Business Continuity – 2020 and Beyond
What Does Business Continuity Really Mean?
Remember slow news days?
Yeah, me neither.
We live in turbulent, unpredictable times. Between wildfires, hurricanes, floods, windstorms, earthquakes, cyberattacks, and massive power outages, all kinds of disasters, emergencies, and disruptive events seem to be happening with increasing frequency around the world. Not to mention pandemics, economic crises, protests, civil unrest…
It’s a lot—too much, really—for anyone to keep up with. Some days, you just want to crawl under the covers, tune out, and watch 90 Day Fiancé.
But organizations that provide essential services and critical infrastructure don’t have that option. Nor do enterprises. When your job is to keep people safe, connected, or informed—when every interruption represents five or six figures, or more, of lost revenue—you need to remain online and available during a disaster or any number of disasters happening simultaneously.
After all, when the dust settles, it could be your organization making headlines, either for navigating the moment successfully or letting your stakeholders down when they needed you most.
The key to weathering any kind of crisis—and coming out on the other side with your bottom line and trust in your organization intact—is business continuity planning.
Business Continuity Doesn’t Mean What It Used To
For years, the term “business continuity planning” has meant more or less the same thing as disaster preparedness and recovery. Conventional wisdom is that organizations should have some kind of system in place to get back to normal quickly if a major disruption occurs.
In the 2020s, however, it’s becoming increasingly clear that disruptions are no longer “ifs” but “whens,” and the answer to “when” is “all the time.” The very idea of stable, “normal” existence is a thing of the past. Business continuity is no longer about preparing for and recovering from specific, one-time events, but about maintaining service in an environment of constant change and upheaval.
4 Essentials for Business Continuity Planning in 2021 and Beyond
Adapting to this new reality demands thoughtful planning as well as a change in mindset throughout the organization. Here are a few essentials for getting started or updating your business continuity approach:
- Expect the unexpected. Today’s organizations need to face uncertainty head-on. That doesn’t mean throwing away forecasts and predictions entirely, but recognizing their limitations. No one can know the future, and believing otherwise is a recipe for failure.
Rather than focusing entirely on risk management, invest in resilience. Identify what you can and can’t plan for, along with the variables you can and can’t control. Prepare above and beyond your known risks, but also adopt measures and systems that will allow your organization to respond quickly in unforeseen circumstances.
- Build your business continuity team. Determine which members of your organization will be responsible for leading, developing, and coordinating business continuity and emergency response efforts.
Be sure all necessary organizational functions and levels are represented on the team. A typical business continuity team may include staff from the following departments:
– Executive Leadership
– Senior Management
– Human resources
– Accounting and Finance
– Customer Service
Additionally, consider the roles of your legal counsel, investors and financial stakeholders, and vendors, suppliers, and contractors. An effective business continuity plan is a coordinated team effort that serves everyone who matters to your organization, internally and externally.
- Create a detailed plan. Identify what processes, technologies, and individuals your organization needs to stay functional, then determine how you’ll ensure those elements stay functioning at all times.
Keep in mind that different kinds of crises demand different strategies:
- Amid a tropical storm, earthquake, or another natural disaster, for instance, you may need more than one backup power source or multiple teams operating in different locations.
- In the wake of a public health crisis, you’ll need to make sure your workforce can do their jobs virtually for an extended period of time.
- During a cybersecurity breach or active shooter event, you’ll need a reliable, secure method for transmitting timely information between affected and non-affected workers.
A good business continuity plan accounts for these possibilities and more, laying out overall goals as well as granular procedures by department and role.
- Think about your communication strategy. Perhaps most important to the success of a business continuity plan is communication. Members of the team need to be notified of disruptions immediately and get information out to others as soon as possible.
Don’t wait until disaster strikes to nail down your strategy and craft your crisis communication messaging. It’s a good idea to have templates and automated notification systems ready in advance.
Be sure your communication is accurate, relevant, and timed appropriately. Consider the audience: What do they need to know, and when? Does every message offer new information? Keep in mind that too many details can be just as unproductive as too few details. Make sure every notification gets to the point quickly, and keep the language direct and unambiguous.
In addition to internal processes, optimize external communication as well. You’ll need to have systems in place for managing both outbound and inbound calls, emails, and other messages from customers, clients, subscribers, or members of your community.
Business Continuity with Liveops
This article is only a brief introduction to business continuity planning. If you’re looking for more detailed guidance, or need to ensure your customer service and communication functions remain available during any kind of disruption, we’re here to help.
Organizations of all kinds trust Liveops for business continuity. Our team has supported numerous private companies as well as government agencies, nonprofit entities, and humanitarian organizations such as the American Red Cross. We have unparalleled experience navigating disasters ranging from Hurricane Katrina to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Our dispersed workforce model connects callers to highly-skilled, qualified professionals, regardless of where or how long an emergency situation is occurring. And because they work on-demand, our agents can quickly mobilize to massively scale call-taking capacity within as little as two hours.
To learn more about our business continuity services or get help developing your plan, contact us.