The Importance of Having a Business Continuity Plan
What is a business continuity plan and why do you need one?
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Creating a business continuity plan.
- Undertaking a business impact analysis to identify functions and related resources that are time-sensitive
- Identifying and implementing steps to recover critical business functions
- Creating a continuity team that will be tasked with devising a plan to manage the disruption
- Training and testing the continuity team, and ensuring they regularly go over the plan and strategies to mitigate risk and ensure they are kept up-to-date
The importance of technology to business continuity for legal operations
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Business Continuity Plan
Business Continuity Planning Process Diagram - Text Version
When business is disrupted, it can cost money. Lost revenues plus extra expenses means reduced profits. Insurance does not cover all costs and cannot replace customers that defect to the competition. A business continuity plan to continue business is essential. Development of a business continuity plan includes four steps:
- Conduct a business impact analysis to identify time-sensitive or critical business functions and processes and the resources that support them.
- Identify, document, and implement to recover critical business functions and processes.
- Organize a business continuity team and compile a business continuity plan to manage a business disruption.
- Conduct training for the business continuity team and testing and exercises to evaluate recovery strategies and the plan.
Information technology (IT) includes many components such as networks, servers, desktop and laptop computers and wireless devices. The ability to run both office productivity and enterprise software is critical. Therefore, recovery strategies for information technology should be developed so technology can be restored in time to meet the needs of the business. Manual workarounds should be part of the IT plan so business can continue while computer systems are being restored.
Resources for Business Continuity Planning
- Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs - National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1600
- Professional Practices for Business Continuity Professionals - DRI International (non-profit business continuity education and certification body)
- Continuity Guidance Circular - Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Open for Business® Toolkit - Institute for Business & Home Safety
Business Continuity Impact Analysis
Business continuity impact analysis identifies the effects resulting from disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.
The Operational & Financial Impacts worksheet can be used to capture this information as discussed in Business Impact Analysis . The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers with sufficient knowledge of the business. Once all worksheets are completed, the worksheets can be tabulated to summarize:
- the operational and financial impacts resulting from the loss of individual business functions and process
- the point in time when loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts
Those functions or processes with the highest potential operational and financial impacts become priorities for restoration. The point in time when a function or process must be recovered, before unacceptable consequences could occur, is often referred to as the “Recovery Time Objective.”
Resource Required to Support Recovery Strategies
Recovery of a critical or time-sensitive process requires resources. The Business Continuity Resource Requirements worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers. Completed worksheets are used to determine the resource requirements for recovery strategies.
Following an incident that disrupts business operations, resources will be needed to carry out recovery strategies and to restore normal business operations. Resources can come from within the business or be provided by third parties. Resources include:
- Office space, furniture and equipment
- Technology (computers, peripherals, communication equipment, software and data)
- Vital records (electronic and hard copy)
- Production facilities, machinery and equipment
- Inventory including raw materials, finished goods and goods in production.
- Utilities (power, natural gas, water, sewer, telephone, internet, wireless)
- Third party services
Since all resources cannot be replaced immediately following a loss, managers should estimate the resources that will be needed in the hours, days and weeks following an incident.
Conducting the Business Continuity Impact Analysis
The worksheets Operational and Financial Impacts and Business Continuity Resource Requirements should be distributed to business process managers along with instructions about the process and how the information will be used. After all managers have completed their worksheets, information should be reviewed. Gaps or inconsistencies should be identified. Meetings with individual managers should be held to clarify information and obtain missing information.
After all worksheets have been completed and validated, the priorities for restoration of business processes should be identified. Primary and dependent resource requirements should also be identified. This information will be used to develop recovery strategies.
If a facility is damaged, production machinery breaks down, a supplier fails to deliver or information technology is disrupted, business is impacted and the financial losses can begin to grow. Recovery strategies are alternate means to restore business operations to a minimum acceptable level following a business disruption and are prioritized by the recovery time objectives (RTO) developed during the business impact analysis .
Recovery strategies require resources including people, facilities, equipment, materials and information technology. An analysis of the resources required to execute recovery strategies should be conducted to identify gaps. For example, if a machine fails but other machines are readily available to make up lost production, then there is no resource gap. However, if all machines are lost due to a flood, and insufficient undamaged inventory is available to meet customer demand until production is restored, production might be made up by machines at another facility—whether owned or contracted.
Strategies may involve contracting with third parties, entering into partnership or reciprocal agreements or displacing other activities within the company. Staff with in-depth knowledge of business functions and processes are in the best position to determine what will work. Possible alternatives should be explored and presented to management for approval and to decide how much to spend.
Depending upon the size of the company and resources available, there may be many recovery strategies that can be explored.
Utilization of other owned or controlled facilities performing similar work is one option. Operations may be relocated to an alternate site - assuming both are not impacted by the same incident. This strategy also assumes that the surviving site has the resources and capacity to assume the work of the impacted site. Prioritization of production or service levels, providing additional staff and resources and other action would be needed if capacity at the second site is inadequate.
Telecommuting is a strategy employed when staff can work from home through remote connectivity. It can be used in combination with other strategies to reduce alternate site requirements. This strategy requires ensuring telecommuters have a suitable home work environment and are equipped with or have access to a computer with required applications and data, peripherals, and a secure broadband connection.
In an emergency, space at another facility can be put to use. Cafeterias, conference rooms and training rooms can be converted to office space or to other uses when needed. Equipping converted space with furnishings, equipment, power, connectivity and other resources would be required to meet the needs of workers.
Partnership or reciprocal agreements can be arranged with other businesses or organizations that can support each other in the event of a disaster. Assuming space is available, issues such as the capacity and connectivity of telecommunications and information technology, protection of privacy and intellectual property, the impacts to each other’s operation and allocating expenses must be addressed. Agreements should be negotiated in writing and documented in the business continuity plan. Periodic review of the agreement is needed to determine if there is a change in the ability of each party to support the other.
There are many vendors that support business continuity and information technology recovery strategies. External suppliers can provide a full business environment including office space and live data centers ready to be occupied. Other options include provision of technology equipped office trailers, replacement machinery and other equipment. The availability and cost of these options can be affected when a regional disaster results in competition for these resources.
There are multiple strategies for recovery of manufacturing operations. Many of these strategies include use of existing owned or leased facilities. Manufacturing strategies include:
- Shifting production from one facility to another
- Increasing manufacturing output at operational facilities
- Retooling production from one item to another
- Prioritization of production—by profit margin or customer relationship
- Maintaining higher raw materials or finished goods inventory
- Reallocating existing inventory, repurchase or buyback of inventory
- Limiting orders (e.g., maximum order size or unit quantity)
- Contracting with third parties
- Purchasing business interruption insurance
There are many factors to consider in manufacturing recovery strategies:
- Will a facility be available when needed?
- How much time will it take to shift production from one product to another?
- How much will it cost to shift production from one product to another?
- How much revenue would be lost when displacing other production?
- How much extra time will it take to receive raw materials or ship finished goods to customers? Will the extra time impact customer relationships?
- Are there any regulations that would restrict shifting production?
- What quality issues could arise if production is shifted or outsourced?
- Are there any long-term consequences associated with a strategy?
Resources for Developing Recovery Strategies
- The Telework Coalition (America’s leading nonprofit telework education and advocacy organization)
Telephones are ringing and customer service staff is busy talking with customers and keying orders into the computer system. The electronic order entry system checks available inventory, processes payments and routes orders to the distribution center for fulfillment. Suddenly the order entry system goes down. What should the customer service staff do now? If the staff is equipped with paper order forms, order processing can continue until the electronic system comes back up and no phone orders will be lost.
The order forms and procedures for using them are examples of “manual workarounds.” These workarounds are recovery strategies for use when information technology resources are not available.
Developing Manual Workarounds
Identify the steps in the automated process - creating a diagram of the process can help. Consider the following aspects of information and work flow:
Internal Interfaces (department, person, activity and resource requirements)
- External Interfaces (company, contact person, activity and resource requirements)
- Tasks (in sequential order)
- Manual intervention points
Create data collection forms to capture information and define processes for manual handling of the information collected. Establish control logs to document transactions and track their progress through the manual system.
Manual workarounds require manual labor, so you may need to reassign staff or bring in temporary assistance.
Last Updated: 05/26/2021
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11 critical aspects of an effective business continuity strategy.
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All businesses are prone to disruption, which can range from minor to significant and be expected or unforeseen. No matter its industry or size, every company should have a solid business continuity plan in place to ensure that it can remain operational in the event of any disaster, disruption or threat.
While most large corporations have official business continuity plans, many small businesses don’t. If your organization lacks a continuity plan, the time to develop one is now. Here, 11 members of Forbes Coaches Council share some specific, often-overlooked aspects of an effective business continuity strategy that small to midsize businesses should consider incorporating into their own plans.
Members of Forbes Coaches Council discuss critical aspects of an effective business continuity strategy
1. Testing And Validation
Many companies fail to test their plans. A plan may look good on paper, but it must be validated and tested to make sure it will work. I often see this step overlooked when organizations back up their technology. What will happen if the backup is bad? How do you know it works without testing? I have seen this misstep cost smaller companies thousands of dollars in lost information and recovery efforts. You must ask the question, “How do you know?” - Michael Mirau , ProActive Leadership Group
2. A Communications Plan
When it comes to business continuity plans, most businesses forget to create a communications plan. A communications plan should inform your employees about the process changes and priorities, expectations, purpose, and how you’ll protect your employees during a disruption. More importantly, it should address their concerns and be transparent, empathetic, appreciative and consistently conveyed. - Arathi Ramappa , Arathi Concepts LLC
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3. A Focus On Cash Flow
Business continuity has to center around cash flow. Cash flow and cash flow projections are often overlooked in small businesses. In order to properly plan, you have to know where the money is and where it is going. This will allow you to properly produce a continuity plan that will continue to move you forward. - Jon Dwoskin , The Jon Dwoskin Experience
4. A Desk Plan Policy
Succession planning should be a part of each role in an organization, at all levels. Implement a desk plan policy, which is a document that covers the information needed to perform each role. It should describe key operations; decisions to be made on a daily, weekly or monthly basis; key contacts; processes; reporting tools and mechanisms; and the location of information that might be necessary for an emergency. - Natalie McVeigh , EisnerAmper
5. Internal Leadership Development
Small businesses are often launched with a sole proprietor, so an often-overlooked aspect of planning is internal leadership development. In addressing this aspect you create a pool of potential successors in the case of needed changes for any reason that may come up. - Brent McHugh , Christar International
6. A Healthy, Ingrained Culture
A healthy and ingrained culture is a key component of sustaining a business through economic hills and valleys. It clarifies the mission and the boundaries for decision making, establishes the norms for team member behavior and interactions, and supports retention and attraction of key resources. It is never too soon to integrate measurement, monitoring and maintenance of culture. - Angela Morrill , Angela Morrill Leadership & Life Coaching
7. Knowledge Of Both Internal And External Risk Factors
Whether your organization is big or small, you should always have a risk strategy. To develop it, you should know not only your internal weaknesses and risks but also the external risks and obstacles. A small company has the advantage of agility and can adapt faster and more effectively to counter external influences. On the other hand, large companies are tankers, and they need more time for changes and a business continuity plan for crises. - Michael Thiemann , Strategy-Lab™
8. A ‘Run Book’
Create a “Run Book,” which is a document (both on paper and online) in which all of the basic company information, including account names, numbers, passwords and so on are stored. It should also include contact information for clients and vendors, and it should be updated regularly and be accessible to key players in the organization “in case” something happens to one or more of them. - Gregg Ward , The Center for Respectful Leadership
9. Tech Backups
Many small to midsize businesses have adopted technology in their processes. However, they overlook planning for when that technology is disrupted. It’s essential to have backups, both literal and figurative. It’s also vital to continuously own and have access to your data apart from any processing provider. Then, when there is a disruption, you have what you need to restore essential business data. - Kathi Laughman , The Mackenzie Circle LLC
10. A Clear Succession Plan
The most critical, but often overlooked, aspect to incorporate in a business continuity strategy is a leadership succession plan. Small and midsize organizations are not immune to the “Great Resignation”; without a leadership succession plan in place, attrition at the leadership level leaves these companies very vulnerable. - Caroline Vernon , Intoo, USA
11. Process Documentation
One important aspect to incorporate in a continuity plan is documentation of processes, procedures and the ways your company does what it does. When you create a living document of each process and procedure, if the loss of a member of staff or management occurs, there is a way to continue in the breach until a suitable replacement is found and gets up to speed in the position. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time. - Kim Neeson , Kim Neeson Consultancy
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Why You Need a Reliable Business Continuity Plan
You’ve likely heard that nearly half of all new businesses fail . According to the Small Business Association (SBA), 50 percent of businesses fail during the first five years. Over a 10-year span, the percentage increases to 66. But what can be done to avoid this? A business continuity plan. While it’s difficult to determine the percentage of businesses that have a continuity plan in place, one thing is certain: it’s better to have one than not.
