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Business continuity is critical for organizations of all types and sizes. Not being able to open your doors to customers because of downtime will undoubtedly lead to lost revenue, and raising the possibility of going out of business entirely depending on how long you need to remain closed.
No matter the size of your organization, having defined processes in place to help reduce the chance of downtime as well as reduce time spent closed during catastrophic events is critical when it comes to protecting your organization and assets.
Too many organizations ignore business continuity under the mistaken impression that they’re not “big enough” to warrant equipment, software, and processes that can help keep you up and running instead of closing your doors should something happen.
Whether your company employs 5 or 5000 people, business continuity should be something you document and periodically review to ensure you’re staying as protected as possible against downtime.
The most important aspect of your business continuity plan is its ability to keep your organization’s doors open for as long as possible when you’re faced with a situation that might cause closure otherwise. Some closure situations are temporary and unavoidable, such as blizzards or hurricanes that force your employees to stay home due to travel bans. In those instances, having remote access and unified communications can help you keep making sales and earning revenue even if the doors to your brick and mortar are closed.
Business continuity really comes into play during those situations where downtime and loss could be avoided by having advanced notification of a problem or having documented processes that allow you to address issues as soon as they start, helping to reduce the affects of those incidents.
Smaller organizations can acutely feel the loss of revenue even if you’re forced to close for a short period of time. Smaller payrolls can be impacted almost immediately if your customers can’t buy goods or services from you. A broken website, a warehouse or storage room that’s got a foot of water in it, or an unprotected network that has your customer data compromised or stolen could all be catastrophic for your organization.
Larger organizations may feel like they have a buffer when it comes to losses incurred due to downtime, but the reality is that the lack of a defined business continuity plan or preventative measures at the very least will have a large impact as well. Customer and employee confidence take a big hit when your organization has downtime, especially if it’s publicly noted. Losing immediate sales and long-term relationships hurt far more than damages that insurance may eventually partially cover.
Every organization should invest the time to make sure their business continuity plan is put into place and documented to help drastically reduce the risk of downtime and revenue loss.
Steps you should consider include:
Data security – Protect your network with a firewall, ensure local anti-virus definitions are up to date, and train employees on proper data protection policies (no opening unknown attachments, no external USB drives, etc.).
Data backup – Ensure your data is being backed up in multiple ways to protect against hard drive failure and data loss. Cloud-based options as well as external drives are both options, and it’s critical to periodically check that those backups have been working as scheduled to avoid surprises.
Employee continuity – Revisit your staffing to identify key employees who may be the only ones who know how to perform certain tasks within your business; make sure you either document their duties or cross-train others who can step in if those key employees are out of work for any period of time.
Facility protection – Check smoke detectors and fire alarms to make sure they are in prime working condition. Install monitors and sensors to protect against unexpected water damage from storms, leaking roofs, broken HVAC, etc.
Offsite contingency plan – In the event your facility isn’t accessible, have a documented plan in place that allows your staff to complete as much work as possible remotely so “normal” business can resume as easily as possible once they’re able to return to the office.
Planning for the unplanned is the crux of your business continuity plan. You never know when a sudden storm, construction accident, leaking pipe, or power loss will hit your organization. Make sure your business continuity plan is in place to address as many issues a possible so when the unexpected does happen, you’re prepared for it.