40 percent of small businesses never reopen after a disaster. Another 25 percent fail within a year later. IT downtime costs business an average of $1.55 million and 545 hours in staff productivity per year. Those are troubling statistics, considering 48 percent of small businesses lack a business continuity plan. Business disruptions impact you in the long-term by influencing customer and investor perceptions of confidence. So, it’d be strange to not have a business continuity plan. The potential negative effects are broader than we think they are at first glance.
Wait, What’s Business Continuity?Business continuity refers to the collection of tasks and practices necessary to prevent a business from breaking down during and after catastrophes. However, we have the habit of thinking the worst won’t happen to us. Or, we think we’re not big enough to warrant putting in prevention systems. Unfortunately, reality isn’t so kind. There are several ways your business can be disrupted:
- Natural Disasters
- Infrastructure Problems: Issues with utilities and infrastructure resulting from natural disasters, fallen trees, etc.
- Cyber Attacks: DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks, among other malicious hacking attempts to disrupt your business, are growing threats. IT security and backup plays a large role in mitigating cyber attacks.
- Staff Shortages
- Accidents and Errors: Employees can accidentally damage IT systems. Not everybody in your company grasps the dangers of working with technology. To illustrate, installing a personal wi-fi router into a managed internet network can cause serious problems—reducing security, and even denying internet service to many employees.
How Do You Create A Business Continuity Plan?Okay, so you know it’s important to create a business continuity plan to stay competitive. But, how do you go about it? You can rely on IT providers to create portions of these plans. But they can’t provide all the information. Indeed, you are the one who understands who the key players in your company are. If these people are gone, the vacancies can create a bottleneck in your company’s workflow. Are there key supplies or equipment for your company? It might be wise to stock a good deal of these materials in case your access to new supplies is restricted. Talk to any employees who have gone through business disasters successfully. They are likely to have considerable advice on how to set up a disaster recovery plan for your situation. Now, here are the general steps to create a business continuity plan:
- Identify the scope of the plan.
- Identify critical business areas.
- Identify key functions.
- Identify dependencies among various business areas and functions.
- Determine acceptable downtime for each key function.
- Create a plan to maintain operations.