Business Continuity: what is it exactly and what is the best way to approach it? The aim is always to minimise the loss of turnover and productivity in crisis situations. Below we explain what this involves and we give you a number of practical tips.
Set the right priorities
Business Continuity is broader than Disaster Recovery: the former is strategic in nature while the latter is enacted at the operational level and is mainly IT-related. Business Continuity and the Business Continuity Plan or BCP must safeguard the business processes that are essential for the survival of your company.
Basically, you take the necessary steps to prepare your company for unforeseen crisis situations. Setting the right priorities is especially important in this respect. What those priorities are differs from company to company. One of the most important steps towards business continuity is therefore determining your critical business processes and analysing the risks. Only then can you see what needs to be done for those processes to continue in all circumstances.
Design a plan for crisis situations
An unexpected crisis can have various causes – not only IT problems or cyber attacks, but also, for instance, political or economic circumstances and human or natural causes. In any case, such crisis situations can have a major impact on business operations – just think of COVID-19. Therefore it is essential that you, as a company, provide an approach to keep critical business operations running so that any negative consequences are kept to a minimum.
According to market researcher Graydon, 80% of small and medium-sized companies in the Benelux have no Business Continuity Plan. So there is still a lot of work to be done.
Practical tips for Business Continuity
- Keep it practical and pragmatic, limited to the essentials for your business.
- Make Business Continuity a strategic issue that the business management wants to commit to.
- ‘Fix the roof while the sun is shining’ (JFK): don't wait for a real crisis to start working on Business Continuity.
- Seek external advice. You can contact banks, ‘social secretariats’ (payroll and HR administration agencies), insurers and IT service providers such as Cheops.
- Take compliance standards such as ISO 27001, ISO 22301 and HIPAA directly into account.
- Be sure to check what is already available within the company. For example, the GDPR requires you to map processes in which privacy-sensitive information is stored or processed.
- Test your Business Continuity Plan with real scenarios.
- Assign clear roles and responsibilities in a crisis mode and ensure that you can monitor the impact of your measures.
- ‘Perception is reality’, so ensure good communication, both internally and externally.