As you plan the path forward for your organization, business continuity should be considered throughout the process so that there is less chance of unexpected events sabotaging your gameplan and leaving you sidelined.
- 85% of business continuity programs changing
- The relationship between business continuity & strategic planning
- Mission statement & goal development
- Environmental assessment
- Strategy delineation
- Plan launch
- Continued monitoring
- Email continuity
85% of business continuity programs changing
Throughout the first three months of 2015, UK business continuity resource Continuity Central conducted a poll of business continuity executives. More than 200 people participated in the survey. The vast majority (83%) were from large businesses with workforces of over 250. The two most represented countries were the US (36%) and the United Kingdom (25%).
When asked for the extent of adaptation the professionals expected to occur throughout the year, 85% said that there would be some amount of revision:
- 53% – small adjustments
- 33% – large adjustments
- 15% – no adjustments.
Clearly business continuity is in a general state of flux, with one out of every three companies making major changes to their approach in 2015.
The relationship between business continuity & strategic planning
Business continuity is generally considered to only be useful as a way to defend your business and keep it running when a problem occurs. However, business continuity considerations are also useful when developing your long-range approach.
Strategic planning is a way for your company to thoroughly outline and explore how you will accomplish your core objectives. It’s a roadmap, essentially. Here is how business continuity can be a valuable addition to the five basic stages of strategic planning – as discussed by Paul Kirvan, the secretary of the Business Continuity Institute’s United States branch.
Mission statement & goal development
Once you have clearly delineated your mission (what you intend to do) and vision (what values you intend to employ to accomplish your mission), it’s time to craft specific objectives.
“These goals are used to develop the organization’s business objectives,” explains Kirvan, “such as achieving revenue goals or increasing market share.”
Business continuity is usually not considered a part of this. However, it is obviously a goal of any business to keep running no matter what happens. In fact, you might even consider it the highest priority – if your organization shuts down, your entire strategic plan could be sabotaged.
Just look at the case of Sony Pictures. Now clearly, most companies are not going to have to undergo such a devastating incident (given the extreme destruction by the intruders, widely believed to be North Korean cybersoldiers), but the company’s recovery process took about 90 days, certainly distracting from any new development.
“Many organizations assume they will not experience a business-threatening incident,” suggests Kirvan. “Logically, this assumption is highly risky, but it’s pretty much the norm.”
Now that you know what your objectives are, it’s time to consider the landscape. You want to look at your company itself, the segment in which you will compete on the market, and any forces beyond the control of the firm. SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) is used to get a full sense of the inside of your company. Kirvan recommends the parameters described in the Michael Porter book The Five Competitive Forces that Shape Strategy to consider how your company may be influenced from the outside.
It’s a good idea to create two business continuity documents – a business impact report and a risk report – when conducting your SWOT assessment.
Now that you know what you want to do and what you are up against both inside the company and outside it, you can outline specific tactics you will use to accomplish your goals – such as automated email backup . Three elements of strategy that Porter considers essential to most organizations’ success are cost leadership, differentiation, and focus.
“Business continuity activities can add value to each of these strategies by identifying situations that could negatively affect the firm’s ability to achieve its goals,” Kirvan argues.
Essentially at this point you are ready to start considering how action will be taken. You must figure out all the specifics, such as how much money is needed and how many members of your staff will work on each project.
As you are launching the plan and putting your various strategies into place, keep business continuity in mind. You want to think about what might stop you from fully deploying the tactics that will help you accomplish your objectives. What are the risks?
You can’t just “set it and forget it.” Rather, you are establishing a system that must be monitored and revised as time goes by.
“This includes setting up metrics for evaluating performance,” says Kirvan.
As an integral part of strategic planning, business continuity must be evaluated periodically as well so that the value it provides effectively contributes to the overall mission of the business.
Fundamental to the business continuity aspect of strategic planning is email.
For many organizations, email is the lifeblood of their business and one of the most business-critical systems. Yet too few protect it adequately against disaster. Not only is email their primary medium for communications, but it also serves as the primary document management system, a searchable repository of vital business data. The problem is that on-premise email servers can fail; data can become corrupted; power can go out for hours or days; offices can burn down; and natural or man-made disasters can strike.
Would losing all your emails be a threat to your business continuity and general trajectory? How long could your firm survive without email and the data attached to it? Protect your business in just two easy steps by signing up for a free 15-day trial now.