Written by: Karen Fischbach – Pro Leaders Academy Pty Ltd
The last few years have taught us that we must be prepared for anything. Australia can be a harsh land with wild bushfires and flash floods, but a global Pandemic – who would have considered that a real risk?
That’s the point though, businesses now have to expect the unexpected!
Planning to keep your business continuing means considering a range of alternative ways of operating to stay open and trading. That is essentially how a Business Continuity Plan helps you manage and reduce your risk during times of unforeseen hardship.
Firstly, having a clear understanding of your business risks and events (natural or otherwise) that have the potential to stop the business in its tracks is essential to understanding what to plan for. It does not have to be as serious as a disaster. Losing power, key staff, IT systems or telephony may be enough to paralyse a business.
Secondly, there will be some issues that can be worked around, but there will be others that a business has to accept, like weather events, because they cannot be prevented from happening. Strategies are planned to manage the impact of those to minimise the damage, use alternative ways of operating and to keep everyone safe.
Each business is unique, so there is a specific plan tailored to suit. Be prepared though, because some continuity strategies cost money, for example if a power generator is required – it will cost to buy one, but also to maintain it while it is not in use. However, the benefits will outweigh the cost in the long run (probably from the first use).
Thirdly, every business must be prepared, so when any incident or event occurs, it is another operating mode the staff transition into to continue services. This has an additional benefit of creating a workforce that is adaptable, which will help business scale up or rapidly transition to different ways of doing things in any unexpected situation.
Finally, the harshest lesson learned in 2020 was one crucial element that few businesses, especially small to medium businesses had ready. It is always great when a business is doing well, but there has to be a balance to support the business when times are not so lucrative. A build-up of reserve cash will support the business to continue through lost revenue or reduced trading during any outage or adverse interruption.
Understand, strategise & plan, prepare and reserve are the key messages to manage business continuity.