Coronavirus had already caused an 11.5% economic slump in the UK by early 2020 – businesses have closed offices and switched to remote work, but many have had to reduce their short-term staffing numbers. In this article we will look at business continuity planning, what is it and the key steps to follow.
A recent Capterra study found that over a third of companies (39%) didn’t have a business continuity plan in place before the COVID-19 crisis.
As a result, 51% of SMEs have had to make an investment in software in response to the pandemic.
Gartner sees the response to the COVID-19 pandemic businesses into three main stages:
As businesses push beyond the recover phase, the third one, renew, becomes the core focus. With so many businesses lacking the resources to cover their usual needs, their strategic response to reorganisation will decide which will rise and which will fall.
Renew: A closer look
The renew phase is divided into two parts:
- Executing a durable recovery strategy across your business
- Using the lessons of your response and recover phases to build a new foundation for business continuity. This phase requires a reset to create a new form of resilience.
A crucial part of this process is looking back at what has been lost. Ascertain which strategies and tools have been working over the crisis-these are the foundations of the new business continuity planning.
A successful business continuity plan is one of the most important strategic plans for a company, so a dedicated team is a necessity, and existing employees can be your best advisors. You may need to build location independence into your model, rescale your employee complement, or undergo R&D to start a product line that’s more suited to pandemic life. Maybe your operating model needs to shift online.
Any of those moves can cause bleeding, so rescaling will be a part of most plans. A nimbler scale will prepare you for another unexpected crisis.
How to Create a Renew Strategy
Businesses are building new models by, for example, launching delivery services, online events, and mobile services.
No continuity plan is alike, but all must keep your brand in the spotlight.
Business continuity planning should take into consideration these five steps for better planning:
- Look back and assess in order to move forward (to see what has failed in the past and plan for a better one)
- Identify the critical parts of the business that need to be included in the plan
- Create a dedicated team (probably the heads of the departments involved in the plan)
- Be flexible: make sure the plan can be adjusted depending on the situation. Is advisable to revisit it once or twice a year.
- Communicate: make sure all employees are involved and are aware of the plan by providing training when needed (for example IT security e.g phishing)
Risk finding and contingency
You can’t triage your business continuity plan until you’ve assessed your risk profile. This should include hazards that touch on your logistics, human resources, COVID-19 transmission risks, and regulatory framework.
Your buildings and stock may also be exposed to risk, whether through cancelled product lines, imports, or transport. Supplier risks are built out of lost supply routes, supply disruptions, and new societal intolerance.
Sometimes, your competitors might be your best collaborators, so consider forming partnerships that can increase your equipment scope and limit your stock loss.
The fuel of every continuity plan is an opportunity. The more you can find in today’s challenging environment, the more resilient you’ll become.
Focusing on Software
Before the pandemic, the business world had already shifted into a more globalised landscape linked by the cloud, remote workers, and the web. It’s unsurprising, then, that software has become the hero of the post-COVID world.
Digital transformation is becoming a reality for every business, and it will fuel growth for you no matter how the world changes after the coronavirus threat has evaporated.
Added digital revenue streams can dig your business out of the ashes and send it into a brave new world of profitability, but to leverage it, you’ll need solid digital infrastructure and a recovery strategy.
That might require a new service provider. Your vendors should provide:
- Data security
- Strong backup policies and software
- Protection against digital threats
- Dedicated 24/7 support and security services
- A strong history without frequent breaches
In addition, you’ll need to extract as many returns as possible from your software. Your digital tools are, after all, replacing your entire office and retail infrastructure, so you’ll have to create a comprehensive software alternative for everything from your meetings and collaborations to your retail space and time tracking systems.
Britain’s most adaptive businesses are driving a massive digital migration, with half of SMEs investing in software to improve future continuity. The software has never been more important than it is today.
A business continuity plan can focus these efforts and help you to find new life in an uncertain landscape.