A business continuity plan is a process by which businesses can prepare themselves to weather the potential threats that are always on the horizon, keeping their project plans, schedules and processes intact. Before we dive into what is a business continuity plan and how to write one, let’s quickly define business continuity planning.
What Is Business Continuity Planning?
Business continuity planning (BCP) is the process by which companies can overcome potential threats that can affect their ability to continue. Business continuity planning consists in creating recovery strategies, improving business processes and defining a recovery time objective.
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What Is a Business Continuity Plan?
A business continuity plan (BCP) is a plan to assist a business when and if there’s an emergency or potential threat to its solvency. These can be any number of risks including natural disasters such as fires and earthquakes to man-made risks such as cyberattacks. All of these are outside of normal business operating conditions.
In other words, business continuity is exactly as it sounds: maintaining business functions or responding quickly to resuming them if there’s a major disruption to that business. A business continuity plan is not the same as a business plan, which contains the executive summary , company info, market research and strategies, etc.
Why Do I Need a Business Continuity Plan?
The importance of a business continuity plan should be clear, but some business owners might be overworked by simply running operations and ensuring solvency. The problem with such thinking is that it’s reactive. You’re never in a position to profit from good business and grow your company as you’re always chasing fires and putting them out.
Remaining competitive is key for business success, and to lose operational capacity due to an act of nature removes you from the marketplace either temporarily or forever. It’s not a risk that can be ignored, which is why there’s a strong need to create a plan of action.
Key Elements of a Business Continuity Plan
A business continuity plan varies from one company to another as they’re tailored to the needs of a particular business. However, there are basic elements that should always be included. Here are the five most commonly used elements of a business continuity plan.
Critical Business Areas & Processes
The first step in business continuity planning (BCP) is to analyze your business operations and identify the business units, business areas and business processes that are important to your company. You’ll need to identify which of those require improvements and which can be cut from your continuity plan.
Once you’ve identified the business areas and processes that’ll be part of your BCP, you’ll need to look for all of the business data you can find. Data analysis is the only way to accurately understand what aspects of your business are successful and which aren’t.
Risk assessment is a critical element of a business continuity plan. To help your business continue to grow, you need to identify every potential risk that could stop you. It’s suggested that you use a risk register to list the potential risks along with risk mitigation strategies to implement if needed.
Business Continuity Impact Analysis
A business continuity impact analysis is done to determine the consequences of a sudden loss of business operations, units or processes. By conducting a business continuity impact analysis, you can determine the business impact in terms of costs, time frames and affected dependencies.
Recovery Time Objective
A business continuity plan is meant to be an actionable document that helps companies overcome difficulties and natural disasters. The recovery time objective is an estimated point in time by which you believe your business continuity planning strategies will take effect.
How to Create a Reliable Business Continuity Plan in 7 Steps
When working on a business continuity plan, there are several steps that must be taken to ensure that it’s reliable, all of which are outlined below.
1. Analyze Organizational Threats
You can’t prepare for what you don’t know. There will always be aspects of potential risks that are beyond your control so it’s important to do the due diligence. Make a comprehensive list of what threats are the most likely to impact your business. Then, dig deeper into each threat to see how it would impact your operations.
By analyzing your organizational threats, you’ll have an idea of what you need to do in order to respond. Consider using a risk register template to keep track of each risk.
2. List Primary Tasks to Stay Operational
Once you know what might happen, you have to devise a strategy to respond so the business can keep its doors open. That means prioritizing your list to include only top-level items that address the livelihood of the business.
Other points on your list are important, of course, but you can’t do everything, especially in an emergency. Pick what must be done and complete the rest once the dust has settled.
3. Safeguard Contacts
What if your facility is damaged or what if your IT is compromised? What if you lose contact information for executives and managers who are crucial to the smooth operation of the business? This is why it’s important to keep a list of management and their contacts in a safe or in multiple places so they’re easily accessible.
In case of an emergency, you need to reach the important stakeholders in your organization immediately. There’s no time to search for this information; it needs to always be at your fingertips.
4. Direct Personnel
Depending on the situation, there might not be anyone in a position of authority to explain what personnel should do and where they should go. This is a recipe for chaos, which only adds another problem on top of an already problematic situation.
That’s why it’s important to have a plan for where personnel needs to be if and when a disaster happens. You want to keep them out of harm’s way and place them in a position to carry on with operations if that’s a possibility.
5. Backup Data
Although this is second nature for many, it still bears repeating. Information is one of the most important assets for many businesses, and it must be protected from a potential breach or compromise of IT.
That data must be backed up in more than one place and there should be backups both on-site and off-site in case there is a localized catastrophic event. Online project management software offers you cloud storage for your data, creating an additional safeguard.
6. Collaborate Across the Organization
Businesses are collections of many different departments and the coordination of these elements is critical in getting operations up and running or running as normal. This is why a collaboration plan that includes all facets of the business must be in place to ensure these different departments are working together, not against one another.
7. Get Buy-In on Your BCP
For any business continuity plan to work, it must be distributed to everyone in the business so they understand their part in the process is. But even more than that, every person, from the top to the bottom of the business, must buy into the plan.
Anyone who doesn’t buy into your business continuity plan is a weak link that will break the chain you created to protect the business during this challenging period.
Creating a business continuity plan is like creating any plan. You need to have the tools to plan one, share it and then track it to make sure it’s progressing as planned. That requires robust project management software with the scheduling features you need to facilitate the process. ProjectManager is a cloud-based project management tool that lets you manage and control even major changes to keep your business operational. See how it can help your business by taking this free 30-day trial.
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What is business continuity and why is it important?
- Erin Sullivan, Site Editor
- Paul Crocetti, Senior Site Editor
Business continuity is an organization's ability to maintain essential functions during and after a disaster has occurred. Business continuity planning establishes risk management processes and procedures that aim to prevent interruptions to mission-critical services , and reestablish full function to the organization as quickly and smoothly as possible.
The most basic business continuity requirement is to keep essential functions up and running during a disaster and to recover with as little downtime as possible. A business continuity plan considers various unpredictable events, such as natural disasters, fires, disease outbreaks, cyberattacks and other external threats.
Business continuity is important for organizations of any size, but it might not be practical for any but the largest enterprises to maintain all functions for the duration of a disaster. According to many experts, the first step in business continuity planning is deciding what functions are essential and allocating the available budget accordingly. Once crucial components have been identified, administrators can put failover mechanisms in place.
Technologies such as disk mirroring enable an organization to maintain up-to-date copies of data in geographically dispersed locations, not just in the primary data center. This enables data access to continue uninterrupted if one location is disabled and protects against data loss.
This article is part of
What is BCDR? Business continuity and disaster recovery guide
- Which also includes:
- Business resilience vs. business continuity: Key differences
- A free business continuity plan template and guide
- Preparing an annual schedule of business continuity activities
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Why is business continuity important?
At a time when downtime is unacceptable, business continuity is critical. Downtime comes from a variety of sources. Some threats, such as cyberattacks and extreme weather, seem to be getting worse. It's important to have a business continuity plan in place that considers any potential disruptions to operations.
The plan should enable the organization to keep running at least at a minimal level during a crisis. Business continuity helps the organization maintain resiliency , in responding quickly to an interruption. Strong business continuity saves money, time and company reputation. An extended outage risks financial, personal and reputational loss.
Business continuity requires an organization to take a look at itself, analyze potential areas of weakness and gather key information -- such as contact lists and technical diagrams of systems -- that can be useful outside of disaster situations. In undertaking the business continuity planning process, an organization can improve its communication, technology and resilience.
Business continuity might even be a requirement for legal or compliance reasons. Especially in an era of increased regulation , it's important to understand which regulations affect a given organization.
What does business continuity include?
Business continuity is a proactive way to ensure mission-critical operations proceed during a disruption. A comprehensive plan includes contact information, steps for what to do when faced with a variety of incidents and a guide for when to use the document.
Business continuity features clear guidelines for what an organization must do to maintain operations. If the time comes for response, there should be no question about how to move forward with business processes. The company, customers and employees are all potentially at stake.
Proper business continuity includes different levels of response. Not everything is mission-critical, so it's important to lay out what is most vital to keep running, and what could stand to come back online at later times. It's crucial to be honest about recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives .
The process includes the whole organization, from executive management on down. Although IT might drive the business continuity, it's essential to get buy-in from management and communicate key information to the entire organization. One other important area of collaboration is with the security team -- although the two groups often work separately, an organization can gain a lot by sharing information across these departments. At the very least, everyone should know the basic steps for how the organization plans to respond.
Three key components of a business continuity plan
A business continuity plan has three key elements: Resilience, recovery and contingency.
An organization can increase resilience by designing critical functions and infrastructures with various disaster possibilities in mind; this can include staffing rotations, data redundancy and maintaining a surplus of capacity. Ensuring resiliency against different scenarios can also help organizations maintain essential services on location and off site without interruption.
Rapid recovery to restore business functions after a disaster is crucial. Setting recovery time objectives for different systems, networks or applications can help prioritize which elements must be recovered first. Other recovery strategies include resource inventories, agreements with third parties to take on company activity and using converted spaces for mission-critical functions.
A contingency plan has procedures in place for a variety of external scenarios and can include a chain of command that distributes responsibilities within the organization. These responsibilities can include hardware replacement, leasing emergency office spaces, damage assessment and contracting third-party vendors for assistance.
Business continuity standards
Table 1 lists the standards in the ISO 223XX Series that apply to business continuity and related activities. The ISO 22398 and 22399 standards are also worth a look.
Table 2 lists the Business Continuity Institute's Good Practice Guidelines. The guidelines provide a comprehensive foundation for understanding the business continuity process, and they map closely to the ISO 22301 standard.
Table 3 provides a partial listing of standards, regulations and good practices developed in the U.S. by several different organizations such as ASIS International, the National Fire Protection Association, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Institute for Standards and Technology.
Business continuity vs. disaster recovery
Like a business continuity plan, disaster recovery planning specifies an organization's planned strategies for post-failure procedures. However, a disaster recovery plan is just a subset of business continuity planning.
Disaster recovery plans are mainly data focused, concentrating on storing data in a way that can be more easily accessed following a disaster. Business continuity takes this into account, but also focuses on the risk management, oversight and planning an organization needs to stay operational during a disruption.
Business continuity development
Business continuity starts with initiating the planning project. Business impact analysis (BIA) and risk assessment are essential steps in gathering information for the plan.
Conducting a BIA can reveal any possible weaknesses, as well as the consequences of a disaster on various departments. The BIA report informs an organization of the most crucial functions and systems to prioritize in a business continuity plan.
A risk assessment identifies potential hazards to an organization, such as natural disasters, cyberattacks or technology failures. Risks can affect staff, customers, building operations and company reputation. The assessment also details what or who a risk could harm, and the likeliness of the risks.
The BIA and risk assessment work hand in hand. The BIA provides details on potential effects to the possible disruptions outlined in the risk assessment.
Business continuity management
It's important to designate who will manage business continuity. It could be one person, if it's a small business, or it could be a whole team for a larger organization. Business continuity management software is also an option. Software -- either on premises or cloud-based -- helps conduct BIAs, create and update plans and pinpoint areas of risk.
Business continuity is an evolving process. As such, an organization's business continuity plan shouldn't just sit on a shelf. The organization should communicate its contents to as many people as possible. Implementation of business continuity isn't just for times of crisis; the organization should have training exercises, so employees know what they'll be doing in the event of an actual disruption.
Business continuity testing is critical to its success. It's difficult to know if a plan is going to work if it hasn't been tested. A business continuity test can be as simple as a tabletop exercise , where staff discuss what will happen in an emergency. More rigorous testing includes a full emergency simulation. An organization can plan the test in advance or perform it without notice to better mimic a crisis.
