JMD Systemics is here to help you
With the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic, not to mention natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes, business continuity management has quickly come to the forefront as more and more enterprises are being forced to invoke their disaster recovery plans.
If concerns for business survival, damaged reputation, and eroding investor confidence are not enough to convince you it is time to get on the bandwagon, then how about the growing pressure from government regulations?
JMD Systemics, a division of King Global Earth and Environmental Sciences Corporation, offers you seven concrete steps they can take to ensure that your business or corporation is amply prepared to face any disruption ahead.
Step 1: Be proactive rather than reactive.
Being proactive rather than reactive is always cheaper in the long run. Work through the possible disaster scenarios ahead of time so that you have an idea of what might happen to your business or company operations and what steps you will need to take to counteract the disruption.
You are going to spend a lot less money when the real disaster hits because you will have all your ducks in a row. Think about implementing an enterprise-wide virus prevention package now. This will be less expensive than either trying to restore your operations or trying to rebuild your business later on.
Step 2: Make your business continuity plan part of your change management culture.
Do not leave your plan gathering dust on the back shelf. It needs to be a living document to remain viable. If business models change or business processes undergo reengineering or key emergency contacts no longer work for the organization, your plan needs to be updated.
Business continuity management needs to become part of your corporate culture, part of your change management process.
When changes occur, every employee needs to automatically ask themselves how it changes their part of the business continuity plan. With greater emphasis on regulatory compliance, it is not enough to have a plan and policies in place. You have to demonstrate that they are workable.
Step 3: Aim for the quickest recovery you can afford.
When disaster strikes your company, your competitors will jump at the chance to fill the void. A strong business continuity plan will ensure that you do not lose market share in the event of a disruption. Especially if yours is a Web-based operation, you need to get up and running again as fast as possible.
Business impact analysis is one of the key components for determining if your business continuity plan is workable. Look closely at your recovery procedures and see how long it will really take you to get back up and running following a disruption.
Step 4: Routinely test your plan to keep it current.
Test, test and test. The tests you do today may be critical to your business or company’s survival. It is all part of making sure that your plan stays current. Those tests can be as simple as asking yourself a few well-pointed questions:
Is our crisis management procedures manual readily accessible to all employees?
Have we looked at it lately to make sure that the contact-in-case-of-emergency phone list is current?
Do we know when to call in local authorities and who has the authority to make that decision?
How well do we control vendor and visitor access to our business place(s)?
Are our security procedures reflect what we really expect our employees to do in an emergency?
Step 5: Tailor your business continuity investments to likely threats and key priorities.
It is all about balancing protection against costs and survival. Recent events have made us think of Covid-19 as our foremost threat, but there are many other threats that are far more commonplace: employee or non-employee workplace violence, labor actions and disputes, cyberattacks (including computer viruses and denial of service), hoaxes, and industrial espionage. Your plan needs to focus on those issues most likely to cause disruption.
While employees are considered a business or company’s greatest asset, they can also be its biggest threat. Eighty percent of business disruptions are caused by employees, whether maliciously or accidentally.
It could be deliberate sabotage, such as e-mailing a competitor your vendor list. Or it could be simple carelessness in leaving confidential company information at the shared printer for anyone to see. It is important to instill awareness into employees as to how their actions can impact and disrupt normal operations.
Physical plant security is another issue to consider. Does the physical security plan include instructions for contacting local fire, police, and rescue authorities? Do employees know where to report for work in case their usual facility is unavailable? Do you have technology in place to allow them to work from home? Can another facility provide space and resources in the event of a disaster at either one location or your main business place?
It is important to realize that it is neither possible nor cost effective to try to protect everything. You need to examine your operations and determine what you really need to survive. Can you fall back to data that is more than a week old? Or is it vital that certain information be backed up every two hours? How many employees need to be trained in redundant skills should another facility or department be put out of commission? How vulnerable to drastic workforce reductions are you?
Step 6: Check that all your plan components sync with each other.
To effectively respond to a business disruption, your business continuity plan needs to incorporate all the components required for your successful recovery: your data, your workforce, your facilities, your networks, even your vendors and suppliers. You must have procedures in place to ensure that events occur in the right sequence to get you back up and running as promptly as possible. It is a delicate balance, but a crucial one.
It does not help to have backup data with nowhere to restore it, or have a place to restore it but no way to connect to it. Closely examine your recovery procedures to guarantee that all the elements of the plan truly work in sync with each other.
Remember that your vendors and business partners are integral participants in your business continuity plan too. There is a growing trend among enterprises to insist that vendors demonstrate the viability of their own business continuity plans as a contingency of doing business with them.
Public reaction can sometimes make or break your recovery, too. If you have employees speaking to the media about a disaster, make sure they are trained in media relations. Otherwise, they may inadvertently say something that could create a competitive disadvantage, erode customer confidence, or place the company in a compromising situation.
Step 7: Be cognizant of how regional disasters can dictate priorities.
Let’s face it: In case of a flood, hurricane, or other regional disaster, getting a factory or a retail store up and running is going to take a back seat to hospitals, police, fire stations, and other facilities focused on citizen safety and security. Know your local emergency response organization and what actions they are likely to take during a response so that you can plan accordingly.
When building your contingency plan, think about alternate locations that can pick up the workload outside the affected region. Do not put your disaster recovery solution too close to your main operation. And make sure the alternate location is on a different power grid from the disaster site.
When looking at business continuity, do not think of it as a plan that you review once a year. Business continuity management needs to become ingrained in your corporate culture. It is amazing how little it costs to change the corporate mindset and how big the potential payoff can be in the case of preparedness for disaster.
Do not to spend more money than you really need to. Weigh protection costs against your company’s ability to survive the disaster or business disruption. Do not feel you have to protect everything. And rehearse the plan on a regular basis.
While the goal of a business continuity plan is to get you back up and running as quickly as possible, your vigilance and diligence before the fact may even help you prevent some disasters and business disruptions from ever occurring.
Be vigilant and remember:
JMD Systemics is here to help you
Michel Ouellette JMD, ll.l., ll.m.
A division of King Global earth and Environmental Sciences Corporation
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