Contrary to popular opinion, disaster management and business continuity are two very different things. Disaster management bothers with only dealing with the inevitable. Securing the business data in a secondary system and storage is one example. What if the data so stored is unable to be retrieved for the benefit of the company in the aftermath of the disaster? This will undo all the time and money spent on securing it.
The data is safe, but not immediately usable. A break in continuity of the business has been affected. Similarly, insurance from natural disasters is a good way of limiting the financial losses but it will only give you depreciated value of your assets while your business may face serious problems.
Business continuity on the other hand aims at pulling off the business in the most trying times. The momentum of doing the business might slow down but there will be continuity in the delivery of services.
Why business continuity planning matters
The real test of a business’s strength lies in its ability to continue functioning even in the most adverse and trying of times. Continuity of a business in crisis wins over the confidence of the customers that eventually translates into growing goodwill of the company in better times to come.
If a company ensures delivery of it services during adverse times even at an extra cost, it will surely win a loyal following in the future too. For example if a tornado or typhoon strikes a suburb or countryside and little foods are available in the stores, and a company is able to deliver its food packages to the location, will it not do credit to the efforts of the company?
Using technology to boost business continuity
Technology is your buddy in the world of business continuity. Innovations like cloud computing can keep your data secure and usable with relative ease. The technology even enables electronic storage without the requirement of big storage space in virtually mini-devices with vast space. Greater bandwidth in optical fibers provides more speedy transfer of data from one location to the other.
Reasons why organizations fail at business continuity
In greener times, when all is well, the businesspersons often miss out on preparing for bad times. Failure usually starts with not giving enough thought to logistics strategy. For example, an alternate channel of communication with the vendors and customers is essential. For those relying on physical distribution of goods and services there should be means of connecting with and supplying the goods to them.
All this begins with creating a secure work place for the work site and work team to insulate them from the disaster. Also, an alternate work site, an alternate team and a list of potential alternate vendors should be prepared to smooth over jittery times.
Unrealistic solutions, improper testing, and the obsolescence of the plans are three causes that cause the failure of the businesses even when they have a business continuity plan at hand.
Ensuring business continuity
The first step in the direction of business continuity plan is awareness and that begins with assessing the potential threats and risks they pose to the business. If a business is located in a coastal region where a tornado had struck some 100 years ago, a business establishment will have to make plans to deal with such eventuality.
Identify key business areas and focus yourself in securing those. Make a list of equipment and supplies essential for your business. Stock up on them. You must list various human and natural circumstances that might affect the business and chalk a plan to mitigate such adverse effects.
Involvement of employees and free feedback from them is essential in working out a plan. The idea should not just be surviving a disaster, it should be continuing business in the toughest of times.