We hope that all businesses now understand the importance of having a strong disaster recovery program in place to safeguard their data from natural disasters, catastrophic hardware failure, and human error. In the past, we’ve also talked about the business continuity planning process and how it goes beyond disaster recovery to protect an entire organization (not just its data) from catastrophic disruption.

In this article, we’re going to dispel some common misconceptions about business continuity planning, explore its practical benefits, and demonstrate why it’s crucial to helping established businesses achieve long-term health and stability.

Business Continuity Protects Core Business Operations

The first and primary reason to be vigilant about business continuity planning is to ensure that your organization weathers any catastrophe.

Today′s challenging business environment is more complex than it’s been in years. With domestic businesses being saddled with compliance, security, and other risks, it has become increasingly important that every organization has an approach to operational resilience that covers all the possible risk vectors.

Business insurance doesn’t cover the loss of clients during an extended period of downtime, nor will it compensate for any work delays or canceled project work. Data backups, another common surrogate for continuity planning, could quickly become inaccessible during certain disasters. Even cloud computing won’t necessarily save you from disaster, despite what some cloud vendors may say.

A comprehensive, risk-based continuity strategy is the only method for truly protecting your business’s operations.

Business Continuity Provides Competitive Advantage

There is a chronic misperception of business continuity as a cost on your balance sheet when in fact, the opposite is true. A comprehensive continuity plan provides long-term value for organizations that helps them beat the competition.

One way to highlight that value to decision-makers is to weave those continuity tactics deep into your business strategy so that they provide day-to-day value.

For example, by moving a portion of your staff to a secondary facility or alternative hot work site before catastrophe strikes, you can shorten commuting times for staff working in another location while also providing a backup place to work if something happens to your primary office.

32% of supply chain professionals worry about supply chain issues after the COVID-19 pandemic. This makes it an excellent time to take proactive steps to mitigate the risks that could damage your business now so that when the next disaster strikes, you’ll be in a position to capture market share from less prepared competitors.

Safeguard Your Business’s Reputation from Disaster

Reputation is critical to success in today’s competitive business landscape. The importance of reputation has been documented extensively. Here’s what we mean.

  • The Ponemon Institute found that 31% of respondents say they’d cut ties with an entity that had experienced a catastrophic data breach.
  • Research from the Reputation Institute found that business reputation is 2 to 3 times more important now than it was just a few decades ago.
  • Companies with bad reputations spend on average of 10% more per new employee hire
  • 58% of Fortune 500 executives believe reputation management should be a core part of every organization’s branding strategy.

Nothing is more damaging to your business than an extended period of downtime. When staff is unreachable, project deadlines get pushed, your team can’t respond to new business opportunities, and your business loses the reputation that it’s developed over years or decades.

A business continuity plan allows you to seamlessly serve customers under even the most challenging circumstances. This safeguards your brand reputation and will put your company on a shortlist of the dependable firms in your industry when a disaster strikes.

Integrate Regulatory Compliance Requirements

Business continuity planning is inescapable — though often overlooked — part of a comprehensive compliance effort.

FINRA/SEC, Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and other common compliance standards have clear provisions about what business continuity steps a business must take to be compliant. While the details of each standard unique emphasis vary, they mostly revolve around ensuring data availability, reporting standards,

Fundamentally, this means having backups for paper and digital information, regularly running financial and operational risk assessments, and alternate physical environments for staff to fall back to in the case of a disaster.

There are several areas where business continuity and regulatory compliance overlap that businesses tend to overlook.

  • Clear Lines of Communication
    Your firm must have clear lines of both internal and external communication when disaster strikes. This includes communicating the impact and length of the disruption, the state of their private data, and which steps are being taken to remediate the issue. It also means knowing how your organization will function if the standard lines of communication fail.
  • Documented Strategy
    In the case of some regulations, like SOX, your business simply will not get approved by an external auditor without a documented strategy. To meet that requirement, you’ll need to do the following: define the plan’s scope; identify critical functions that require redundancy; determine acceptable downtime for each of those functions, then outline how to operate the failover systems for each of those business functions.
  • Test and Maintain Your Strategy
    Your regulators don’t want to see you develop a plan and then let it grow dusty on the shelf. For that strategy to remain effective and to prove you’re taking business continuity seriously, you need to run quarterly tests to ensure your document reflects the state of your organization as it evolves.

Compliance can’t be tacked on to an existing continuity plan. It should be a foundational element on which your plan is built. To do that, integrate compliance requirements into your risk assessment and business impact analysis (BIA) and make sure that every step supports your compliance goals.

If you’re curious about this topic, we have another article that goes into deeper detail on the subject of business continuity planning for regulated industry. 

Develop Business Continuity Plan with Complete Network’s Help

For decades our virtual chief information officer (vCIO) team has been helping businesses in the financial services, insurance, banking, healthcare, and other highly regulated industries make informed decisions that mitigate risk and increase operational resiliency.

If your business in Albany, New York, Charlotte, North Carolina, Savannah, Georgia, and Bluffton, South Carolina has a question about business continuity planning, our team would be happy to help. Reach out to us any time at 877 877 1840 and [email protected].

How To Supplement Your Internal IT Team.

In an ideal world, technology would be a consistent source of competitive advantage and benefit for small and midsized businesses. The reality is that many fail to realize that confidence.

Without the right resources and support, even a highly skilled technology team can become overwhelmed by the growing list of technology management duties. When important tasks get neglected, it creates ripple effects throughout an organization that damage productivity and efficiency.

The co-managed IT services model solves these problems by providing your existing IT team with all the support and resources they need to successfully plan, manage, and defend your network technology.

This guide covers:

  • • Aligning technology with business goals
  • • Reducing churn while preserving institutional knowledge
  • • Empowering your staff to maximize productivity
  • • Achieving the highest level of cybersecurity defense

Download it for free by filling out the form here.