Once the organization completes a test, it should review how it went and update the plan accordingly. It's likely that some parts of the plan will go well but other actions might need adjusting. A regular schedule for testing is helpful, especially if the business changes its operations and staff frequently. Comprehensive business continuity undergoes continual testing, review and updating .
Business Continuity Institute
The Business Continuity Institute (BCI) is a global professional organization that provides education, research, professional accreditation, certification, networking opportunities, leadership and guidance on business continuity and organizational resilience .
The BCI, which is based in the United Kingdom, was established in 1994 and features about 8,000 members in more than 100 countries, in the public and private sectors. Business continuity professionals and those interested in the field can use the products and services available from the BCI.
The BCI's objectives and work includes raising standards in business continuity, sharing business continuity best practices, training and certifying BC professionals , raising the value of the BC profession and developing the business case for business continuity.
The institute's many published resources include its Good Practice Guidelines, which offers guidance for identifying business continuity activities that can support strategic planning.
Professional membership in the BCI conveys an internationally recognized status -- certification demonstrates a member's proficiency in business continuity management.
BCI Chapters have been established in countries or regions where there is a large community of members. The Chapters, which include the United States, Japan and India, have locally elected officers who represent the BCI in their region.
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May 20 A Business Continuity Plan Checklist for Banks, for COVID-19 and Beyond
Michael canale, john delponti and joseph sergienko, find out how financial institutions can maintain cash-flows, identify new digital opportunities and adapt their workforces to prepare for a protracted downturn.
With a second wave of COVID-19 infections possible and uncertainty surrounding the timeline for development of a vaccine, business leaders must settle in for what has become a new normal. For banks and other financial institutions, that means creating or reviewing a business continuity plan checklist.
These institutions can offer sorely needed lifelines to help the economy stay afloat during the challenging times to come. But to do so effectively—and without going under themselves, as some experts anticipate will be the case—banking executives must adapt to new cash-flow and credit risks, embrace digital opportunities and shift effectively to sustainable remote-working environments.
Cash is king
Converging forces have ratcheted up the pressure on banks’ cash positions. Costs, associated partly with the transition to remote work (e.g., buying hardware for employees working at home) have increased. The Fed’s interest rate cuts have led (at least temporarily) to thinner margins. Yet customers are simultaneously demanding more credit: Commercial lending volumes are already more than twice what they would be in a typical year.
Providing that credit while managing dwindling cash-flow isn’t easy. As banking executives settle into this new environment, they should:
Watch their liquidity position closely
This includes constant assessments around the pledgeability and/or rehypothecation of collateral, the value of loans and securities as pledgeable collateral, the ability to post to central banks and fluctuations in intraday liquidity (which may incur significant swings amid a crisis).
Revise budgets and priorities to cut costs
Some things may never return to the way they were before COVID-19. This is true of office space and even retail banking, which may remain primarily online once the crisis passes.
Budgets should be amended accordingly: Can you pull back on certain leases? Cut back on travel? As priorities shift, where might you reallocate funds? For instance, some banks didn’t have enough traders in place to handle the rush once volatility went through the roof—what can you do to stem such disruptions in the future?
Reassess scenario analyses and credit assumptions
Credit quality is deteriorating fast, particularly in brick-and-mortar industries and badly hit regions. In such volatile markets, price discovery can be a challenge, limiting the effectiveness of hedging relationships.
Executives should plan for severe and extended shock scenarios that consider unemployment of over 10 percent to 20 percent, GDP losses of up to 40 percent and even negative interest rates . They should also review their price discovery policies and procedures. That is: Do you have standard approaches for when the bank has a limited view into price discovery? Who is empowered to execute on this plan? How can it be done with consistency?
A tipping point for digital—and other opportunities
Digital banking practices were well on their way before COVID-19 forced us all indoors. The shift to digital has now been greatly accelerated. The necessity for digitalization and automation is playing out on the front lines. Banks are struggling with the volume of Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program loan volumes, servicers are dealing with millions of forbearance requests, call center wait times are increasing, contactless payments are becoming the preferred method to avoid potential virus exposure and banking is increasingly moving to mobile apps and online.
Executives need to think through the entire scope of their existing remote-banking capabilities, from how to onboard customers in a manner that is more at arms’ length (while still meeting KYC / BSA and other due diligence expectations), to loan origination and customer engagement, to e-mortgages and mobile banking apps. On the technology side, fintechs and other third-party vendors are well positioned to help; yet as fintechs may still be behind when it comes to compliance, those who work with them should engage external counsel to navigate the nuances of regulations.
Other opportunities may arise from the coming return to regionalization of supply chains and the increasingly local nature of customers’ banking needs. This raises profitability questions, whether it involves losing cheap offshore labor or additional fees for services in far-reaching locales. But it also foretells new lending programs, particularly for new and existing small, local businesses—businesses that will need a new engine for growth as they look to emerge from the downturn.
Some banking executives are simply trying to figure out “ [h]ow to get employees up elevators .”
This is emblematic of a range of issues posed by the new working environment. As more states give the signal to reopen, these decisions will fall largely to the private sector. If you want to send people back to work, you’ll have to take ownership over PPE, testing and cleaning (and, yes, elevator safety).
As executives prepare for these eventualities, they should consider the following:
Transitioning to sustainable, remote-working environments
Reduced travel, expanded use of virtual meeting tools and enhancement of remote-work systems
Flexible hours for working parents who homeschool
Bring-your-own-device policy enhancements, to include devices outside of smartphones and tablets
Increased cybersecurity measures for remote workers
Going paperless (expedite transition from paper to digital, scan all mail, leverage intelligent document scanners and capture software)
Developing procedures for third-party vendors/consultants, including virtual meetings, supplier drop-offs, mail and secure file-transfer methodologies
Evolving the way offices are used and maintained
Stage who comes into the office and when
Coordinate cleaning and disinfection schedules with office usage
Transition to hoteling model to reduce cost of office space
Take employees’ temperatures and provide in-office testing
Provide access to N95 masks and gloves
Revising disaster recovery and business continuity plans
Develop incident management and scenario plans specific to COVID-19—it may return in the winter, and pandemic threats will continue— and specific to each group in the organization
Expand beyond IT/infrastructure to include all aspects of a bank’s operations and impact on customers
Develop relocation plans for the hardest-hit areas
The transformations ushered in by COVID-19 will be with us for some time; even when they pass, it will not be business as usual. The banks that thrive during and immediately after the downturn will be those that didn’t wait to adapt to these changes but instead took swift and strategic actions in preparation for a new normal.
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How to create an effective business continuity plan
A business continuity plan outlines procedures and instructions an organization must follow in the face of disaster, whether fire, flood or cyberattack. Here's how to create one that gives your business the best chance of surviving such an event.
We rarely get advance notice that a disaster is ready to strike. Even with some lead time, though, multiple things can go wrong; every incident is unique and unfolds in unexpected ways.
This is where a business continuity plan comes into play. To give your organization the best shot at success during a disaster, you need to put a current, tested plan in the hands of all personnel responsible for carrying out any part of that plan. The lack of a plan doesn’t just mean your organization will take longer than necessary to recover from an event or incident. You could go out of business for good.
What is business continuity?
Business continuity refers to maintaining business functions or quickly resuming them in the event of a major disruption, whether caused by a fire, flood or malicious attack by cybercriminals. A business continuity plan outlines procedures and instructions an organization must follow in the face of such disasters; it covers business processes, assets, human resources, business partners and more.
Many people think a disaster recovery plan is the same as a business continuity plan, but a disaster recovery plan focuses mainly on restoring an IT infrastructure and operations after a crisis. It’s actually just one part of a complete business continuity plan, as a business continuity plan looks at the continuity of the entire organization.
Do you have a way to get HR, manufacturing and sales and support functionally up and running so the company can continue to make money right after a disaster? For example, if the building that houses your customer service representatives is flattened by a tornado, do you know how those reps can handle customer calls? Will they work from home temporarily, or from an alternate location? The BC plan addresses these types of concerns.
Note that a business impact analysis is another part of a business continuity plan. A business impact analysis identifies the impact of a sudden loss of business functions, usually quantified in a cost. Such analysis also helps you evaluate whether you should outsource non-core activities in your business continuity plan, which can come with its own risks. The business impact analysis essentially helps you look at your entire organization’s processes and determine which are most important.
Why business continuity planning matters
Whether you operate a small business or a large corporation, you strive to remain competitive. It’s vital to retain current customers while increasing your customer base — and there’s no better test of your capability to do so than right after an adverse event.
Because restoring IT is critical for most companies, numerous disaster recovery solutions are available. You can rely on IT to implement those solutions. But what about the rest of your business functions? Your company’s future depends on your people and processes. Being able to handle any incident effectively can have a positive effect on your company’s reputation and market value, and it can increase customer confidence.
“There’s an increase in consumer and regulatory expectations for security today,” says Lorraine O’Donnell, global head of business continuity at Experian. “Organizations must understand the processes within the business and the impact of the loss of these processes over time. These losses can be financial, legal, reputational and regulatory. The risk of having an organization’s “license to operate” withdrawn by a regulator or having conditions applied (retrospectively or prospectively) can adversely affect market value and consumer confidence. Build your recovery strategy around the allowable downtime for these processes.”
Anatomy of a business continuity plan
If your organization doesn’t have a business continuity plan in place, start by assessing your business processes, determining which areas are vulnerable, and the potential losses if those processes go down for a day, a few days or a week. This is essentially a business impact analysis.
Next, develop a plan. This involves six general steps:
- Identify the scope of the plan.
- Identify key business areas.
- Identify critical functions.
- Identify dependencies between various business areas and functions.
- Determine acceptable downtime for each critical function.
- Create a plan to maintain operations.
One common business continuity planning tool is a checklist that includes supplies and equipment, the location of data backups and backup sites, where the plan is available and who should have it, and contact information for emergency responders, key personnel and backup site providers.
Remember that the disaster recovery plan is part of the business continuity plan, so developing a disaster recovery plan if you don’t already have one should be part of your process. And if you do already have a disaster recovery plan, don’t assume that all requirements have been factored in, O’Donnell warns. You need to be sure that restoration time is defined and “make sure it aligns with business expectations.”
As you create your plan, consider interviewing key personnel in organizations who have gone through a disaster successfully. People generally like to share “war stories” and the steps and techniques (or clever ideas) that saved the day. Their insights could prove incredibly valuable in helping you to craft a solid plan.
The importance of testing your business continuity plan
Testing a plan is the only way to truly know it will work, says O’Donnell. “Obviously, a real incident is a true test and the best way to understand if something works. However, a controlled testing strategy is much more comfortable and provides an opportunity to identify gaps and improve.”
You have to rigorously test a plan to know if it’s complete and will fulfill its intended purpose. In fact, O’Donnell suggests you try to break it. “Don’t go for an easy scenario; always make it credible but challenging. This is the only way to improve. Also, ensure the objectives are measurable and stretching. Doing the minimum and ‘getting away with it’ just leads to a weak plan and no confidence in a real incident.”
Many organizations test a business continuity plan two to four times a year. The schedule depends on your type of organization, the amount of turnover of key personnel and the number of business processes and IT changes that have occurred since the last round of testing.
Common tests include tabletop exercises , structured walk-throughs and simulations. Test teams are usually composed of the recovery coordinator and members from each functional unit.
A tabletop exercise usually occurs in a conference room with the team poring over the plan, looking for gaps and ensuring that all business units are represented therein.
In a structured walk-through, each team member walks through his or her components of the plan in detail to identify weaknesses. Often, the team works through the test with a specific disaster in mind. Some organizations incorporate drills and disaster role-playing into the structured walk-through. Any weaknesses should be corrected and an updated plan distributed to all pertinent staff.
It’s also a good idea to conduct a full emergency evacuation drill at least once a year. This type of test lets you determine if you need to make special arrangements to evacuate staff members who have physical limitations.
Lastly, disaster simulation testing can be quite involved and should be performed annually. For this test, create an environment that simulates an actual disaster, with all the equipment, supplies and personnel (including business partners and vendors) who would be needed. The purpose of a simulation is to determine if you can carry out critical business functions during the event.
During each phase of business continuity plan testing, include some new employees on the test team. “Fresh eyes” might detect gaps or lapses of information that experienced team members could overlook.
Review and improve your business continuity plan
Much effort goes into creating and initially testing a business continuity plan. Once that job is complete, some organizations let the plan sit while other, more critical tasks get attention. When this happens, plans go stale and are of no use when needed.
