Here is an overview about Business Continuity Planning and how it can be the difference between your business surviving or failing. It will discuss the risks to your business, what a BCP looks like and how to implement one
If you are new to this term and exploring your options, we’ve broken down this article into 5 parts which you can jump right into after clicking on the links below:
- What is a Business Continuity Plan?
- How to Start Your Business Continuity Planning
- What are the Risks?
- Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery (PPRR Framework)
- Rehearse, Maintain and Review
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) involves creating system of recovery and prevention to deal with external factors and potential threats to a company. A company’s resistance or resilience to failure is their ability to withstand external shock-waves and still function.
Any external event that impacts the operations of your business should be included in your business continuity plan. Business Continuity Planning outlines a range of disaster scenarios and the steps to overcome the problem and return to normal trade. However right now, most businesses will be focusing their business continuity management on one disaster, the COVID-19 pandemic.
How to Start Your Business Continuity Planning
COVID-19 has turned the world upside down and turn business as usual on its head and it might be time to start your business continuity planning. In manufacturing and supply chain we are seeing a range of outcomes from businesses struggling with unprecedented workloads to other who have seen order books evaporate.
Whatever the scenario your business is facing, it is clear we are all going to be facing tough times for the next few months. What you do now will dictate how well you come out the other side. You should be thinking about contingency plans to alleviate any potential impacts to your business. Business Continuity Planning is the framework that can help you get through to the other side.
A Business Continuity Plan is designed to anticipate and plan for the key risks that may fact your business in the coming months. By acting quickly and decisively, you maximise the chances of your business surviving.
What are the Risks?
When thinking about your Business Continuity plans you should analyse any potential risks that may have adverse effects on your business. Depending on the industry you are in these will differ and you will need to create plans to mitigate these risks quickly and decisively .
Some of the major risks you need to consider are:
- Customer Risk – Changes in the nature and behaviour of your customer base. This could include mass cancellation of orders, payment issues and project delays, but can equally include the need to cope with a rapid ramp up in output or pivoting to a completely new product range?
- Employee Risks – The risk of infection with COVID-19 is the most obvious one to manage and minimise, but there are other risks, such as general absenteeism (many employees are feeling too stressed to go to work) and the motivation, family and mental impacts associated with working from home.
- Supply Risks – Talking to manufacturers, I am getting the impression that the impact of the interruption of supply from China has been less than expected (probably because the virus shutdown coincided with the Chinese New Year shut down anyway). However, what if your supplier can no longer stay in business? What happens if they have an infection in their business? What are your alternatives?
- Financial Risks – Cash is king in a crisis. What are the key risks to cash flow? How can you maximise cash flow and minimise outgoings to ensure that you maintain your business as a going concern as long as possible?
I could keep going. The more one thinks about this COVID-19 pandemic, the more risks you will identify. The challenge is therefore to organise and prioritise these risks so that you can focus your resources on mitigating the most serious risks. That is what a business continuity plan is all about and this plan is at the core of your business continuity management.
Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery (PPRR Framework)
The Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery or PPRR framework can be used to prepare your plan under the four main pillars.
- Prevention – Risk Management Planning – Incorporates the Prevention element that identifies and manages the likelihood and/or effects of risk associated with an incident.
- Preparedness – Business Impact Analysis – Incorporates the Preparedness element that identifies and prioritises the key activities of a business that may be adversely affected by any disruptions.
- Response – Incident Response Planning – Incorporates the Response element and outlines immediate actions taken to respond to an incident in terms of containment, control and minimising impacts.
- Recovery – Recovery Planning – Incorporates the Recovery element that outlines actions taken to recover from an incident in order to minimise disruption and recovery times.
You need to identify and analyse the potential risks to your business with a Risk Management Plan. Your Risk Management Plan will include events which will have an adverse effect on your business and pinpoint solutions for dealing with each risk you identify.
The questions you need to ask:
- What could cause an external shock?
- How serious could the impact be?
- What are the odds this could occur?
- Can we reduce or eliminate this risk?
As part of your preparedness you should complete a Business Impact Analysis (BIA). Your BIA will derive information from your Risk Management Plan to calculate the risks and impacts on your critical activities. Critical activities defined as primary business functions that must continue in order to support your company.
Ask yourself and identify:
- Your critical business activities?
- The impact to your business caused by disruption.
- How long can you survive without this core business?
- How long will it take to recover?
Your incident response plan is built to answer to critical events and reduce the impact of these on your business operations. It will also prepare key people to provide an effective response to ensure minimal disruption to operations in the event of an emergency. The type of business you are in will determine your appropriate response to incidents.
Your response plan will have evacuation procedures, your emergency kit, people’s roles and responsibilities, key contacts and an events log.
At this stage you are returning to normal business operations before the critical incident. Your core business is back online, and business operations have resumed normal operation.
The recovery plan should outline the intentions of supporting a recovery of the worst-case scenario. You can modify it according to the degree of loss to your business.
Your recovery process should include:
- Developing strategies to recover your business activities in the quickest possible time
- Identifying resources required to recover your operations
- Documenting your previously identified RTO’s
- Listing the person/s who have responsibility for each task and the expected completion date.
Rehearse, Maintain and Review
Now that you have decided on the steps to take to prevent, prepare, response and recover you can look to rehearse, maintain and review your planning to make sure it stays up to date with your current business goals and objectives.
Business Continuity Planning can be a daunting undertaking with all the different touch points to think about in your business. However, doing it well and doing it quickly could determine whether your business can survive the current COVID-19 crisis. At TXM we have developed some tools and resources to help you with business continuity management:
- Take our Business Self-Assessment Survey for a quick assessment of your current vulnerability to a sudden revenue shock.
- We are building a range of practical resources to help businesses come to grips with the COVID-19 situation and provide expert input and ideas to help you come up with a plan.
- You can have a free of charge, one-hour video consultation with one of our experienced team to discuss the challenges you are facing and how you might overcome them.
- We have adapted world’s best practice risk analysis techniques to create a risk assessment tool that enables us to quickly and effectively help you sort through the risks facing your business and come up with a Business Continuity Plan that will maximise your business’ chances of survival.