The Critical Importance of Business Continuity Planning
In 2020, many business leaders had a crash course in the importance of business continuity planning. For many, it may have been a wake-up call that they’d rather forget. But the truth is, business continuity planning is crucial for any business at all times, not just during a global crisis or worldwide event.
If a natural disaster disables a satellite office for a few weeks, a cyber-attack hobbles communication at your headquarters, or the continuing supply chain delay inhibits the production of a key product line, do you have an ongoing business continuity plan in place?
Here’s why business continuity is crucial and why you should continuously and proactively update your plan, even if you think the latest crisis has passed. In these uncertain times, the next emergency is likely just around the corner.
What is Business Continuity?
Business continuity means that your company, no matter the size or infrastructure, has the procedures and processes in place to ensure continued operation and functioning throughout a disruption. Disruptions can come in many forms, and hindsight is 20/20. A solid business should be proactive rather than reactive—meaning, you should have your business continuity plan in place long before you face a disaster.
When you execute a business continuity plan correctly, it should even help your business identify and avoid potential disasters and crises. While you can’t predict the future, you can predict and create contingencies and redundancies for many operations that could face disruption in the face of a global event. It’s not so much pinning down and defining what the disruption will be but rather knowing that you’re prepared to face the unknown with confidence.
There are two areas of continuity that all businesses need to address:
- Developing business continuity plans
- Managing and maintaining business continuity plans
Developing the business continuity plan is often the more exciting, innovative task. It feels empowering to envision guiding your ship throughout a disaster, correcting course, and enabling the protection of your most important assets. It can be a great way to test current procedures and operations, ensuring everything is shored up and ready for disaster.
The real test in business continuity planning is the ongoing management and continued maintenance of your plans. Business continuity management means updating procedures, creating new backup processes, exploring supply and communication channels, considering cloud services, and revisiting business continuity regularly. Unfortunately, once business continuity is in place, it may fall by the wayside if leadership fails to keep it continuously managed.
Each time a new process, procedure, asset, or product line comes about, it’s likely time to review your business continuity. Likewise, if the management structure changes, new challenges arise, or opportunities emerge, you should also address the question of business continuity maintenance.
The Outsized Benefits of Business Continuity
The benefits of business continuity are evident in a crisis. When your business is in the throes of a disaster, everyone values the presence of business continuity plans.
But even in times of plenty, business continuity planning is a valuable practice for any organization. While every business continuity plan will look a little different and fit the specifics of the operation, there are some common benefits of implementing and maintaining a business continuity plan.
You’ll gain insight into your processes.
As a leader, visiting and implementing a business continuity plan allows you to explore the processes you have in place. You’ll engage with your team, and it will give you a chance to examine gaps in areas like IT security, supply chain diversification, and multi-location quality control.
You’ll reduce dependency on leadership.
In a crisis, leadership is often as visible as possible for the organization. Having a business continuity plan ensures that the chain of command is solid. Should you or other key management team members get waylaid by a disaster or emergency, business continuity ensures that your company can run without you. Not only does it reduce pressure on the leadership, but it empowers employees, increases buy-in, and even reduces turnover. Employee disengagement can lead to 18-43% higher turnover rates compared to engaged employees.
You’ll ensure continued productivity.
Productivity and output are almost always lost during a crisis or disruption. Business continuity plans ensure active measures are taken to keep your team performing as optimally as possible, even under difficult circumstances. This may mean implementing cloud-based applications, increasing automation, or exploring other ways to streamline processes. Your business continuity plan should include reactive measures—worst-case scenarios and what to do when protections fail or are bypassed. While some productivity loss is inevitable during a crisis, planning helps ensure an eventual return.
You’ll reassure employees and clients.
Ultimately, customers and clients want to know that steps are taken to continue business and meet their needs in a crisis. Employees, too, want to know that they’re safe and can rely on their employment in uncertain times. Ensuring that you’ve addressed business continuity plans helps bring everyone peace of mind.
IBA Group: Example of Business Continuity at Work
As an international business, IBA Group has taken many steps to ensure business continuity in the face of several recent global challenges. We developed policies and procedures for continuous operation and disaster recovery, as well as process-level plans for recovering critical technology platforms, and organizational and telecommunication infrastructures.
We have our secure communication channels. Still, during the political crisis of 2020, the internet was blocked for three days, requiring us to set up an additional internet channel. As a result, we have redundant channels for our internet connectivity, ensuring that our locations can always access needed resources.
Our data center, located in eastern Europe, is highly reliable and secure. However, we set up additional infrastructure facilities (data center) in Prague, Czech Republic, to enhance business continuity. Therefore, our company is well-positioned to adapt flexibly to potential threats and hand over critical tasks to secure locations should the need arise.
We have development centers in several different countries, including our centers in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Bulgaria, with expanding development centers in Poland, Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Lithuania. This ensures that crises, as in Ukraine, and other global conflicts won’t disrupt and block communication, growth, and development. In addition, our network of development centers in eight different countries allows for employee relocation as needed.
As part of our business continuity plan, we shift skilled resources to secure locations, acting as extensions of the local teams. Key specialists are also relocated as needed, depending on the situation.
Unfortunately, global crises will continue to arise in our constantly changing environment. Flexibility and adaptation are vital qualities of business enterprises that will maintain their success, no matter the situation or challenge.
For more on adapting and growing your business, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re ready to serve your future with customer-centric technological solutions.