If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that to thrive, SMBs have to be prepared to quickly switch gears in the event of a crisis. This is where a business continuity plan (BCP) comes in. A BCP is an important document that defines and documents the actions your company will take in the event of a disaster.
In our experience, the best BCPs take into account all possible scenarios and outline an action plan and standard operating procedures that will ensure an appropriate response and a timely recovery. Take a look below at four reasons why we recommend that you and your SMB’s management team create and put a business continuity plan in place.
A BCP is an essential part of business continuity management, which is all about planning ahead, so your business operations keep running even through a crisis. Strong business continuity saves money, time, and company reputation. It also assures stability in the overall business management, as it helps you and your team foresee possible disruptive incidents, so response can be quick and effective.
ITIC said that 47% of surveyed SMBs who responded to their 2020 Hourly Cost of Downtime Survey, estimated that one hour offline could cost them up to $100,000 in expenses related to lost revenue, a decrease in staff productivity, and response by the IT department. The longer businesses take to recover from an incident, the higher the potential for financial loss.
In our experience, the best practice is to be prepared to take action right away, and the best way to be prepared is to include risk management and business continuity management into your company and prepare a BCP.
The pandemic caught us all by surprise. Nationwide, businesses that had a BCP in place, instructing them to switch to remote operations in the case of a health emergency and lockdowns, were quick to respond. Others were left scrambling to figure out how to provide their customers the service they were used to, while most staff were juggling the home-office setup and their home life.
An extended outage risks financial, personal, and reputational loss for a business. For the second group above, the time spent on getting “back in business” likely meant significant trade-offs that negatively impacted their bottom line; for example, customers going to competitors to fill immediate needs. According to the portal Oregon Live, nearly 13,000 businesses in Oregon closed in early 2020. Most of these companies end up recovering but, unfortunately, the reality for some SMBs was a permanent closure of the business.
We believe the more insight you have into how your SMB’s leadership will respond in the event of a disruption, the better your BCP will be, and the better chances of quick recovery and saving the business. Here are a few categories of incidents to keep in mind as you gather your team to write your plan:
Aside from keeping these types of disruptions in mind and setting up standard procedures on how to react, your plan should also detail the necessary technological components and data that will keep your business functional. In our experience, the best way to identify these necessities is to create an inventory of backup devices and cloud services, including the details surrounding when and where you will back up data.
We encourage leaders like you to engage stakeholders in all departments, in case there is a need for new tools and solutions that could support business continuity management. If you bring the teams together, you may find that you can serve more than one business unit with a single solution. You could ask managers to hold team huddles with their individual contributors first, then compile the feedback and report back to IT with what they have found.
We have found working together like this helps build trust between your IT department and other business units, which further strengthens business continuity planning and risk management. Important questions to ask your IT team or MSP as you are writing your BCP are:
When considering the information to include in your BCP, remember to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. How would you like your favorite provider to respond to a crisis? What would help build your confidence in that company? Likely, your response will be an ability of that company to recover quickly from a crisis and continue business operations as normally as possible. We tend to think organizations that are resilient are more trustworthy, so we continue to give them our business. This, in turn, builds a strong brand reputation. Likewise, if your SMB team has access to the tools and a plan in place to ensure your business experiences as little disruption as possible, their confidence in the brand will soar. This confidence will translate into better business operations, and their preparedness in turn will shine through during crises to help build your SMB’s brand reputation in the market.
To prevent large financial losses, an impact on your brand’s reputation, and loss of your customers’ confidence, your organization needs a business continuity plan.
We recommend you take the time to understand the challenges and problems your staff face on a day-to-day basis to take these issues into account when writing your BCP. Talking to stakeholders in each department will give you the insight you need to start building a plan that will manage risk and ensure your business continues to work, even when faced with disruptions like natural disasters or cyberattacks.
At StepUP IT, our job is translating business goals into technology solutions. If you want your business to remain safe in the event of disasters but have little time, don’t worry – you can get in touch with us now to talk about ways we can help.