Technology evolves, and people come and go, so the plan needs to be updated, too. Bring key personnel together at least annually to review the plan and discuss any areas that must be modified.
Prior to the review, solicit feedback from staff to incorporate into the plan. Ask all departments or business units to review the plan, including branch locations or other remote units. If you’ve had the misfortune of facing a disaster and had to put the plan into action, be sure to incorporate lessons learned. Many organizations conduct a review in tandem with a table-top exercise or structured walk-through.
How to ensure business continuity plan support, awareness
One way to ensure your plan is not successful is to adopt a casual attitude toward its importance. Every business continuity plan must be supported from the top down. That means senior management must be represented when creating and updating the plan; no one can delegate that responsibility to subordinates. In addition, the plan is likely to remain fresh and viable if senior management makes it a priority by dedicating time for adequate review and testing.
Management is also key to promoting user awareness. If employees don’t know about the plan, how will they be able to react appropriately when every minute counts? Although plan distribution and training can be conducted by business unit managers or HR staff, have someone from the top kick off training and punctuate its significance. It’ll have a greater impact on all employees, giving the plan more credibility and urgency.
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The Bottom Line
What Is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP), and How Does It Work?
Pete Rathburn is a copy editor and fact-checker with expertise in economics and personal finance and over twenty years of experience in the classroom.
Investopedia / Ryan Oakley
What Is a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?
A business continuity plan (BCP) is a system of prevention and recovery from potential threats to a company. The plan ensures that personnel and assets are protected and are able to function quickly in the event of a disaster.
- Business continuity plans (BCPs) are prevention and recovery systems for potential threats, such as natural disasters or cyber-attacks.
- BCP is designed to protect personnel and assets and make sure they can function quickly when disaster strikes.
- BCPs should be tested to ensure there are no weaknesses, which can be identified and corrected.
Understanding Business Continuity Plans (BCPs)
BCP involves defining any and all risks that can affect the company's operations, making it an important part of the organization's risk management strategy. Risks may include natural disasters—fire, flood, or weather-related events—and cyber-attacks . Once the risks are identified, the plan should also include:
- Determining how those risks will affect operations
- Implementing safeguards and procedures to mitigate the risks
- Testing procedures to ensure they work
- Reviewing the process to make sure that it is up to date
BCPs are an important part of any business. Threats and disruptions mean a loss of revenue and higher costs, which leads to a drop in profitability. And businesses can't rely on insurance alone because it doesn't cover all the costs and the customers who move to the competition. It is generally conceived in advance and involves input from key stakeholders and personnel.
Business impact analysis, recovery, organization, and training are all steps corporations need to follow when creating a Business Continuity Plan.
Benefits of a Business Continuity Plan
Businesses are prone to a host of disasters that vary in degree from minor to catastrophic. Business continuity planning is typically meant to help a company continue operating in the event of major disasters such as fires. BCPs are different from a disaster recovery plan, which focuses on the recovery of a company's IT system after a crisis.
Consider a finance company based in a major city. It may put a BCP in place by taking steps including backing up its computer and client files offsite. If something were to happen to the company's corporate office, its satellite offices would still have access to important information.
An important point to note is that BCP may not be as effective if a large portion of the population is affected, as in the case of a disease outbreak. Nonetheless, BCPs can improve risk management—preventing disruptions from spreading. They can also help mitigate downtime of networks or technology, saving the company money.
How to Create a Business Continuity Plan
There are several steps many companies must follow to develop a solid BCP. They include:
- Business Impact Analysis : Here, the business will identify functions and related resources that are time-sensitive. (More on this below.)
- Recovery : In this portion, the business must identify and implement steps to recover critical business functions.
- Organization : A continuity team must be created. This team will devise a plan to manage the disruption.
- Training : The continuity team must be trained and tested. Members of the team should also complete exercises that go over the plan and strategies.
Companies may also find it useful to come up with a checklist that includes key details such as emergency contact information, a list of resources the continuity team may need, where backup data and other required information are housed or stored, and other important personnel.
Along with testing the continuity team, the company should also test the BCP itself. It should be tested several times to ensure it can be applied to many different risk scenarios . This will help identify any weaknesses in the plan which can then be identified and corrected.
In order for a business continuity plan to be successful, all employees—even those who aren't on the continuity team—must be aware of the plan.
Business Continuity Impact Analysis
An important part of developing a BCP is a business continuity impact analysis. It identifies the effects of disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses the information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.
FEMA provides an operational and financial impact worksheet to help run a business continuity analysis. The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers who are well acquainted with the business. These worksheets will summarize the following:
- The impacts—both financial and operational—that stem from the loss of individual business functions and process
- Identifying when the loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts
Completing the analysis can help companies identify and prioritize the processes that have the most impact on the business's financial and operational functions. The point at which they must be recovered is generally known as the “recovery time objective.”
Business Continuity Plan vs. Disaster Recovery Plan
BCPs and disaster recovery plans are similar in nature, the latter focuses on technology and information technology (IT) infrastructure. BCPs are more encompassing—focusing on the entire organization, such as customer service and supply chain.
BCPs focus on reducing overall costs or losses, while disaster recovery plans look only at technology downtimes and related costs. Disaster recovery plans tend to involve only IT personnel—which create and manage the policy. However, BCPs tend to have more personnel trained on the potential processes.
Why Is Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Important?
Businesses are prone to a host of disasters that vary in degree from minor to catastrophic and business continuity plans (BCPs) are an important part of any business. BCP is typically meant to help a company continue operating in the event of threats and disruptions. This could result in a loss of revenue and higher costs, which leads to a drop in profitability. And businesses can't rely on insurance alone because it doesn't cover all the costs and the customers who move to the competition.
What Should a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Include?
Business continuity plans involve identifying any and all risks that can affect the company's operations. The plan should also determine how those risks will affect operations and implement safeguards and procedures to mitigate the risks. There should also be testing procedures to ensure these safeguards and procedures work. Finally, there should be a review process to make sure that the plan is up to date.
What Is Business Continuity Impact Analysis?
An important part of developing a BCP is a business continuity impact analysis which identifies the effects of disruption of business functions and processes. It also uses the information to make decisions about recovery priorities and strategies.
FEMA provides an operational and financial impact worksheet to help run a business continuity analysis.
These worksheets summarize the impacts—both financial and operational—that stem from the loss of individual business functions and processes. They also identify when the loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impacts.
Business continuity plans (BCPs) are created to help speed up the recovery of an organization filling a threat or disaster. The plan puts in place mechanisms and functions to allow personnel and assets to minimize company downtime. BCPs cover all organizational risks should a disaster happen, such as flood or fire.
Federal Emergency Management Agency. " Business Process Analysis and Business Impact Analysis User Guide ," Pages 15 - 17. Accessed Sept. 5, 2021.
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Why is it important to have a business continuity plan?
What is a BCP?
A BCP is a predefined set of protocols on how your business should respond in case of an emergency or natural disaster. It contains contingency plans for every aspect of your organization, including human resources, assets, and business processes.
Key threats to business continuity
Various types of threats can affect SMBs such as:
- Natural disasters: These are natural phenomena such as floods, storms, earthquakes, and wildfires.
- Man-made disasters: These include cyberattacks, intentional sabotage, and human negligence.
- Equipment and utility failures: These include unexpected power failures, internet downtime, and disruption of communication services.
How to build an effective BCP
If your company does not have a BCP in place, now is a good time to create one. These steps will help you formulate an effective BCP that will ensure your company keeps running even during a major crisis.
- Perform a risk assessment To create an effective BCP, it’s important to identify the risks to prioritize. Start by identifying potential threats that may impact your daily operations. List down as well industry risks, geographical area, rising trends, and issues that your stakeholders may encounter. Next, categorize the risks based on the level of impact, likelihood of occurrence, or other criteria.Once risks have been identified and a plan has been developed, carefully identify any possible gaps. Collaborate with your team to identify any weak points in the plan, and make changes as necessary.
- Perform a business impact analysis (BIA) A BIA will help you determine how a disruption can affect your company’s current functions, processes, personnel, equipment, technology, and physical infrastructure. IT will also help you calculate the potential financial and operational loss from each function and process affected.
- Identify your recovery options Identify key resources for restoring your business to minimum operational levels. Some recovery options you can take include using data backups, allowing employees to work from home or operating from a secondary location.
- Document the plan Make a record of the BCP and store the document in a secure location, preferably an off-site one to reduce the risks of loss or damage in case of a disaster.
- Test and train Once your BCP is in place, your continuity team needs to perform tests regularly to identify gaps and make necessary changes to ensure the plan’s effectiveness. They also need to conduct regular employee training so that everyone knows their respective roles should a disaster strike.
Having an effective BCP is a great way to ensure your business can quickly recover after a major disaster. If you’re thinking about creating a BCP for your company but don’t know where to start, give us a call today.
5 Essential Steps to Business Continuity Planning
While over half of small and midsize business owners say it would take at least three months to recover from downtime, 60% don't have an emergency response plan . However, according to Gartner , the average cost of downtime can climb up to $5,600 per minute.
When it comes to business continuity planning, there are several critical issues leaders should be addressing. You must lay out the steps you will take to react to business shocks now, but also entirely reshape your business continuity plan.
Now is the time to create an active recovery plan if your organization doesn't have one. It takes effort, but you will give your business the best chance at survival after (and during) an unexpected event.
Keep reading to learn the steps to effective business continuity planning.
What Is Business Continuity Planning?
Business Continuity Planning focuses on maintaining business functions or efficiently resuming them in the event of a major disaster. A major disaster can be anything from a flood, fire, malicious cybercriminal to a pandemic.
A business continuity plan (BCP) outlines the procedures your organization will follow in the face of such disasters. It covers crisis communication strategy, assets, business partners, human resources, and more.
You've likely heard of a disaster recovery plan that focuses on restoring IT infrastructure and operations after a disaster. However, disaster recovery is one small part of a complete BCP, as it seeks to ensure the continuity of the entire organization.
As time passes and the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled, organizations must review and renew business continuity plans. You will need to assess how your current BCPs are working—if you have any.
The best way to locate any gaps is through business continuity testing . If you spot deficiencies, you must highlight them and identify the root causes, whether it's external environmental issues, lack of infrastructure, or timeliness of action.
Agility Planner is an intuitive business continuity planning and preparation tool that streamlines, simplifies, and supports your BC management process. Agility Planner has been developed to help your business go from reactive to proactive with its business continuity planning.
Then, outline new procedures based on lessons learned, and contingency plans to build resilience and adequately respond to future disasters.
COVID-19 is unlike anything our economy has ever experienced, so it was impossible to prepare for with traditional wisdom and forecasting tools. However, you should view this disaster as something to learn from and carry the lessons learned forward once the pandemic has passed , and you've had time to analyze your response.
Top Threats to Your Organization's Continuity
Depending on your industry and level of risk, every organization will have different primary threats to daily business. Risk assessments before creating a BCP is helpful for this reason. You don't need to have a plan for every possible scenario, but you should watch out for the following common disruptors.
You've likely experienced how a global pandemic can throw a wrench in the best of business plans, from all angles.
Many employees must work from home, demand for specific items grows, and supplies decrease due to disturbances across the supply chain.
When considering how your organization will respond to a global pandemic, put in place a solid disaster communication plan. You'll need to envision how your employees will work together and conduct necessary business offsite.
It's also necessary to consider alternate suppliers and products to avoid a single point of failure.
Use what's happening now to determine what is and isn't working for your business, then plan for how you will handle similar scenarios in the future.
Imagine the disruption to your "business as usual" that would be caused by a loss of communication lines, power generation, or water shutoffs.
Unexpected utility outages can also potentially damage physical assets, causing a loss of productivity and downtime.
Power outages have been on the rise in the past couple of years . Particularly, the region that got affected the most was the state of California, with hundreds of thousands of customers being affected in April alone . A single power outage event can devastate an organization's revenue, productivity, capacity, and labor. Increasingly, utilities are practicing planned de-energization events, or Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPSs). As a last resort to prevent power lines from starting wildfires and putting human lives in danger, planned power outages are scheduled to take place during hot, dry days.
A natural disaster describes any weather-related disaster, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, ad tsunamis. It also refers to natural phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and wildfires.
The worst disasters happen in an instant and are impossible to predict. Any business could experience grave damage to its physical structures and assets.
Natural disasters also disrupt supply chains in affected areas, causing a lack of supply for in-demand items.
A cyberattack is a malicious computer-based attack on a technical asset.
