By Maya Kluckow, Marketing Assistant at Track24/AtlasNXT
Business continuity is defined as an organisation’s level of preparedness to maintain operations after an emergency or disruption. In order to ensure critical events do not have a negative impact on business operations, organisations must ensure they have an effective business continuity plan in place. Furthermore, an effective business continuity plan will mean an organisation is better qualified to fulfil its duty of care to employees. Organisations who fail to have an up to date business continuity plan in place could face consequences such as financial losses, declines in productivity, and risks of breaching compliance regulations. Below are five factors to consider when formulating an effective business continuity plan.
Managing risk mitigation
Organisations often start with evaluating risk. Risk may be anything which impacts operations from running, from strikes and travel disruptions to bomb threats and cyber-attacks. Successful risk mitigation commonly includes regular assessments, clear communication protocols, and robust contingency plans to ensure business can continue to operate despite unforeseen events.
Effective risk mitigation requires a proactive approach that involves engaging with your key stakeholders, leveraging technology and data analytics, and continuously refining the plan to adapt to changing circumstances. “Less than a week after the US terror attacks of 9/11, the major financial institutions in Manhattan that had been severely affected by the terrorist attacks were reopened for business. This was due largely to sophisticated business continuity planning.” Source. It is crucial for organisations to have a comprehensive risk mitigation plan in place. In times of crisis. Companies which have invested in business continuity planning are better equipped to respond quickly and effectively, minimising the impact of disruption on their operations. The redefinition of risk is something which is becoming increasingly personal to individual organisations. Managing risk mitigation is a critical aspect of business continuity planning.
Planning an effective response
As the business landscape continues to evolve “Companies should be agile and flexible to be able to cope with external pressures that are posed on them. Before anything happens to a business, plans should be there or get quickly created in ensuring that a sustainability of operations is maintained.” Source. To maintain a sustainable business operation it’s essential to ensure a quick and relevant response to any potential situation can be enacted.
Organisations are advised to be prepared for any event. It doesn’t take a major catastrophe to create an impact on daily operations, minor disruptions such as rail strikes, power failures and loss of computer data should be considered when planning an effective response. To do this, your organisation can first, identify any potential risks which might cause vulnerability, then identify an action for each of them and decide who in the company is going to implement this action, as well as any resources and timescales associated with each risk. Planning for an emergency or disruption is best organised when your organisation is functioning normally, and not when an event occurs.
Roles and responsibilities
Identifying the roles and responsibilities within your organisation is a key factor to consider for an effective business continuity plan. Identifying and delegating responsibilities to potential risks ensures a smooth and effective plan of action prevents any negative impact on business operations from occurring, as well as fulfils your duty of care to your employees. “All organisations, whether public or private, have a duty of care and not having a business continuity plan can violate that standard of care.” Source. Duty of care is particularly important to consider in our post-pandemic environment, which has created an increase in remote and hybrid working and in the number of lone workers in the UK, to around 6 million, and also globally. An organisation’s obligation to provide a duty of care to its people has never been more apparent. Having an effective business continuity plan in place fulfils your organisation’s duty of care obligations, in keeping your people safe and secure.
Having clear communications in the event of a crisis, incident or disruption can ensure that employees and external contacts are kept up to date and can respond efficiently. An effective business continuity plan should include a list of key contacts responsible for each potential risk. It is important to consider who in your organisation will enact particular parts of your plan, from IT to security, your organisation can gain insight by sharing information departmentally. “How information is gathered and shared throughout an organisation to inform decision-making is crucial.” Source. Effective business continuity plans include different levels of responses. Not everything is critical to maintain competent business operations. Although there should be key people designated to enact the plan, everyone in the organisation should be aware of at least the most basic steps of how to respond during an emergency or disruption to ensure company wide continuity.
Testing and training
A critical element of an effective business continuity plan is to test the plan you have created. Does your organisation provide training courses to its employees when it comes to potential risks? By testing realistic scenarios you can not only train your employees, but flag any potential flaws in the plan and correct them before a real crisis occurs, ensuring a quick and effective response in the event of an emergency. “Business Continuity’s most distinctive feature is that it trains the reactive ability of an organization to respond to serious events”. Source. Something as simple as a tabletop exercise with employees discussing a plan of action can help ensure your employees are aware of ways in which they can act proactively, rather than reactively, to lessen the impact on your organisation.
In today’s fast-paced and unpredictable business environment, having a solid business continuity plan is essential for any organisation. By considering the five factors outlined; managing risk mitigation, planning an effective response, identifying roles and responsibilities, implementing critical communications, and conducting testing and training – your organisation can enhance its level of preparedness and minimise the impact of potential disruptions on operations. Investing in business continuity planning not only helps to safeguard your organisation, but also demonstrates a commitment to fulfilling your duty of care to employees, which has become increasingly important in the post-pandemic world. A business continuity plan works best when it’s predetermined, well documented and clearly communicated and reviewed company-wide, outlining how your organisation should respond in the event of an emergency or disruption to mitigate risk.
Business continuity plans are key to taking a proactive approach to any potential disruptions to everyday business operations. As the business landscape continues to evolve, so does the definition of critical events and risk management. For more information on managing critical events in business see our blog on critical event management.
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