The business environment is forever changing due to increasing threats and interruptions. Business continuity is an organisation’s ability to ensure operations and main business functions are not harshly impacted by a disaster or unforeseen incident that can take crucial systems offline. Therefore, it is essential to plan and develop a holistic strategy that will address these changes as well as minimise internal and external impacts and losses. Developing such strategies means anticipating threats that may affect the business while making provisions to meet these threats should they occur. An organisation needs to review its business continuity plan each time changes occur. Making use of the business continuity planning steps listed below could help your business avoid these anticipated threats to ensure well-guided planning.
- Initiate the business continuity plan. This happens through gaining support from top management as well as technical stakeholders. In addition, by identifying core business stakeholders’, specific objectives and constraints of the organisation can be established alongside strategic milestones and how to reach them.
- Identify business threats. These threats need to be defined and documented as there may be a lot depending on the environment of the business. These threats should be specific to the industry and the organisation.
- Conduct a risk analysis. Business risks need to be identified to assess the likelihood and the impact of the threats that may occur. These risks need to be categorised and documented according to the level of their threat and how they will be dealt with should they occur.
- Establish the business continuity team. The key stakeholders need to be identified to form a business continuity team. The team needs to be on the same page in terms of objectives and how the plan will work as well as the expected response and engagement. A work plan needs to be established for the team to be aware of their roles and responsibilities and to know what is expected of them.
- Design the business continuity plan. The business’s services need to be identified to be able to see where each risk may occur, and all the key constraints and consequences need to be acknowledged. There should be various plans that should be created and agreed on, especially by top management as well as how these plans will be implemented. This plan should essentially be able to take into consideration the organisation’s resumption response time and the recovery time of the organisation.
- Define your business continuity process. It is important to identify, clearly define and document business continuity processes. These processes should be effectively reviewed and verified with the relevant stakeholders. Training and awareness programs will be needed to ensure the readiness of the organisation. These processes need to be documented and communicated to fully prepare the organisation for any kind of incident that may occur.
- Test your business continuity plan. A test plan is essential to measure the organisation’s plan against its set criteria. The test results need to be documented to determine the overall effectiveness of the plan. Should the plan not be as effective as it needs to be, tests must be conducted continuously until the plan meets the acceptance criteria.
- Review your business continuity plan. A schedule should be established to determine when the plan will be reviewed and updated where necessary. Reviewing the plan should occur when there are significant changes to the organisation, changes in business processes, significant world changes like Covid-19, changes to the budget, and changes in IT and the labour market.
Food for thought: “Having a good business continuity plan is like having insurance: you hope you don’t have to use it, but you reap the rewards when you do. Can your organisation afford not to have one?”
Contact WWISE today on 0861 099 473 or (021) 525 9159 (Cape Town), or email us at email@example.com, to assist you and your organisation with the training and implementation of a business continuity management system.