Cyberattacks include data theft, ransomware attacks, SQL injections, and distributed denial of services (DDoS) attacks.
If you have the right security measures in place, you may only experience limited IT functionality until the issue is resolved. If you don't have data backup or recovery, you could potentially lose access to valuable business data. We have developed a brief and actionable cybersecurity checklist to help your organization take the first steps to check for any signs that may lead to a data breach or a cyberattack at your organization and develop preventative measures to safeguard your operations.
Steps to Creating a Business Continuity Plan
While creating an effective BCP is a lot of work, it's a critical piece of operating a resilient business.
You, your appointed business continuity team, and your staff must take continuity planning seriously. Here are five steps to help you get started.
Step 1: Assemble a Business Continuity Management Team
The makeup of your team depends on your continuity objectives and the size of your company.
A good BCP should detail what your staff needs to do in the event of a disaster, what communication methods are required, and the timeframe in which critical IT services need to be available.
- Create a contact list of key people involved in your company's BCP, including names, titles, and communication info (both work and personal) such as phone numbers, email addresses.
- Provide a detailed overview of their roles and responsibilities so that everyone knows what is expected of them in an outage event.
- Have a process in place for how your BCP will be updated and how these updates will be communicated to the team.
This team will prepare standards for the project and train additional team members. They will also identify clear processes to improve project flow.
Step 2: Ensure the Safety and Wellbeing of Your Employees
- When planning, you must prepare to prioritize the safety of your employees amid a crisis. They will look to you, their community, and the government for guidance. Be proactive and transparently address their concerns. Right now, many companies have to decide to initiate or expand remote work arrangements and other policies that allow employees to work flexibly.
- Depending on your industry, you'll want to reallocate resources and reorganize teams, as well as establish employee wellbeing programs and procedures that support a safe working environment .
- Make sure you have proper communication channels in place to get in touch with all of your employees at the same time. Sending an email may not be sufficient if the wifi is down. Consider implementing a BC Planning software with an integrated emergency messaging tool to ensure all business processes are continuous, and everyone is safe. Communicate with your teams early and regularly. You want to engage your employees as you navigate through the current crisis.
Reimagining your usual business environment while minimizing disruptions requires a delicate balance. In some situations, telecommuting and flexible work arrangements aren't possible. In scenarios during which you'll have workers in direct contact with customers, you must prepare to provide personal protective equipment.
Step 3: Understand the Risks to Your Company
Once your business continuity management team is assembled, you must conduct a business impact analysis (BIA).
This type of analysis will help you identify specific threats to financial performance, operations, supply chains, reputation, employees. It can serve as a starting point when identifying risks.
You and your team should brainstorm a list of threats and potential risks to your business. Then discuss how the risks mentioned above could affect business operations.
Don't undermine the importance of this step—or how long it could take. A proper BIA will typically involve a comprehensive questionnaire to gather the breadth of information you will need. BCP production tools such as Agility Planner help get started with creating a BCP or a BIA and provide access to historical data and ready-to-use templates.
Step 4: Implement Recovery Strategies
Once a disaster occurs, and financial losses begin to grow, it can be challenging to get back on track without a BCP in place. Consider the following questions as you discuss options with your team:
- Do you have a way to get sales, HR, manufacturing, and support personnel back to work after a disaster to continue operating your business?
- How will you continue to meet the demand for products or services if your equipment or facility is damaged?
- If your facilities are impacted, will your employees work remotely at home or from an alternate location?
You'll address concerns like these and more in your business continuity plan.
Address Every Business Function
It's essential not to leave any business function out of your plan. Be sure to address the following:
- Level of risk
- Impact on customers and employees
- How you will communicate with stakeholders
- Financial resources available in the event of a disaster
- Emergency policy creation
- External partners who can work together with you in a mutually-beneficial way.
Set realistic timelines and intentions across your company's resilience journey to ensure you reach your goals and exceed expectations.
As you work through your plan, develop relevant reports to share with all stakeholders. Use highly visual reports to highlight areas that need attention and show progress.
Step 5: Test, Test Again and Make Improvements
No matter how long you spend perfecting it, a business continuity plan is never truly finished—just as the risks and requirements of your industry are never set in stone.
Testing your business continuity plan allows you to validate it as you manage risks. While 88% of companies test their strategies to identify gaps, 63% of them do so to validate their plans.
The result of this testing is not "pass or fail," yet continuous improvement by identifying findings through a live exercise. Prepare your organization for success by using this checklist for business continuity testing.
Prepare for Disruption with a Business Continuity Solution
While you may never encounter a significant disruption to your business, nothing is ever certain. The chances are that you'll have your fair share of hurdles.
Identify risks and what you need to do to keep your business in motion. Planning will give you a competitive edge and help alleviate any financial risk involved.
Sleep easier at night by knowing you have a plan to reduce the impact of business disruptions before, during, and after a disaster occurs. Request a demo today to learn how Agility Central can help your organization remain resilient.
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The death of a cryptocurrency exchange CEO serves as a cautionary tale of FinTech startups playing with huge sums of cash without the caution and oversight needed.
Since the introduction of Bitcoin 10 years ago, an ecosystem of startups developed around the cryptocurrency market. Effectively, these are FinTech startups playing with a security that only gained legitimacy from the perspective of traditional banks in the wake of the arrest and conviction of alleged Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht .
Because of this uneasy path toward reaching public consciousness and legitimacy, regulation lags far behind the state of technology. As a result, cryptocurrency-focused FinTech startups are operating without a semblance of continuity in the event of disaster, and a lack of robust regulation to ensure proper handling of data security is to blame.
SEE: Disaster recovery and business continuity plan (Tech Pro Research)
Why your company needs a business continuity plan
Customers of Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX are experiencing the pains of this failure to plan following the apparent death of 30-year-old CEO Gerald Cotten. Allegedly, Cotten died “due to complications with Crohn’s disease on December 9, 2018 while traveling in India, where he was opening an orphanage,” according to a post on the company’s Facebook page.
Cotten’s death prompted a mass withdrawal from QuadrigaCX, prompting liquidity issues, as most of the exchange’s holdings were stored in cold wallets, for which only Cotten knew the password. As a result, $145 million worth of cryptocurrency –including 0.5% of all Ether coins in circulation–are likely now lost in this cold wallet. Cryptocurrency is held in either hot wallets, which are internet-connected and support active trading, or in cold wallets, which are offline data stores which hold coin information offline. The use of a cold wallet is for reserves is not necessarily an indicator of malicious intent, as this practice is insurance against hackers stealing coins from hot wallets, as was the case of the ill-fated Mt. Gox exchange .
In terms of business planning, there are numerous points of failure in this scenario:
- One person should not hold business-critical passwords without a recovery mechanism in the event they are incapacitated or killed.
- One person holding business-critical passwords should not travel internationally without creating a recovery mechanism in the event of abduction or arrest.
- Waiting over a month to publicly announce the death of the CEO falls far short of responsible disclosure.
SEE: Resource and data recovery policy (Tech Pro Research)
“Where, exactly, was the risk mitigation function? Oh, yes, there wasn’t one,” James Bailey , a professor at the George Washington University School of Business, told TechRepublic. “Cryptocurrency exchanges are bare-bones operations, often run by one person with a server that’s linked to a bunch of other servers. That person might not have a financial or accounting background, and even if so, have built up systems to manage potential liabilities or emergencies. Not having a password that holds the electronic money of thousands of people stored somewhere represents the height of irresponsibility. Not having accounting methodologies that represent holdings is not only incautious, it’s reckless.”
How to create a business continuity plan
An effective business continuity plan lays out the instructions and procedures an organization must undergo when some kind of disaster occurs. Every organization should have such a plan in place to avoid losing money or halting operations, as was the case with QuadrigaCX.
A business continuity plan should include the following, according to Tech Pro Research :
- Definitions of the systems and data the organization must protect
- How the organization will backup and protect specified data from loss
- How and where the organization will recover operations should a crisis occur
- Which individuals, departments, or teams are responsible for which disaster planning and execution tasks
- How to test the plan, which 23% of companies fail to do
Business continuity planning is particularly important for relatively new FinTech startups, as cryptocurrency regulation and oversight is “still a Wild West,” Bailey said.
“Crypto-investors are welcome to assume the risk, but they deserve to know that their funds are treated responsibly and that the exchanges operate methodically, with transparent procedures and abundant assurance,” he added. “If you play with fire, sooner or later you’ll get burned. Cryptocurrency is the modern equivalent of a financial blaze, and QuadrigaCX is a prominent example of being scalded. They likely won’t be the last.”
The potential for QuadrigaCX to be an exit scam is still decently high, as QuadrigaCX and their payment processor Costodian is facing a lawsuit from major Canadian bank CIBC , as people associated with Costodian attempted to transfer Quadriga customer funds to their personal accounts, the suit alleges.
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Business Continuity Plan Template
Prepare for business disruption and disaster recovery.
Published 15 Feb 2023
What is a Business Continuity Plan Template?
A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) template is a tool used by business continuity managers and IT teams to outline strategies for keeping businesses operational despite emergencies such as extreme weather events, building evacuations, power outages, etc. It identifies high business impact operational areas, assets, and recovery strategies with assigned personnel.
Download Free Template
Use this Business Continuity Plan (BCP) template as an outline for your business continuity plan that will critically assess all aspects of the business and make sure the emergency procedures and equipment are adequate. This business continuity template can help with ISO 22301 compliance and allow business continuity managers and consultants to:
- Identify key business functions and components to be prioritized for restoration and recovery during an emergency.
- Add list of processes/equipment most at risk of disrupting business operations.
- Discuss roles and responsibilities of key personnel and gather confirmation (digital signatures).
Click on the Web or PDF report below to view the business continuity plan example.
- Preview Sample Digital Report
- Preview Sample PDF Report
Business continuity templates can be used in any industry for IT disaster recovery, continuity of customer-facing operations, and backup of transport & logistics operations.
In this article
7 elements of business continuity planning, components of a bcp template with examples, faqs about bcp, how do you write a business continuity plan with safetyculture (formerly iauditor), featured business continuity plan templates.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, the economy took a massive hit. The need for a business continuity plan became more apparent to organizations. Business continuity planning enables businesses, small or large, to build a more resilient operation.
A Business Continuity Plan should include:
1. BCP Team
In the midst of a disaster or emergency, having a team or point person to go to will be essential. The BCP team will be responsible for planning and testing business continuity strategies. Background of each member in the BCP team can vary from organization managers or supervisors to specialists.
2. Business Impact Analysis
A business impact analysis (BIA) identifies, quantifies, and qualifies the impact of a loss, interruption, or disruption. Having a BIA will be essential in discovering risks that your business is exposed to and the potential disruptions that may occur.
3. Risk Mitigation
This element pertains to the strategies against the risks that were discovered during the BIA. Risk mitigation strategies may include putting up security and safety systems in the workplace, conducting preventive maintenance of vehicles, machines, equipment, or any asset vital to operations, and training of employees, among others.
4. Business Continuity Strategies
A good business continuity plan should establish strategies or alternate practices to keep the business running despite disruptions or disasters. An example of a continuity strategy that a lot of businesses had to implement during the pandemic was remote working or work-from-home. This enabled businesses to continue their operations and keep their employees safe from contracting COVID-19 in the workplace.
5. Business Continuity Plan
The business continuity plan is a combination of findings from the performed BIA and the recovery strategies established by the organization. A BCP plan typically includes 4 key components: scope & objectives, operations at risk, recovery strategy, and roles and responsibilities.
All relevant personnel associated with the business continuity, disaster recovery, and incident response process should be trained according to the BCP plan that’s established and agreed upon.
In the testing phase, strategies and plans are being rehearsed or exercised to demonstrate its effectiveness. Testing the plan before rolling it out will enable the BCP team to discover potential flaws and fix them before they lead to damage or injury. It is recommended to review and test the plan periodically to ensure that all protocols and strategies are up-to-date.
Business Continuity Plan Template | Preview Sample PDF Report
BCP serves as a guide for organizations on creating an effective strategy for responding to potential business-disrupting events. Here are four key components of a BCP:
Scope & Objectives
States the purpose of the BCP, including specific business functions that should be prioritized for recovery during an emergency. This section should include examples of emergency events that would trigger the response of this BCP.
This BCP is to ensure the continuity of IT services and customer lines in the event of an unforeseen and prolonged power shutdown. Power disruption could be caused by emergency weather conditions or a building fire. Functional areas that are prioritized for recovery in this BCP include the customer support desk and finance team.
