It’s safe to say that the current economic landscape is not one that any business planned for when the calendar flipped from 2019 to 2020. How can a business plan for the unplannable?
That’s where business continuity planning comes in. Business continuity is your organization’s ability to maintain essential functions both during and after a disaster has occurred. Many businesses already have plans in place for things like natural disasters, cyber-attacks, or even losing a key employee. Some likely have plans for supply chain failure. Business continuity plans outline procedures and instructions an organization must follow in the face of disaster, covering processes, assets, human resources, partners, and more.
Few to none probably had plans for a pandemic.
Is It Too Late Now?
Business disruptions usually cost money. Lost revenue, combined with additional expenses, cuts into profits. Insurance won’t cover everything, and it certainly cannot replace any customers you lose to competition in the meantime. Having a business continuity plan is essential.
If you’ve never taken the time to build a business continuity plan, you may be behind the power curve, but it’s not too late to start making a plan now for what’s coming next, both in regards to COVID-19 and its aftermath and other disasters and disruptions that may occur in the future.
Let’s take a look at six general steps for developing a business continuity plan.
6 Steps for Building a Business Continuity Plan
Start by assessing which processes in your business are most vulnerable, and the losses that could result if those processes were to go down for a day, a week, a month, or in the case of COVID-19, perhaps longer. From there you can develop your plan using these six steps:
- Identify the scope of the plan.
- Identify key business areas.
- Identify critical functions.
- Identify dependencies between various business areas and functions.
- Determine acceptable downtime for each critical function.
- Create a plan to maintain operations.
You may need several different recovery strategies for various areas of the business. In the rapid turn to working from home, IT teams have been at the forefront of ensuring networks, servers, and equipment are up to the task. This means your plan should include recovery strategies for information technology so that tech can quickly be restored in time to meet business needs. This might include manual workarounds that will let the business continue while technology is being restored.
Another objective that might be part of your business continuity plan is a disaster recovery plan, which focuses mainly on restoring your IT infrastructure and operations after a crisis. You’ll also want to include a business impact analysis, which identifies the impact of a sudden loss in business functions, usually quantified in a cost. It will help you review all of your business’ processes to determine which are most important.
Once your business continuity plan is created, the only way to know whether or not it will actually work is to test it. That might be difficult if you’re creating your plan in the middle of a crisis, such as the current health and economic crisis. But testing in as much of a controlled environment as you can will give you the chance to find and close gaps to tighten up the plan.
If you’ve never created a business continuity plan before, it can seem intimidating but there are plenty of resources that can provide help:
- Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs: National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1600
- Professional Practices for Business Continuity Professionals: DRI International (non-profit business continuity education and certification body)
- Continuity Guidance Circular 1, Continuity Guidance for Non-Federal Entities: Federal Emergency Management Agency, CGC 1
- Open for Business® Toolkit: Institute for Business & Home Safety
Drive Business Continuity With Acumatica and ASI
Technology can be a major constant that will help your business keep moving forward in the face of disaster, scaling and changing to meet economic and other shifts, as needed, to keep the business afloat until you can find more solid footing.
Today, there isn’t a business in the world which hasn’t been affected in some way by COVID-19. Organizations that rely on ERPs such as Acumatica are finding that secure, mobile access to their cloud ERP solution is enabling them to continue working with their expected data access, even though it’s no longer “business as usual.” Acumatica maintains its own business continuity planning, and is devoted to making sure its customers and partners can also experience business continuity. Read more about their powerful commitment—and its results—here.
Find out how ASI can help your business get up and running on Acumatica so you can focus on getting your business back on its feet. Talk to a software expert for a free consultation now.