Did you know thathalf of organizations worldwide don’t have a business continuity plan? This is a concerning statistic, especially in today’s world where the unexpected is all too familiar. That’s why creating a business continuity plan is a necessary safeguard against disrupting unknowns, like COVID-19.

The concept of business continuity is more than just preparing for disasters, though. Proactive leaders recognize it as an opportunity. Creating a blueprint of resilience offers:

  • Strategic Preparedness: Your organization will be proactively ready for an inevitable crisis.

  • Operational Flexibility: Your team will be able to adapt quickly to change in order to maintain continuity.

  • Competitive Advantage: Prepared organizations will always be ahead of the unprepared.About 30% of a business's long-term relative total shareholder return is determined by its performance during crises.

This is a Business Challenge, Not Just an IT Challenge

A common misconception is that business continuity is only something for IT leaders to worry about. While IT is thetip of the spear in terms of creating plans and action points, it’s not just about data backups or recovery plans. 

Similar tosuccession planning, true resilience touches every aspect of your organization. Operations, customer service, accounting, sales – everything. Every team member plays a role in maintaining this continuity. When disaster strikes, the question isn’t only whether your data is safe, but whether your team can continue to operate, no matter the circumstances.

“View crises as inevitable disruptions to be prepared for, managed, and leveraged for competitive opportunity, rather than infrequent one-off events to be defended against ad hoc.”

-Harvard Business Review

The key is to create a culture of preparedness. This involves regular training, clear communication in an emergency, and a plan that everyone knows. Encouraging individuals across an organization to invest in the plan means each person is their own failsafe. Everyone will be ready and invested in resilience together.

Business Continuity Best Practices

How do you actually create a culture of preparedness? Start with these business continuity best practices. Your goal is to create systems that ensure your organization’s durability and flexibility – no matterwhat comes your way.

1. Address Pressing Issues First

The first step in building a resilient organization is to address both operational and technological issues head-on. Start by examining your day-to-day operations, such as payroll processing, email communications, and access to important documents. Ask yourself, “How would these essential functions continue in the event of a disruption?”

Don’t forget to assess your current IT infrastructure's readiness to support the following:

  • Remote Work: Are your employees set up towork from anywhere? Do they have laptops or desktops? If you work in an office space, do you have a backup location?

  • Data Access: Where are your critical files located? Do you have a cloud setup? If your data is located on an on-premise server, could the location of that server be at risk?

  • Recover Times: How long would it take for you to get back up and running after a disaster? If it’s more than a few hours, you must act.

The key is to focus your business continuity plan on your specific situation. You know how your team operates. Use that knowledge to determine any potential gaps in your current plan, if you have one.

2. Document & Distribute: What are the Specifics of the Plan?

Next, you must document the plan. That might sound like a basic business continuity best practice, but it’s vital. Documentation and distribution of your business continuity plans are as important as the plan itself.

Create a dedicated business continuity team, even if you primarily haveremote employees. Include members from various departments to ensure a holistic approach to the plan.

The specifics of your plan should have:

  • Outlined Roles and Responsibilities: Who does what in the event of a disruption? List specifics. Clearly defined roles, like who calls the insurance company, ensure there is no confusion.

  • Important File Locations: Team members should know where essential files are stored. In the event of a disaster, are these locations secure and accessible?

  • Backup Procedures: Make sure that backups are not just happening routinely, but are tested as well.

The goal is for your people to know exactly what to do with no question marks. For instance, at Ceeva, our team knows that, in case of an emergency or outage with our office, we should gather at ourCEO, Jerry Shafran’s, house. In many ways, a business resilience plan can be no different than a fire escape plan.

To ensure the effectiveness of your plan, revisit and refresh it at least on an annual or biannual basis. This regular review process means you’re addressing needs as the world evolves. Think of it as your business’s annual trip to the dentist.

3. Create a Fail-Safe Plan: Protect it With a Good Technical Environment

Finally, on a fundamental level, consider the location and environment of where your plan is stored. Ask yourself the following:

  • How is my plan backed up?

  • If it's on a physical server, where are those located?

  • Are there multiple backups?

  • Should I use a cloud environment?

It’s necessary to take a well-rounded approach; have both paper and digital backups. Put the physical documents in a safe location. Then, for digital, utilize cloud environments accessed through VPNs for secure remote access.

Most importantly, make sure the documentation is readily accessible to all relevant parties. Each person with responsibility should know where to look.

Let’s Build or Refresh Your Business Continuity Together

The events of recent years have reminded the world of the value of business continuity. Let’s not wait for the next major disruption to show the cracks in your preparedness.

Instead, let’s proactively build a business continuity plan for your organization.

With our decades of experience, Ceeva is ready to support your journey towards a more resilient future. Together, we’ll make sure your organization is prepared for anything. 

Learn more about ourbusiness continuity services!