Operations at Risk
Includes possible risks with key operational functions which would greatly disrupt business and customer continuity. This also involves the magnitude of risk to each function, which will help the BCP committee decide on appropriate preventive actions.
Operation: Customer Support Operation Description: Customer support team looking after 24-hour global operations of live chat and customer calls for US, EMEA and APAC regions Business Impact: Critical Impact description: 100% of live chats go through the customer support team in Manila. 20% of live calls are routed to Manila office. A disruption would mean no more live chat support and customers experiencing significant wait times on calls Project timeline and team schedules
Outlines all the relevant procedures to restore business operations after an incident or crisis. A good recovery strategy includes a realistic recovery timeline and essential emergency resources.
IT personnel and BCP committees should operate alternate backup programs and servers to help save customer requests after power outage. Customer support should be able to receive the requests and respond to customers within 30 minutes. IT Director should operate alternate server rooms in Area B if the power outage last more than an hour to prevent huge revenue loss.
Roles & Responsibilities
Refers to key personnel and their assigned tasks during or after an incident. Each committee member has a unique set of responsibilities to successfully carry out the BCP for each business function.
Representative: Jon Sims Role: Head of Operations Contact Details: [email protected] Description of Responsibilities: 1. Must ensure BCPs are updated and must coordinate with team leaders regarding changes 2. Helps notify key stakeholders in EMEA region of threats in Customer Support programs & tools
Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is important because it helps organizations protect their business amid a crisis or emergency. A business continuity plan contains instructions that will serve as a guide for the organization to maintain their operations.
A business continuity plan should be tested at least every 6 months to verify the BCP’s effectiveness. Frequent testing can also allow the discovery of gaps, and potential issues. This will help the organization update protocols and strategies accordingly.
BCP documents should be updated regularly. If any organizational changes have been made in terms of team structures and operational procedures, the BCP should be updated. A review will be conducted to check if information in the BCP is still reliable. .
Outdated BCPs might result in loss of customer trust, huge revenue loss, and damage to brand and company reputation. This is why it is crucial for BCPs to remain up-to-date.
Regular BCP audits are essential to help evaluate emergency procedures and identify if there are vulnerabilities. They also help realign emergency procedures to the ISO 22301 standard, business goals, and industry practices. Up-to-date and efficient BCPs help businesses effectively manage any unexpected event, prevent extra costs, and continuously develop their overall processes and key functions. Using a business continuity plan checklist can aid business continuity managers and IT teams to ensure comprehensive BCP audit reports.
SafetyCulture , the world’s leading digital form mobile software, can help businesses create and prepare a good business continuity plan more efficiently. Paper-based business continuity plan templates and Excel spreadsheets can be troublesome for management to keep and regularly update. With SafetyCulture as a business continuity software , businesses can switch to a paperless planning process where you can create your own templates, easily assess the accuracy of recovery procedures, and update your plans as needed in your mobile device. With SafetyCulture, you can:
- Create and customize business continuity plans using your desktop, iPad, or even on your mobile phone
- Easily assign tasks to key personnel and BCP committee members
- Use speech to text dictation to easily complete audits
- Gather photographic evidence in your BCP drills
- Record electronic signatures as required
- Send and share an updated business continuity plan report to your team in a few taps. See sample business continuity plan PDF report here .
- Automatically save your BCPs in the cloud
To help you get started on your paperless planning, we have created the business continuity templates and checklists you can download and customize for free.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan Template (IT)
A business continuity and disaster recovery plan template is used to identify business functions at risk during an emergency and come up with a plan for continuous operation and recovery. This business continuity and disaster recovery plan template aims to help IT teams and business continuity managers become proactive in preparing for events that could disrupt operations and come up with strategies for disaster recovery. This template empowers you to:
- Specify and prioritize IT functions for recovery during a disaster.
- Describe IT equipment/ systems at risk in disrupting normal operations and essential backup programs needed for recovery.
- Confirm assigned tasks with IT team members through their digital signatures.
Business Continuity Plan Checklist
Perform regular audits of your organization’s BCP with a business continuity plan checklist. Whether small or medium business, this checklist can be used to ensure BCPs are up to date and reflect current high impact operations. Review key operational functions outlined in the BCP including recovery strategies and relevant assigned resources. SafetyCulture (iAuditor) BCP templates can be edited to fit the organization’s needs.
- Download PDF Report
Business Continuity Awareness Checklist
This template highlights the importance of employee awareness and employee knowledge of business continuity plans and business continuity processes. As a business continuity process template, this document helps:
- Gauge the level of understanding employees have regarding BCP processes.
- Determine opportunities how to better acclimate teams to internal business continuity plans.
- Identify the need for continuous improvement of business continuity programs.
SafetyCulture staff writer
Erick Brent Francisco
Erick Brent Francisco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. As a content specialist, he is interested in learning and sharing how technology can improve work processes and workplace safety. His experience in logistics, banking and financial services, and retail helps enrich the quality of information in his articles.
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Neil Luo, Head of Growth, AirWallex.
What is a business continuity plan and why is it important?
July 24, 2020
Business continuity is your business’ ability to continue functioning as ‘normally’ as possible during and after a crisis. Essentially, it’s your ability to plan for and effectively manage disruption to business as usual.
A business continuity plan is your organisation’s formalised processes to manage these disruptive situations.
Now, while these disruptions may include things like flood, fires, cyber attacks, or even global pandemics, your business continuity plan actually sits at a higher level than this.
Instead of focusing on specific events, it provides the framework for your business to continue to operate as crises hit, and provides procedures you can follow to ensure your business is managed successfully during these times.
Why it’s important to have a business continuity plan in place
While it is possible to weather a crisis without a continuity plan, it’s going to be a difficult, uncomfortable experience, and you’ll feel like you’re flying blind.
So by building a plan early, and reviewing it regularly, you’ll get peace of mind that should a crisis hit, you can deploy your plan and use it as your roadmap forward. It provides the clear framework for your business to follow that enables you to continue as close to business as usual as possible, even when things are decidedly not usual.
As such, it’s important that you have a business continuity plan in place before these issues occur.
It’s important to remember that your business continuity plan is a framework. The plan itself provides the overarching structure for your response. How your business responds to specific disruptions can be detailed in individual incident response documents held within your plan.
This can include planning for:
- Natural disasters such as storms, bushfires, or floods
- Global pandemics (and at this point, we’ve all learned some valuable lessons on preparing for these types of crises)
- IT events such as cyber attacks, network failures, etc
- Financial crises like the GFC, economic downturns, and recessions
- Issues at any point along your supply chain
- Health & safety, such as what to do in the event of workplace injury or illness
Does my business need a continuity plan?
Regardless of your business’ size, it’s sensible to have a plan in place for handling disruption.
You likely have an IT recovery plan in place in case of data loss or cyber attack (and if you don’t, get on that immediately), but what about if an event occurs that puts half your management team out of action?
Even as a small business, having a continuity plan in place empowers you to continue servicing your clients without the threat of shutting down.
How to create a business continuity plan
Creating an effective business continuity plan will help you feel comfortable that your business has the ability to manage future crises to the best of your abilities. This isn’t to say it will be easy—but you will be as prepared as possible.
At the outset this process can seem overwhelming. So it’s always best to start simple, and create your core content, then build out your plan from there.
Here are the three key pillars you’ll need to create the core framework for your business continuity plan.
Plan for risks
Also known as a business impact analysis, this first building block allows you to map out your business-critical activities that must be protected at all costs.
- Start by outlining the critical business activities that need to occur in order for your business to continue.
- Then, identify any potential risks that your business faces that may impact these activities. By anticipating possible disruptions you’re able to plan how to manage them.
- Analyse the likelihood that these may happen. For example, IT issues are much more likely than a tornado.
- Evaluate the consequence of this disruption occurring. What will the impact be on your business? What will happen if your business stops performing a particular activity, and how long can it survive without it? Use this to rank the risks in priority order to determine a hierarchy of how and when to deal with them.
- Identify processes that help your business minimise these impacts, including the resources required to do so.
Outline how you’ll respond to incidents
Once you’ve outlined the risks and impacts of disruption on your business, you need to define how you’ll handle them.
Start by identifying your crisis response team, those among your staff who will be needed when responding to an incident. Be sure to nominate who can take their place if they’re not available.
- Determine messaging and communication channels used during the crisis, including the timing of your communications. What will you say to your stakeholders? How often will you communicate with your staff and clients, and how will you do so?
- Create a contact list with all the necessary contact details for communication in these times. This includes your internal staff, their families, clients, suppliers, and even emergency service contacts. Depending on your communication channels, this can include phone number, address, email, Skype ID, or Twitter handle.
- Use the processes you created in your risk planning to formalise the actions you’ll take when specific disruptions occur. This is where you should go into detail, so you can make it as easy as possible for any reader to understand what to do in specific situations.
The Victorian government provides a guide of what to think about when creating your incident response plan. You can check it out here .
Put steps in place for recovery once you’re out the other side
Once the disruption has occurred and it’s been managed successfully (i.e. your business is still afloat and everyone is safe and healthy), it’s time to begin the recovery phase of your continuity plan.
Your recovery plan outlines the steps to take to resume your business-critical activities, and the required timeframes, that will lead you back to business as usual—whatever that may look like.
- Determine the specific processes that will get your core business activities back online as quickly as possible.
- Identify the key resources and staff needed to complete these steps.
- Develop a checklist, or key indicators, to mark your recovery plan against, to ensure you’re on track.
These steps might look simple, but there’s a lot that goes into your recovery plan. For a better understanding of what you’ll need the Queensland government have created a thorough walkthrough to help you create a strong recovery plan .
A business continuity plan helps you plan for the future
Having a business continuity plan in place provides peace of mind that your business is protected against potential threats, and you’ll be able to safely manage your way through them.
For an in-depth guide on how to create one for your business, the Australian government’s guideline When things don’t go to plan is a valuable resource for how to develop and build a complete continuity plan, and help you weather any crisis.
It can be daunting to begin with, but by spending the time on your continuity plan now, you can take comfort knowing that your business has the flexibility to bounce back, whatever gets thrown at you.
Neil Luo is Head of Growth at Airwallex.
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Business Continuity Planning
- March 16, 2020
With a potential pandemic sweeping the globe, businesses, educational institutions, and other organizations are beginning to test the strength of their continuity planning—or lack thereof. And in today’s tech-focused society, a company’s ability to keep things humming along during quarantine or other sudden disruption largely depends on its data services. Learn why business continuity services are so essential and how Integrated Axis Technology Group can help organizations meet their continuity goals.
What is Business Continuity Planning?
Business continuity planning allows businesses to seamlessly adjust to unexpected events by protecting and maintaining crucial data and systems. These plans can encompass everything from a brief power outage to a wildfire evacuation to a terrorist attack. By creating a plan that can adapt to a variety of different variables, businesses will be able to minimize shutdowns or supply chain issues that can cause significant disruptions.
Many business continuity plans depend on the cloud—both to back up crucial documents and programs and to provide remote workers the ability to work from home. A business continuity plan can be as detailed or as simple as an organization would like, but in general, the more detail, the better. The best continuity plans have concrete, clearly-communicated benchmarks, and standards to ensure that everyone operating within the plan is on the same page.
Business continuity plans should be tested regularly. The last thing any organization wants is to discover a major fault in their disaster planning (or data breach) when it matters most. These tests can be as simple as a quarterly work-from-home day to ensure that all key personnel has the infrastructure to log in and perform their routine tasks no matter where they’re located.
How Can Organizations Maintain Cybersecurity During a Disruptive Event?
There are a few things that businesses can do to create a secure, reliable continuity plan.
First is to identify and prioritize the key, core business functions, and time-sensitive tasks—the types of tasks that are necessary to keep things running. Next, you’ll want to lay out the steps required to recover core functionality, like setting up employees with a VPN, transferring processes to an off-site server, or assigning workers to retrieve certain items from headquarters.
You’ll also want to name a continuity team: managers, directors, security officers, IT personnel, and others who can strategize and create plans that minimize business disruption. These plans should be tested and tweaked regularly, incorporating suggestions and adapting to changes in the logistical landscape.
Finally, it’s a good idea to distill this information down to a simple checklist or flow chart that everyone can use for reference. From emergency contact numbers and email addresses to an index that helps employees determine where specific information is stored, these “cheat sheets” can be incredibly useful.
