Four Questions to Ask When Considering Business Continuity

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Business Continuity PlanWe all remember the Boy Scouts ant their famous motto, ‘Be Prepared’.  Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts when asked in an interview what they should be prepared for his answer was, “Anything”. Businesses should take this to heart, and always be prepared for every eventuality. One important way this can be done is through Business Continuity – a plan or process that enables businesses survive disasters that might otherwise spell the end. This should be on every business’ to-do list. If you’re looking to develop a working business continuity plan, there’s a few things you need to consider beforehand.

Four questions to consider when looking at a Business Continuity plan:

  1. What systems need to be recovered first? A great way to start is to request each department to list their utmost essential systems and rank them in the specific order they need them back online in order to do their jobs. You can then compare the inter-departmental answers and rank them in priority sequence. For example, if every department says they need internet connectivity back first, its pretty clear that the internet needs to come back online first.
  2. What do we need to assure customers of stability? Obviously for the vast majority of businesses, the customer is the lifeblood. However, most customers will only stick around for a limited amount of time before ditching you for a competitor if you can’t meet their needs. To keep customers sticky during a time of disaster, you have to prove you are either stable, or working hard (and fast) to get there. An example of this would be an offsite facility where your systems and data are being replicated.
  3. What about business partners? Your business partners are equally as important as your clients and are often the glue that holds you and your customers together. With partners, it is not uncommon to have rigid requirements that must be met in order to continue order fulfillment and shipment. This is especially true with high-transaction businesses and those with complex supply chains. You need to be aware of what these are and the related systems. After all, you have delivery commitments so how do you propose getting your products to your customers?
  4. Are there any contractual obligations with vendors? Businesses that work with vendors regularly have contractual obligations such as payment schedules, or a set product clip level in order to fulfill the contract. As with your business partners, you need to be crystal clear on what these obligations are, and how you expect to meet them. For example, if your monthly pay schedule for a supplier is on the 1st of every month, most will expect payment on the 1st, irrespective of whether you are operational or not.

Once you have the answers to these four basic questions you should have a pretty good handle on your priorities and can then devise timelines of how long continuity actions should take. From there, you can draft your actual plan.  And of course you don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) go it alone.  You can look for vendors that can work with your systems and provide a business continuity plan or service that meets your needs.

If you are looking for a way to start your business continuity plans, please give us a call. We have solutions that fit every business and budget.