Nobody could have predicted a ransomware attack, the BlackEnergy Campaign, Mirai, cyber propaganda (fake news), overnight political ‘coups ‘ or averse weather patterns. This, however, is not an excuse for failure to acknowledge the disruption probability and make plans towards managing and mitigating them. Everyone is susceptible to misfortune that may disrupt day-to-day activities but smart businesses take into account all interruption scenarios and develop strategies to deal with their occurrence.

Business Continuity Management (BCM) is the capability to identify potential impacts that threaten normal business operations and the provisioning of effective responses to safeguard the interests of key stakeholders, brand and value creating activities. The need for BCM continues to rise as the number of natural and man-made interruptions increase, the impact of business interruptions on businesses grows due to increased dependencies, obligations and regulatory requirements as well as the business benefits.

Business Continuity Plans are created to help your business function in the face of unexpected interruptions, disasters and crises. These plans involve activities and procedures which are initiated when an interruption occurs to maintain business operations at normal.

An organization that has taken into account interruption scenarios will have:

  1. A list of contingencies plans that enable the business to return to ‘normal’ should a disruptive event occur.
  2. Provide proof to clients that the business is prepared to remain active under any circumstance.
  3. Outline clear emergency procedures to ensure the safety stakeholders is protected.

Now What?

Create a plan. Shift your mind set to approach disruptions not as a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’.

Step 1: Assess your risks and determine which disasters will most likely affect your business. This can be informed by your geographic location, type of business or previous events in other businesses.

Step 2: Identify the critical elements of your business functions i.e. critical systems, data backup, suppliers.

Step 3: Plan for alternatives. If something happens to your business location for example, you must be prepared to relocate. Can staff operate from home? Is there an alternative site that staff can work from?

Step 4: Appoint a crisis manager. This person is in charge of leading the office should a disaster strike and is responsible for ensuring the BCP is updated regularly. If your organisation is large, consider having a crisis manager in every department.

Step 5: Back up your data. Maintain copies of important documents and files in a secure location e.g. cloud based backups. This helps speed up the operationalization of your activities.

Step 6: Create an emergency call tree. This helps in the communication process with employees, clients and suppliers in the event of an interruption. This tree should be reviewed and updated regularly.

Step 7: Evaluate your insurance coverage to understand what your needs are and whether they are covered in the insurance policy chosen. Take into consideration how long it will be before your business is completely operational when choosing an insurance provider. Additionally, ensure it is reviewed and regularly updated.

Step 8: Test your plan. Regular tests ensure the effectiveness and unearth any inconsistencies or weaknesses that need to be addressed.

By Brenda Wambua