The full-scale transition to remote work has created countless challenges for businesses of all sizes across the globe, from managing disparate teams to ensuring employees have the tools needed to continue work from afar. No business has been immune. After weeks, and now months, of navigating what some have called the “new normal,” many key learnings have emerged. But perhaps the biggest lesson that many organizations have learned is the critical need for a business continuity plan.
Business continuity plans provide a clear path forward to keep businesses running smoothly during disruptive events. If you’re a small business or a startup, you may think that you don’t need a business continuity plan, as your organization is lean and agile, and can react quickly to these temporary disruptions. However, be cautious of the, “that will never happen to us” or, “we’ll figure it out when we have to” approach.
As we all continue to navigate this pandemic, now is the time to apply learnings and ensure preparedness for future events.
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Here are four things to consider for your company’s business continuity plans
When employees suddenly need to work remotely, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based business tools are critical (from collaboration and finance to file storage systems) to ensure access to day-to-day operations.
The good news is, adoption of SaaS continues to grow rapidly year over year, so many organizations are already ahead of the game. But, it’s also critical to consider additional elements like sharing credentials remotely to gain access, as needed. Continuity plans should take this into account and consider a multi-tier approach to supporting business operations from afar.
Access isn’t limited to software. Organizations should also consider physical access to devices. Do you and the rest of your team members have access to computer or other tech inventory needed to keep the business running? Ensure that you have the right business equipment and suppliers in place to source devices whenever and wherever needed.
Capacity and bandwidth
When thinking about a business continuity plan, it’s also important to consider what kind of emergency would cause your product usage to spike. If your product is centered around digital transformation, then chances are, you experienced a dramatic surge during the pandemic. Your business continuity plan should include ways to manage capacity and scalability, and ensure you have the ability to run your product at 10X the traffic, if needed.
Not every organization has company-issued devices. Many organizations today operate in a “bring your own device” (BYOD) environment. If your business is relying on BYOD, ensure you have the right security tools and protocols in place to keep information secure. Now is the time to consider deploying new systems like multi-factor authentication or password managers to ensure better security protocols are in place.
While startups and small businesses may be familiar operating in a dispersed and flexible environment, it’s important to remember that security begins at home. Remote workers can introduce new security vulnerabilities, not only because of the different devices and networks accessing company data, but also because of poor security behaviors from employees.
In the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, phishing is noted as the top threat action against small businesses.
Ensure that you establish employee awareness of these increasing threats, and that your business continuity plan accounts for ways to keep your organization secure during disruptions and periods of increased risk.
People and culture
The importance of consideration for people and culture during times of business interruption cannot be overstated. Keeping open lines of communication and transparency during this time is critical. Providing ways for employees to stay connected, by offering virtual office hours, for example, can boost productivity and morale.
Finally, every business continuity plan should include succession planning. Consider if something happens where you’re no longer at the helm of your company (even for a short period of time), who will step in to assume the role and continue operations? This future-focused planning is critical to outline in advance.
Business continuity plans have proven to be a lifeline for businesses during disruptive events such as COVID-19. No matter the size of your business, now is the time to evaluate what has worked and what has not for your organization during the global pandemic, and use those learnings to prepare for the next potential event.
While this is by no means a complete list of readiness requirements, this list provides a starting point for business continuity plans to ensure you’re prepared in the future.