The disruption caused by COVID-19 has created a seismic shift in priorities for almost everybody on the planet. The key to getting through such a disruption lies with preparation. If you’re finding that you’re in reaction mode to COVID-19, that might mean that – at least for next time – you want to have a business continuity plan that will at least give you a head start on adapting to whatever new normal we get as the result of the next crisis. In this series, we take a look at some of the major business continuity issues you should be thinking about. Let’s start with the start.
What is Business Continuity?
Business continuity is all about making sure your business survives even the most unusual of times. Catastrophic events can and do occur, and the more prepared you are to deal with them, the more likely your business will come out the other side intact.
Failing To Plan Is Planning To Fail
In that sense, business continuity really just centers on making sure that your critical resources—your people, your cash flow and your information—remain intact because without those three things, you won’t have a business.
Sudden, Catastrophic Events
The first part of business continuity planning is to know what events you need to plan for. Just because an event is sudden and catastrophic doesn’t mean it’s unpredictable. If you live in Florida, you kind of know you need a hurricane plan, right? I mean, if a hurricane hits Minnesota maybe that would be a bit of a curveball, but in general you can write out a list pretty quickly of the disasters most likely to affect your business.
Start with natural disasters, floods, fires, ransomware or other technical disasters, loss of a key person, and of course pandemics.
Evaluate Each Potential Catastrophic Event
Each catastrophe is a bit different, and your business continuity planning should take that into account. Understand the similarities between different events, and their differences. For example, if your office burns down or there is a viral outbreak, either way your team will be working from home. But most everything else about those scenarios will be quite different, because your physical premises still exists under one scenario and no longer exists in the other.
What Are Your Core Functions?
Business continuity planning deals with business unusual, rather than business as usual. You want to minimize disruption, of course, but by definition a catastrophic event is disruptive. So it’s best to know what the most important aspects of your business are. For an MSP it’s the functions that directly support what your clients need—serve clients, get paid, business continues.
For all other functions, you can evaluate on a scenario basis. If an earthquake hits your town, you might not need salespeople because you have nobody to sell to. In a viral outbreak, you might need more salespeople because everybody is looking to secure remote work locations. These non-core functions exist for a reason, but catastrophe tends to shift priorities and that’s where you have to understand each scenario and its impact on your operating environment.
Failover and Recovery
Now that you have a sense of what your core functions are that must continue no matter what, develop strategies to make it happen. Mitigating the damage you face from catastrophe, and getting back up to speed as quickly as possible, is often key to surviving a catastrophic event.
As we continue our discussion about business continuity, we’ll talk about how to plan for these events, preventative measures, succession planning and the essential tools of business continuity management (playbooks, checklists, and dry runs). So keep checking back for more insight to help you navigate business unusual.
To jump start your business continuity planning, we invite you to download our comprehensive e-book on Business Continuity Planning.