Thriving Through Disruption: Business Continuity Planning

By staying focused on business continuity, your company can make disasters less disastrous.

Thanks to mobile and cloud technologies, you no longer have to be in your office to access information, make decisions, or get work done. Your network of customers, vendors, strategic partners, and even employees can extend throughout the global economy. That increases your access to markets, your profit potential—and your risks of exposure to events that can disrupt your business. 

Coping and thriving through disaster takes planning and preparation. "You need to have documented procedures for performing each role," says Wayne E. Bittner, safety and business continuity manager at Regions Bank. "If it's not written down, something is going to get missed." A disaster recovery document can serve as a checklist to ensure that during a time of high stress, you have all your bases covered.

But it's not enough to be prepared on paper. You must train your people to do their part in the recovery. "They don't need to know the whole plan. They need to know their role in the disaster and generally what the strategies are to recovery," says Bittner. "If you have the capability to bring your senior leadership together to communicate quickly to figure out a strategy, you've already accomplished a large part of the recovery effort."

A team effort

Components of a strong disaster response strategy include crisis communications, technology backup and recovery, and business continuity, which must include plans for how individual employees will continue to work. Be sure to bring all employees into the plan, including those who may not have been affected directly by the disaster. "If your recovery strategy is to switch the work to another office in another region of the country, your employees there need to know what to do so they can help the affected office," Bittner says.

Similar precautions apply if your business continuity plan calls for the team to work from home. Is everyone's home computer equipped with all the technology your business uses in daily operations? Do those who work with sensitive data have encryption capabilities equal to those in your office? "Depending upon the disaster, quality control needs to increase, not decrease," Bittner says. 

Don't forget to enlist your bank's support as you plan for and deal with recovery. "Your relationship manager knows all the back office people, knows what information is available, and knows how best to get it in a timely manner," Bittner says.

The bank can even help you review your business continuity plan "and provide guidance on whether the documentation itself, the plan itself, has all of the components that it should have," he adds. And although the bank "cannot opine on whether the customer's business continuity plan meets their operational requirements," it can offer input based on the relationship manager's knowledge of the business.

By addressing all the components of what recovery needs to mean for your company, you can minimize the risks during turbulent times and optimize your prospects for business continuity and long-term success.