You'd be forgiven for thinking Business Continuity Planning sounds like the business equivalent of Dooms-day prepping...because you're mostly right.
Business continuity planning (BCP) is the process of developing a plan to ensure that your organisation can continue to operate during and after a disruption or unexpected event. The purpose of a current, tried and tested BCP is to identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate those risks in order to minimise the impact on the business. Think about it, if you lost the internet tomorrow, how would your business go on businessing? Well it does because you have a robust BCP in place, of course!
To do this effectively, you need to find a comprehensive and systematic approach to identifying critical business functions, assessing potential risks and impacts, and developing plans to ensure that those critical functions can continue to operate during a disruption. The goal is to minimize the impact of a disruption when these events inevitably occur.
How to go about getting an effective BCP
So you may not have a BCP today but the best time to do something about that is now...and who doesn’t like some simple steps when faced with a behemoth of a task? Below are 5 steps you need to take towards an effective and strongly implemented BCP.
- Risk assessment: Identify the potential risks and threats that could impact your organisation, such as natural disasters, cyber attacks, or equipment failure. This step helps you prioritise your planning efforts and develop a plan that addresses the most critical risks.
- Business impact analysis: Determine the potential impact of each identified risk on your organisation's operations, finances, and reputation. This step helps you understand the consequences of each potential risk and, again, prioritise your planning efforts accordingly.
- Plan development: Develop a comprehensive plan that outlines the steps your organisation will take to continue operations during a disruption. This plan should include key contact information, backup systems and data, and step-by-step procedures for responding to different types of disruptions.
- Testing and training: Regularly test your plan to ensure it is effective and up-to-date. This includes conducting simulated disruptions and crisis drills to ensure all staff are familiar with the plan and know their roles and responsibilities.
- Continuous improvement: Continuously review and update your plan based on lessons learned from testing and any real-life disruptions. This ensures your plan remains effective and up-to-date with changing circumstances and emerging risks.
In doing the above you can develop a comprehensive BCP that ensures your organisation can continue to operate during a disruption and recover quickly from any potential risks or threats.
A failure to plan is planning to fail
If you don’t have a BCP in place you can have significant costs, both financial and non-financial should an event occur. Here are just a few to chew on:
- Downtime and lost revenue should your business be unable to conduct its core operations;
- Damange to reputation that can erode customer confidence and damage your brand trust;
- Legal and regulatory penalties can come into play if you are in an industry that requires an active BCP as a duty of care to your stakeholders;
- Data loss and security breaches can disrupt your IT systems for weeks (or in some cases months) and without good IT practices in place, you cannot carry on serving your clients
- Recovery costs associated with any of the above being unnecessary drawn out and difficult.
In short, the failure to plan for business continuity can lead to significant financial and non-financial costs. It is so hard to proritise the ‘maybe, one days’ in your business but by investing time and resources into your BCP, you can help ensure that your organisation is prepared to respond in the face of the inevitable.
So where to start?
If you're looking for Australian-specific resources on business continuity planning, we've got a few favourites:
The Australian Government's Business website has a page dedicated to business continuity planning. This page provides guidance on how to develop a comprehensive plan, including risk assessment and business impact analysis.
The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) offers a Business Continuity Management (BCM) Special Interest Group. This group provides a forum for members to discuss best practices and share resources related to business continuity planning.
The Business Continuity Institute (BCI) has a chapter in Australia that provides training and certification in business continuity planning. Their website offers a range of resources, including webinars, whitepapers, and other educational materials.
Finally, professional services organisations either generalised to Business Continuity or specific to an area such as IT (like...us!), can provide guidance and support throughout the planning process. When it comes to IT, creating a collaborative BCP is a part of our service, as we believe you cannot be without one. If you want know more or have a conversation about some of the needs you’re seeing in your organisation, we are always here for you.