Throughout this process, keeping your data secure is the key to emerging unscathed. If you’re wondering whether your own business’s continuity planning could use some work, look no further than Tucson’s Integrated Axis Technology Group. Integrated Axis offers backup and disaster recovery services that can protect against malware, hackers, and other threats to your business.
- (520) 877-3033
- 6147 E Grant Rd, Tucson, AZ
- [email protected]
- (602) 577-3033
- 221 E Indianola Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85012
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Running a successful company requires an understanding of how to serve customers, regardless of market conditions. Business continuity plans help companies stay running during natural disasters, economic downturns and bad publicity. While some business owners like to believe that they can quickly come up with a "Plan B" to work through a crisis, the world's best corporate leaders spend time making plans for events they hope will never happen.
A business continuity plan outlines the steps necessary for a company to operate in the wake of a sudden and severe change to market conditions. Continuity plans can address basic concerns, such as the chain of command in the event a company leader dies or becomes extremely ill. Likewise, continuity plans reveal backup strategies for drastic scenarios, such as labor disputes, patent lawsuits or distribution bottlenecks.
A comprehensive business continuity plan forces leaders to review the weaknesses and threats to their organizations from a detached perspective. While few business leaders want to focus on negative "what if" questions, the process of creating a continuity plan can raise concerns about employee development, real estate selection and intellectual property security. Tight plans can assure teams that company leaders understand how to turn on a dime during challenging times.
Business continuity plans often focus too much on disaster recovery and too little on the weaknesses emerging from within an organization. For example, many companies now use cloud computing resources to safeguard data in the event of an earthquake or a flood. A comprehensive business continuity plan should speculate on a company's actions if a corporate officer or manager leaks sensitive data or if a production defect causes customer harm.
Crafting a business continuity plan involves assessing leadership, employees, resources and corporate strategies. The process itself can highlight weaknesses a company can correct long before facing an urgent situation. Government agencies offer guidelines and planning tool kits that emphasize areas of opportunity, including reliance on public utilities, employee transportation and communication tools.
According to Derek Slater, writing for CSO Magazine, many successful business continuity plans involve contracts for outsourced space and technology in the event of a severe disaster and outsourced consulting services in the event of an internal process failure. Relying on outside resources saves money compared to maintaining "shadow" facilities that most companies can't afford. Leaning on outside experts during times of crisis can also ensure employees and investors that a company can move forward based on strategy instead of emotion.
- CSO: Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning: The Basics
- Inc.: How to Build a Business Continuity Plan
- University of Massachusetts: Business Continuity and Planning Guidelines
Joe Taylor Jr. manages sales for a Fortune 500 company and writes about finance, culture, and design. He has worked as a journalist and producer since 1989. His work has appeared on CNBC, CNN, and NPR, where Elvis Costello once taught him how to brew perfect tea. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Ithaca College.
Company disaster plan examples, crisis management tools, what is contingency management in a business, business continuity & contingency planning, the benefits of management plans, are lawsuits a threat or weakness in swot, issues to discuss at safety committee meetings, how formal stakeholders impact the business continuity plan, what is a good strategic direction plan in a production setting, most popular.
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Business Continuity Planning for Banks
The history of business continuity planning for banks and financial crises that inevitably impact banking institutions has taught us that nothing is 100 percent certain or safe. We can come up with analyses and forecasts, but a crisis can strike at any time. It can come in the form of natural catastrophes. Crises can also arise from human-made disasters, such as acts of terrorism, civil war, fraud in various forms and at different levels, cybercriminal attacks, technological failures, human error, and many others.
This is why business continuity planning is such an essential company-wide responsibility . It involves the development of strategies designed to ensure the restoration of critical business processes, as well as the technical recovery of critical information systems integral to such functions during bank-wide service or operational disruptions. It plans for how critical processes, departments, information systems, and business units will work in tandem as a coordinated response to any disruption.
For timely business resumption and recovery, there should be a tightly unified planning process involving each business unit’s plans and roles in the resumption of essential processes. This includes both short-term and long-term disruptions and subsequent recovery operations. Moreover, senior management must set the tone for everyone else that business continuity is an organizational responsibility, and not an information technology (IT) department matter for which only the IT function is liable.
The objectives of business continuity planning
Business continuity planning is essential to all companies during disruptions. In the banking industry, in particular, it aims to accomplish the following objectives:
- To reduce financial loss to the banking institution.
- To ensure customers and financial market participants continue to be served.
- To diminish the negative impact of disruptions on the bank’s reputation, market position, liquidity, credit quality, strategic plans, and operations.
- To maintain the bank’s ability to comply with applicable laws and regulations.
Today, technological innovation and changing internal and external business processes, as well as the emergence of new threat scenarios, require the continuous review and update of business continuity plans.
A bank’s business continuity plan must always take into account regional disasters, and possible staff inaccessibility and losses. This is especially useful in the case of pandemics, such as epidemic-prone diseases like Ebola, influenza, and SARS, which affected several countries. Such outbreaks do not only impact staff availability but also affect customers who may become paralyzed with fear and panic, leading to increased delinquencies, higher internet banking volume, more requests for additional credit, and, at worst, bank runs.
The importance of impact analysis
An essential step in any business continuity plan is a business impact analysis that distinguishes critical from non-critical functions.
A critical function is one whose implication for stakeholders or the extent of damage to the bank is considered unacceptable or disastrous. Moreover, any function that is dictated or required by law is automatically regarded as critical. What are perceived to be acceptable disruptions may be changed based on the cost of establishing and maintaining the necessary business or technical recovery solutions?
Furthermore, impact analysis leads to the identification of each critical function’s recovery requirements. These include the timeframe in which the critical operation is restored after a disaster, the business and technical requirements essential to the recovery of each vital process.
These days, banks have shorter business recovery time objectives compared to just a few years ago. In fact, recovery time for some institutions takes only a matter of hours, minutes, and sub-minutes, depending on the reason for the disruption.
A business continuity plan must also address or take into account market-based and geographic interdependencies since there are now local, national, and global banking networks, as well as infrastructure service providers.
Critical components of a business continuity plan
According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) FINRA Rule 4370 , the elements comprising a member’s business continuity plan are flexible. They can be tailored to the scale and requirements of each member. However, all plans must address the following:
- Data backup and recovery (hard copy and electronic): This encompasses a clear identification of where primary books and records, as well as backup files (hard copy and electronic) of the same, are kept or located. Establishments should also be prepared to provide a detailed description of the data backup and recovery process during major business disruptions.
- All mission-critical systems: What is deemed to be mission-critical systems vary based on each member’s business. For banks, these would include online banking, access to customer accounts, and encryption.
- Financial and operational assessments: These assessments include a record of procedures to be undertaken, allowing for a bank to identify changes in its operational, financial, and credit risk exposures.
- Alternate communications between customers and the firm and between the firm and its employees: These encompass the provisions to be made to ensure an interrupted connection among everyone involved.
- Alternate physical location of employees: In the case of disruptions, there should be designated alternative sites for employees (this includes key personnel) in the resumption of business operations.
- Critical business constituent, bank, and counterparty impact: This covers the effect significant business disruption can have on a bank’s relationships with other banks, counterparties, and other stakeholders, and how it will address such impacts.
- Regulatory reporting: This should spell out the capability of a bank to ensure compliance with regulatory reporting requirements in the event of business disruption.
- Communications with regulators: This covers how a bank can communicate with FINRA during a significant disruption, and identifies designated business continuity plan contacts with FINRA who will assist in the communication.
- How the firm will assure customers’ prompt access to their funds and securities: Comprises details on how the bank will make funds and securities available to customers in the event of an extensive business disruption.
The business continuity planning process should be a continuously evolving step and bank-wide responsibility. It must be resilient and current to be capable of efficiently responding to changes in business operations and potential threats, and must completely address all audit recommendations and test results.
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Why Small Businesses Should Consider Business Continuity Planning
Resilience, or a lack thereof, has been a defining theme of the past year.
By Patrick Shanahan • Aug 21, 2021
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Amid economic strife and a public health crisis, businesses naturally divided along two lines: the prepared and the unprepared. Even then, most did not escape without bruises.
This division also seemed to fall along another line: the size of the business. While most organizations were impacted by the pandemic, small businesses were unquestionably hit the hardest. In a PNAS survey conducted in 2020, 43% of the small business respondents had temporarily closed, mostly due to Covid-19.
In part, this skewed struggle maps back to cash flow and resources. The PNAS survey showed that most respondents only had enough cash to last two months or less. On the flip side of the coin, enterprises have the advantage of typically having deeper pockets. According to a Small Business Administration report that analyzed the 2008 recession, larger companies recovered to their pre-crisis contribution to GDP in an average of four years, while smaller ones took an average of six.
Resilience is not solely dictated by cash flow, however. Large enterprises have another advantage — business continuity planning and disaster recovery. These practices are table stakes for big companies, yet are often seen as too corporate or excessive for smaller ones. Why are processes around resilience beholden to size? Don't we live in the world of scalability? Small businesses can — and deserve — to also think big without overextending their resources.
Related: How to Start Using Email to Market Your Small Business
Why business continuity can't be exclusive to the enterprise
Business continuity planning helps make operations as resilient as possible. Here are two important definitions to know:
- Business continuity planning is the process of identifying potential threats to a company and creating protocols to deal with them so that business can keep moving forward.
- Disaster recovery is a set of tools and procedures that restore a business's vital information, processes and systems following a disaster.
Sure, that protocol and those tools may look different for an enterprise (ex. an entire team and tech stack dedicated to the issue), but that doesn't mean businesses can't adopt the same best practices on a smaller scale. With the right plan, they can reap the same benefits as larger companies.
Here are just a few of the benefits:
- Limit interruptions. There is no need to handle each crisis as an independent event. With a business continuity plan, small businesses can standardize their disruption response to minimize downtime. The less downtime, the less money lost.
- Lay out alternatives. There should always be a Plan B if a small business has to close its doors, reduce its hours or limit its capacity. For instance, if a salon is closed for a month due to Covid-19, it should have a way to use telecommunication, stay in touch with its clientele and allow customers to continue booking future appointments. That way, revenue is ready for a quick restart once the business reopens.
- Empower employees . Business continuity planning ensures every employee is on the same page for how to handle a crisis. With a set protocol, employees know how to carry on with their jobs, ensuring consistency and giving them peace of mind.
The first step in business continuity planning is to identify internal challenges. For instance, is your current infrastructure helping or hindering your resilience? While there are several factors that can contribute to a crisis — like economic volatility, staff safety and/or government advisories — a business's processes shouldn't be one of them.
That said, many organizations continue to rely on outdated tools and systems that compound crises. For instance, some businesses were not able to easily transfer to a remote, socially-distanced world. To lay a foundation for business continuity, businesses must prioritize digitizing their processes and systems.
Related: 5 Ways to Help Your Small Business Survive During the Pandemic
Digitize before the next disaster
During early pandemic-related shutdowns, many small businesses discovered that their pen-and-paper systems made it difficult to respond quickly to necessary changes. Analog-only business management presents several problems. Information that lives in only one location can only be accessed physically from that location — if it's lost or destroyed, it's gone forever. It's also difficult to gain insights from that data regarding reporting, payroll, and the customer database.
By modernizing paper-only methods with digital solutions, businesses can eliminate internal bottlenecks and gain access to important information anytime, anywhere. Customers can schedule appointments and communicate even when doors are closed, and employees benefit by being able to do things like view their schedules and stay up to date.
Digitization doesn't need to be an enterprise-grade investment, either. By implementing all-in-one solutions such as business management software, small businesses can digitize their operations with ease. The right software can make business continuity planning simple and affordable, and the best time to start planning is now.
Small businesses need to be ready for the next disruption, whether it's a natural disaster, a burglary or a data breach. By modernizing and digitizing operations, small businesses can take advantage of the digital revolution without breaking the bank.
Related: Are You a Small Business Owner or an Entrepreneur?
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Prepare for the Unexpected: 4 Steps for Creating a Business Continuity Plan
by Jen Crompton | Updated Aug. 5, 2022 - First published on May 18, 2022
Image source: Getty Images
If we learned anything in 2020, it’s that business disruptions can happen in the blink of an eye, and we must be prepared to pivot. While only Nostradamus could have predicted the depth and breadth of the impact of the 2020 pandemic, it's more evident than ever to all businesses that continuity planning is necessary to navigate the unexpected.
Overview: What is a business continuity plan?
