards restoring operations and minimizing losses. 

Your ERT will comprise people from different functions of your organization. For instance, you can include Executive Leadership, Finance, HR, Risk Management, Supply Chain and Distribution. These experts will meet to discuss survivability, communication, and alternate workspaces.

In addition to their existing skillset, you can have to ensure they understand the best practices of business continuity. 

For instance, you can have them train for ISO 22301 Lead Implementer to ensure their ability to understand and manage disasters, incidents, and risks with a  Business Continuity Management System (BCMS). 

4) Always Keep People at the Heart of Your BCP

Organizations cannot function without their people. In fact, during and after a disaster, people are the ones who help an organization get back on its feet. Despite its importance, this factor is not part of most business continuity plans. 

However, things are changing. In fact, the International Organization of Standards (ISO) incorporates this in its upcoming standard ISO 22330. While the standard is in its draft stage, its key points have been revealed –   

“An organization which recognizes the importance of people aspects of business continuity will show the ability to:

  • Assess identified threats and control resultant risks to people related to disruptive  events,
  • Ensure a safe working environment,
  • Recognize the role and added value of people in contributing to business continuity,
  • Promote and embed business continuity management through workforce engagement and involvement led by top management, supported by line management across the organization,
  • Make the protection of people on site during a disruptive event a priority,
  • Recognize the importance of engagement with families of those involved (casualties and responders),
  • Prepare and encourage individuals and teams to respond to the unexpected,
  • Commit to exercising and testing response arrangements, and
  • Ensure efficient and effective communication (internally and externally) is a priority.”

Until you can be certified for this standard, make sure your BCP includes supportive intervention to help employees deal with all forms of trauma after incidents. However, your main goal should be to effectively plan for a crisis to reduce employee stress, anxiety, and fear. 

5) Ensure Better Spend Control for Enhanced Business Resiliency 

Business resiliency is important for business during crises; and at the heart of it is cash flow and liquidity. Ensuring liquidity allows enterprises to weather any disaster, keep employees paid or hire more, and take advantage of any one-time revenue opportunities that come up. 

Here are some tips to help you with this aspect:  

  • Gain more control on and realign spending. Especially improve employee spend, which is usually the second largest line item after payroll. 
  • Proactively manage cash flow. For instance, avail early payment discounts when offered by third party vendors. 
  • Comply with your latest company spend policies. Chances these have evolved in response to uncertain business conditions. 
  • Consider automation to reduce operational costs and manage expenses. Having such a system will further benefit you through added visibility into spending, compliance with regulations, and time savings. 

The Bottom Line

Use these best practices to your advantage so you can secure your enterprise against disaster. If you need help with educating your teams on BCP, LearningCert is here to help. 

Whether you require self-paced training for a few members or instructor-led training for a whole team, we are here to help. Simply discuss your learning needs with our Training Advisors and let us find the right continuity course for you. 

About the Author

Currently serving as the Director Advisory Services at Business Beam, Syed Nabeel Iqbal is a lead trainer at LearningCert. In addition to being an established GRC lead consultant, he has over 16 years of industry experience, in which he conducted 10+ successful training sessions. He’s also an internationally accredited trainer for 15+ standards and frameworks, including COBIT, ITIL, and ISO standards.

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