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Business continuity planning: what you need to address now

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This guide outlines the factors you should consider in business continuity planning in the new business world.

If the past few years have taught businesses anything, it’s the importance of being prepared for everything — especially in your business continuity planning. There are so many factors that can impact your business continuity.

The pandemic is one example, but supply chain issues are also looming. There are also those things that can happen anytime and don’t have anything to do with more prominent outside factors that should be taken into account for business continuity planning, like power outages and failures that affect equipment and electrical systems.

Many variables lead many companies to think it’s time to update their business continuity planning as they start a new year. But this is something that should be kept in mind at any time of the year.

Upgrade your business continuity planning

The following are some things to keep in mind if you’re strategizing about your own business continuity plan this year.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you need to put time and resources into updating your business continuity planning, the answer is yes. When you don’t update your plan regularly, you’re not keeping up with the threats that exist, and your outcomes will not be optimal.

What to consider in business continuity planning

During the pandemic, businesses of all sizes have clearly seen the effects not having a continuity plan has had on their organization. You have to remember that known threats evolve, and new threats constantly emerge.

For example, COVID-19 didn’t just bring general disruption. It led to a rise in the work-from-home environment, leading to evolving and new risks related to cybersecurity.

It would help if you made business continuity planning relevant to current and potentially changing circumstances, so you can speed up the time to recover and gain a competitive advantage.

When you’re updating your business continuity plan, you want to ask yourself what currently exists within it that’s worth keeping. Take out what’s no longer relevant and consider whether perhaps your plan is too vague or, on the other hand, too rigid.

What about the technology and vendors you rely on? Do you understand their business continuity strategies and how these will affect you?

Since the last time you updated the business continuity planning, have your overall goals or priorities changed, or have there been significant changes to the processes in your business?

Specifically, how frequently you update a business continuity plan now and going forward will depend on things like your operations, risk profile, and industry. You should aim as a general rule of thumb regardless of the specifics to review your BC plan every six months.

Along with regular reviews, you should also update your plan if there are significant changes to business operations or you learn anything through real-world experience that would call for it.

When you update your continuity plan, make sure you communicate changes to stakeholders and staff and train everyone.

Changes impacting business continuity planning

With those general things in mind regarding updating the plan, below are some of the specific considerations and lessons you can take into the future.

Covid Isn’t Going Anywhere

The COVID-19 virus seemingly came out of nowhere and changed the world. Now, two years into it and during the Omicron surge, we know that it’s likely to become endemic. There could be continuing waves of the pandemic that affect businesses at varying points. There could be micro effects, such as sick employees.

There can also be macro effects of COVID, such as problems with the supply chain. It would help if you solidified the lessons learned in the past few years, integrated them into your business continuity planning, and also applied what’s been learned to other potential threats.

Working From Home Will Probably Continue

Working from home became a necessity in March 2020 whenever possible. Before the pandemic, the idea of working from home was more theoretical. Sure, it was a growing reality, but nothing like the large-scale work-from-home environment we see now.

Keeping in mind WFH isn’t temporary, you need to begin thinking about whether your disaster recovery plan will be able to give you the framework to respond to cybersecurity threats outside of the office appropriately. Are you considering the logistics of employees working from home as well? What about data loss that happens outside the office?

Extreme Weather

Of course, the weather is difficult to predict, and in 2021, many businesses saw the effects of weather events when they were already dealing with significant other struggles.

For example, record cold temperatures in Texas led to a massive power outage. There was flooding over the summer of 2021 in central China and western Europe affecting supply chains. In December 2021, the Midwest saw tornadoes, and throughout the world in 2021, there were heatwaves and wildfires.

Your business continuity planning for this year should include planning for potential severe or extreme weather events, which might also tie into your WFH plans.

Supply Chains

The supply chain logistics mess around the world isn’t looking to let up any time soon—some of the factors affecting global supply chains included the pandemic, weather, and economic factors. There have been bottlenecks at major ports around the country, labor shortages, and problems with infrastructure.

So, build into your business continuity planning what you’re going to do to best help you deal with these scenarios. You want to check in with your manufacturers and any distributors you work with to see their continuity plan and how it impacts you. You might also think about adding in backup vendors.

As you update your business continuity planning, while, of course, you’ll consider the factors above and how they might impact your business, you also don’t want to forget to put your people first. Your people are your primary asset to everything you do, and they need to be critical within your business continuity planning. You want to make sure that you remember them within the context of things like a lack of engagement and how that becomes a business risk and burnout.

Conclusion

The past two years have been challenging for a business, to say the least, but the only thing to do at this point is to take what you’ve learned and apply it in ways that make your organization stronger and more resilient.

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