Business continuity is about maintaining business functions or quickly resuming regular functions if a major disruption occurs. The disruption could result from an act of nature, a fire, or a more technical cause such as cybercrime or a malicious attack on a company’s technology infrastructure.
A business continuity plan provides a roadmap that outlines procedures and instructions an organization should follow if a disaster occurs. It focuses on continuing business operations as smoothly as possible.
It's important to note that a business disaster plan and a disaster recovery plan both differ from the continuity plan. However, these plans are like siblings. While each is separate, a business disaster and recovery plan are often included in the continuity plan; they work cohesively.
3 benefits of having a business continuity plan
A business continuity plan gives an organization the best possible chance to survive the unexpected while protecting processes, assets, human resources, stakeholders, and other business aspects.
While not all disasters give a warning or can be predicted, preparedness to face the unexpected will help manage the situation and assist with a speedier recovery. Building a business continuity plan provides benefits well beyond disaster preparedness.
1. Decreases disruption
Any disaster will likely disrupt your processes. You'll experience downtime and will need to activate backup plans to return to full functionality. A business continuity plan recognizes these disruptions and determines what is acceptable, aiming to reduce disruptions and downtime as much as possible.
2. Offers peace of mind
Even if your business doesn’t have to activate a continuity plan, having one provides peace of mind. It offers a sense of security and calm, knowing the team will be ready to jump into action when a disruption occurs.
3. Lessens the losses
The shorter the downtime, the less the losses. When a business encounters a disruption, it experiences losses on many levels. These include financial, legal, and potential damage to reputation and customer perception. While it’s not foolproof, a plan will help navigate those tricky times and hopefully lessen any potential losses in revenue, trust, and perception.
How to create a business continuity plan
Getting started with a business continuity plan is about gaining a high-level understanding of your company, its functions, and how they work together. Continuity planning should be completed over time and include a team of contributors from all parts of your organization.
Follow these four steps to create an effective plan.
1. Identify the scope and critical business areas
Start by interviewing others within your organization who've experienced a disaster. Find out how they handled it. What were the wins, and what were the losses? What actions succeeded, and what steps were overlooked? Getting a secondhand perspective may help ensure the scope covers all areas and considers other perspectives.
2. Identify critical functions and dependencies
Business continuity addresses more than just IT and technology-enabled processes, so it must consider all critical business functions such as human resources, operations, public relations, and other key areas. Since all businesses run differently, the vital functions may vary, and resources may be allocated differently .
After identifying critical functions, note codependencies and understand how business functions work together and what is required to keep those processes up and running.
3. Determine acceptable downtime
Remember the plan’s objective is to keep essential business processes running and minimize disruptions and downtime. So for each critical business function, figure out how much downtime is acceptable. You'll base that number on the dependencies of other essential functions and forecasting the effects on cash flow and revenue during various durations and severity levels.
Ideally, the answer to acceptable downtime is none. But realistically, how much downtime could be tolerated without a total breakdown? Run a risk assessment and business impact analysis to understand the overall impact of business disruption for all functions. Then, create the plan based on what is critical, identifying those functions that may have more flexibility and less impact.
4. Create the plan to maintain operations
To create the plan, pull together a task force with representatives from each critical business function. This ensures each function has what it needs and that input from those perspectives are factored into the plan.
Best practices when creating a business continuity plan
A continuity plan will only be as effective as its implementation. Follow these best practices to ensure the plan can be implemented if necessary.
Ensure the plan makes sense to everyone involved, and it's all-encompassing. Ensure business teams have the training and education needed to react and follow the plan if required.
Also, consider conducting a gap analysis to optimize the plan and avoid any issues. It's impossible to plan for every possible scenario, but give it your best shot to cover as much as possible when planning. After a review, your initial plan may require a few iterations and may even need a backup plan -- and even a backup to the backup. This is expected. Your plan will likely always be a work in progress as situations change.
No one wants to pull out the business continuity plan only to discover it can't be implemented. Run your plan through a few layers of feedback and analysis to ensure feasibility. Create contingencies where needed, and ensure necessary resources will be available if a disaster occurs.
Again, business continuity plans are often pulled off the shelf during times of unpredictability and uncertainty. Leave plenty of space within the plan to adapt as you go based on changing circumstances. Ensure the plan includes a way to monitor these potential changes and implement changes on the fly.
Don’t let the disruption be worse than the disaster
A company’s future depends on people and processes. The ability to effectively handle the unexpected and navigate challenging situations internally will have a positive effect externally.
How a situation is handled will ultimately affect every aspect of your organization -- from your employees to your customers. It will even affect your market value, level of customer confidence, and overall reputation. The last thing you want is for the disruption to be worse than the actual disaster.
So plan for the unexpected. Even if your continuity plan is never activated, you will always know you are ready.
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Safeguarding supply: How Axis ensures supply chain business continuity
When devastation strikes, supply chains suffer
In April 2016, a series of earthquakes struck Kumamoto in Japan, including a massive 7.0 magnitude mainshock. The tragic earthquakes resulted in loss of life, injury and significant damage to infrastructure and buildings. One of the buildings devastated by the earthquake was the factory responsible for producing the vast majority of the image sensor chips used by the world’s cameras. Though the factory was back to 100% capacity in November of the same year, the short-term disruption in the supply chain was significant.
More recently, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread disruption to continuous supply chains, including the technology industry’s. Of particular focus has been the global shortage of semiconductors, the foundation for every piece of technology, from mobile phones to cars to surveillance cameras. The issues caused by the pandemic have been amplified by extreme weather – a drought in Taiwan , snow in Texas – and in some sectors the effects as set to last for some time yet. The market recovery as the pandemic eases has subsequently caused a spike in demand across all sectors, putting more pressure on supply chains.
The importance of business continuity in the supply chain is heightened in an ever-more globalized economy, where components come from suppliers in many different countries. Whether natural disasters or extreme weather, a global pandemic, geopolitical tension or simply shortage of raw materials, it is the responsibility of product manufacturers to ensure supply chain business continuity through any level of disruption.
A continuous supply chain decades in the making
Building a robust global supply chain strategy isn’t the work of a moment. Rather it is the result of diligent research and planning. For Axis, this is a process that has lasted for more than 25 years.
As Ulrika Magnusson, Global Supply Chain Director at Axis explains, the work involved in creating and managing a continuous supply chain is never complete: “As we innovate and create new products and solutions that meet changing customer demands, so our supply chain needs to reflect and support that innovation. This requires extremely close liaison between our research and development and supply chain teams: the greater foresight we have over products in development, the better-placed we are to source the component suppliers required.”
Given the rigorous criteria and quality standards Axis applies to every link in its supply chain, the job of finding and appointing new suppliers takes time. The Axis Supplier Evaluation Framework, Supplier Code of Conduct – which all suppliers have to sign - and ongoing supplier audits ensure that all suppliers are screened in respect of the environment, working conditions and human rights.
As Magnusson continues, “Such rigor in selecting and evaluating suppliers is absolutely essential to having confidence that they meet our exacting standards. Indeed, we view our suppliers’ supply chains as part of our own, and a fundamental part of ensuring business continuity in our supply chain. This is why we’ll audit aspects such as disposal of waste produced within the process of component manufacture and where raw material come from, to ensure that no conflict minerals find their way into our products. Where we find suppliers that meet most but not all of our selection criteria, we’ll often work with them to improve those aspects that are currently holding them back. This is often a worthwhile investment, as opposed to starting the sourcing again.”
Geographic location of suppliers is also an important consideration, for a number of reasons. With an increasingly volatile climate, physical supply is of greater risk of disruption through severe weather events. Therefore, sourcing suppliers closer to the point of manufacture is useful, and has additional environmental benefits of reduced transportation.
Second sourcing is key
One fundamental approach to ensuring a continuous supply chain is second sourcing. As the name suggests, this simply means using more than a single supplier for any specific component. Wherever possible, Axis will find more than a single supplier for components in its products.
Where that isn’t possible, Axis will ensure that either it or the supplier carries a buffer stock to secure supply can be maintained even if the chain is being disrupted. In the case of particularly critical components, Axis will often hold a stock which can support manufacturing for 9-12 months ahead. This not only protects supply in the case of disruption for any reason, but also in the case of sudden spikes in industry or customer demand.
Per Ädelroth, Vice President, Operations & Chief Supply Chain Officer at Axis, explains: “If there’s a sudden increase in demand for one specific product or category, that can quickly create a bottleneck in supply. Component manufacturers clearly need time to ramp up increased capacity, and existing stocks can be quickly exhausted. Such spikes in demand can be difficult to forecast: there have definitely been occasions when strong customer demand in all regions globally have created pinch-points in supply. It might be regarded as a nice problem to have, but it’s obviously an issue we need to be well-placed to address to keep partners and customers happy.”
In these situations, an added benefit of the close relationship Axis enjoys with its partners means that it can arrange for suppliers with a surplus of a specific component to support those with a shortage. In this way, supply chain business continuity can be maintained across regions.
Ultimate control through collaborative manufacture
Axis products are created through collaborative manufacturing, where Axis works in close partnership with a small number of manufacturers in North America, Europe and Asia. Nerzesa Dzinovic, Manager for Sourcing Electronics and Manufacturing at Axis, explains how collaborative the manufacturing process is: “As with our component suppliers, we have rigorous evaluation criteria for our manufacturing partners. And product manufacture is a true partnership: Axis employees work alongside those from the manufacturer, and we define and control the production process and protocols. Real-time data from the manufacturing plant also allows us to identify any potential issues early.”
Again, the location of manufacture and also the product Configuration and Logistic Centers (CLCs) are chosen to be close to the markets they serve, reducing the impact of transportation and risk of disruption. Manufacture of popular, high-value and critical products is also split across more than one factory to ensure supply should production at one be disturbed.
Navigating global politics
It’s a reality that politics and relationships between nations states – both positive and negative - have an impact on manufacturers of any products. It’s a frequently changing environment: two states that have previously enjoyed a positive trading relationship may suddenly fall into economic conflict, with an associated impact on companies selling into those markets.
As Magnusson, explains, geopolitical tensions highlight the need to look at multiple suppliers of product components: “As a Swedish company, we’re fortunate that our country doesn’t fall into trade conflict with other nations very often! However, our products contain components from numerous countries globally, and frequently international trade agreements – such as the U.S. Trade Agreements Act – define designated and non-designated countries from which products or their components can be sourced. Again, therefore, it’s critical that we have suppliers of the same component in geographically diverse locations.”
Not all components are equal
As part of its sourcing process, Axis has a classification scheme for components in its products which relates to their importance to the end product, and which impacts the sourcing – and second sourcing – of supply. Dzinovic again, “Nuts and bolts are pretty standard and easily replaced, but with a component such as an image sensor – around which the end product is essentially completely designed – a lack of availability due to any reason can be critical.”
Being in complete control of the entire product design and manufacturing process allows us to respond quickly to serious issues.
Which is why natural disasters, such as the Kumamoto earthquakes, were such a learning experience for all involved. It also demonstrates the value of the ‘Axis One’ approach, as explained by Ädelroth: “Being in complete control of the entire product design and manufacturing process – from R&D to configuration – allows us to respond quickly to serious issues. For example, if we need to redesign a key part of a product to allow for a change in critical component sourcing, we can do that seamlessly.”
Maintaining supply chain business continuity today, with one eye on the future
The security industry is fast-moving, with technological innovations allowing for the continual development of new, more advanced products. The Axis supply chain team works in close collaboration with the company’s Research and Development function to understand the future product roadmap and ensure that component suppliers are being sourced to support it.
Ädelroth concludes: “Ultimately, Axis is a company focused on meeting the needs of our customers. On the one hand that demands reliable supply of current products, while also designing the products that will deliver against future needs. Sourcing suppliers that can support the pace of product development, within an ever-changing environment, while rigorously adhering to our own standards and those which govern international trade and manufacturing, is essential in delivering the company’s vision.”
insight, empowered employees and smart use of technology. The Bank is committed to provide uninterrupted services at all times and will make all efforts to maintain the confidence levels of all our customers. Axis Bank has a robust and well defined Business Continuity Management (BCM) Model. The plan is in line with the guidelines issued by RBI ...
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Where that isn't possible, Axis will ensure that either it or the supplier carries a buffer stock to secure supply can be maintained even if the chain is being disrupted. In the case of particularly critical components, Axis will often hold a stock which can support manufacturing for 9-12 months ahead. This not only protects supply in the ...