Change is inevitable and in the face of change, business continuity can mean the difference between success and failure. Below we’ll discuss the importance of a business continuity plan, how to implement one, and what to consider. 

Adaptability breeds success

In business, as in life, to adapt is to survive. We live in a world where uncertainty is certain and so, adaptability is truly critical. It seems all too clear that things can shift in an instant, and if your business is not prepared, then success may be fleeting. 

Whether faced with tragedy, changing consumer demands, financial crisis, or industry shifts, your business has to be ready to adapt and evolve at a moment’s notice. The alternative? You’ll be left behind. 

A business continuity plan for those “what ifs”

In the face of major change, a business continuity plan dictates how your organization will continue to operate. Examples of unexpected events that could disrupt operations include natural disasters, the departure of key team members, and supply chain issues. Business continuity plans outline how the business will adapt to those situations and overcome adversity. They outline how employees will continue to work in a productive manner, what technology will be used to enable their productivity, and how the business will go about restoring its affected processes and systems once the initial impact has subsided.

In short, it’s a plan that prepares your business for worst case scenarios and outlines how you will overcome, adapt, and continue operating successfully. Without a business continuity plan, the long-term success of your business in the face of adversity will be threatened. Organizational resilience means being ready to face the unknown. 

Take for instance the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. I think it’s fair to say that businesses all over the world were affected in some way by the pandemic. Those that had business continuity plans in place were able to adapt, and find a way to make work in this new environment work. They had the technology to  allow previously office-based employees to go remote and still communicate, collaborate, and work productively in that setting; they had a plan for how operations would continue remotely, and how the business could rebound once pandemic guidelines were relaxed. These plans allowed businesses to continue operating in the face of an unprecedented global disaster, and will help them succeed well into the future.

Leave nothing and no one behind

In order for your business continuity plan to be effective in the face of significant challenges, it should take all critical aspects of your business into account. Consider the following questions and use them to inform your business continuity planning process:

  • What potential changes/challenges could threaten your business? How will you respond to them?
  • How will critical systems and processes be affected? How will you go about adapting them as needed?
  • What are the necessities for your business to remain operational in the face of crisis? What can you do without?
  • Where will you and your employees work from if the office is not an option?
  • What technology solutions will enable collaboration and communication between colleagues?
  • How will you maintain performance and productivity?
  • Are employees trained on how to use workplace technology? Do they use the tools you’ve laid out for them?

Every aspect of your business’s operations needs to be scrutinized in order to create a plan that will stand up to genuine threats and challenges. By identifying your key business areas and critical functions you can ensure there’s a plan for them, and identify how departments will need to work together. 

Also, remember to include every member of your team in the decision making process – valuable insight can be gained from employees at all levels, from senior management to low level staff. Communicate with them about how to continue operating in times of turbulence, and assure them that in the worst case scenario, your management style and steady hand combined with a rock solid business continuity plan will guarantee that the organization can weather the storm. Invest in cross-department training so employees who feel that they can take on different responsibilities if needed are prepared, and identify any ongoing learning opportunities that could help them with their possible future role.

It’s also a good idea to run ideas past all departments to get their support and even feedback.  Some departments rely on direct contact with other departments, so it will be important to bake that line of communication into your plan. Requirements of different departments may differ, so it’s important to be aware of those unique needs so no one suffers. Keeping all departments in the loop will also streamline the process and keep surprises to a minimum so every one is on the same page and ready to roll with the punches. 

Test and test again

The only way to know for sure if your business continuity plan will hold up is to test it. Whether you perform a pen and paper simulation or you attempt to actually simulate the effects of a crisis through live exercises, you’ll find out quickly whether or not the plan holds water. If things fall apart, take note and adjust accordingly. When aspects of your plan fail during testing, it’s a certainty that they’ll fail in the face of a real challenge.

Integrating business continuity exercises into business process can set you up for unprecedented success in turbulent times.  Simulating disruptions, taking away essential systems, or making your team solve a problem together is great practice.  With any luck, regular testing will prepare your team for the worst and build organizational resilience.

Now is the time to get started

Equally as important as testing is being proactive. If you notice that there are holes in your plans that need to be addressed, start today – you might not have tomorrow. Most importantly, ensure that the proper cloud technologies are in place to allow your teams to instantly communicate and collaborate from anywhere.

Make sure that your data is secure and reliably backed up, preferably with an archive available for easy retention and eDiscovery. Focus on training your employees and giving them the confidence they’ll need to thrive under the pressures that come from major change. If you anticipate having to work remotely, productivity intelligence will provide insight into how your team is working, present opportunities for coaching, and keep teams aligned. 

The key takeaway 

Prepare your business for anything. Lead by example and never get too relaxed. With luck, your business will be able to weather any storm thanks to your careful planning, expert leadership, and adequate training and workplace technology.

Nadine (Malek) Sarraf is the CMO of Prodoscore | Nadine joined Prodoscore, a productivity intelligence provider that creates visibility into daily engagement and productivity, as a marketing expert. She spearheads all corporate communications, branding, content, and digital efforts. With over a decade of SaaS-marketing experience, Nadine provides a wealth of knowledge in various verticals including video surveillance, banking, and healthcare communications.

Business continuity stock photo by garagestock/Shutterstock