Having a business continuity plan isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. If disaster strikes, you have to get back up and running as soon as possible. As a small business, you can’t afford downtime or its negative impact on your operations and your customers.

That’s why business continuity management is critical. It looks beyond dealing with the emergency itself—whether that’s a natural disaster or cyberattack—and takes into account what is required to get everything up and running again. Business continuity management is more than just a risk management process and data backup, it’s part of having a sustainable, reliable and thriving business.

Benefits of a superior business continuity management plan

Let’s look at some of the key benefits of having a superior business continuity plan.

Reducing financial risk

Consider this—according to a recent survey, 80% of businesses require a guaranteed uptime of 99.99% from their cloud service vendors. This correlates to about an hour of downtime annually, which can cost a business as much as $260,000. The further you can minimize any downtime, the less risk you run of losing money.

Preserving your reputation

Your reputation is on the line. In addition to operating losses, repeated occurrences of downtime can cause erosion of your brand. Your customers and partners could lose confidence in your ability to serve them, damaging your business relationships and referrals.

Delivering on expectations for recovery

With a comprehensive business continuity plan, you can also enable the recovery of mission-critical systems in the agreed timeframe. This sets expectations for your staff, your customers, and others. Having this well documented puts a threshold on what’s an acceptable timeframe to get back up and going. According to a recent ransomware report, 96% of businesses with a plan in place fully recover operations.

Complying with legal obligations

Another benefit is compliance with any legal or statutory obligations. Depending on your industry or the industries you serve, you may have to meet certain guidelines for business continuity. For example, financial firms have more and different regulations than other types of businesses.

Even if you are not legally obligated to meet certain standards, proving to stakeholders that you are running your business responsibly is vital to sustainability.

Offering a competitive edge

Not all your competitors will have the same robust continuity plan that you have. This could be something very important to your customers. Use this to your advantage as a strong differentiator that you have well-designed plan to deal with any disruption quickly and effectively.

How SMBs can build or enhance their business continuity plan

If you don’t have a plan, it’s time to work on one. If you do have one, it can be optimized. For help, contemplate these tips:

Business continuity is NOT the same as disaster recovery

Many companies use these terms interchangeably, but they aren’t the same. Disaster recovery focuses on restoring IT and technical operations. Business continuity is much more broad and detailed and usually includes IT disaster recovery. It outlines procedures and processes to preserve and restore business operations after a disaster, including facilities, communications, human resources, partners, customer service, and more. You need both types of plans ready to go.

Remember your plan should be fluid

Business continuity plans aren’t something you can create and then forget about. Many things will change that will need to be addressed or updated in your plan. You may add more infrastructure or need to comply with new laws. You should revisit your plan regularly to ensure it is still relevant to your current business model and customer commitments. As your company changes, it might be useful for an IT consultant to provide an assessment.

Test your business continuity plan

A plan is great on paper, but what about real life? You need to accommodate testing of your plan, which could include:

  • Table-top exercises: Your team goes through the plan looking for gaps
  • Structured walk-throughs: Every team member does a step-by-step review of what they would do and how to do it
  • Disaster simulation testing: Your team simulates an environment where a real disaster has occurred

Communicate your plan with all

A business continuity plan must be shared with all your employees. It needs to be discussed regularly so your entire team understands its importance.

If you’d like to optimize or build your business continuity plan, you may want help from an IT services and technology provider.

At ISG Technology, we have over seven decades of experience and serve a variety of industries with thousands of clients all over the world. Contact us today to see how we can serve you.