Continuing Your Business: Planning for adversity pays off

No matter the reason, many companies put off business continuity planning for as long as possible, but having a business continuity plan in advance gives you the opportunity to review your risks, mitigate some and plan for others.

A business continuity plan does not have to be complicated or ultra expensive.

While many may think such a plan has a low return on investment, consider that, while nothing in the business world is 100 percent guaranteed, customer expectation of your service and production of goods is 100 percent.

For a minute, think of the things that we count on most that are out of our control and could have an impact on your business operations:
• Loss of power
• Loss of telecommunication
• Loss of roadway or building access
• Severe weather
• Increased fuel prices
• Temporary loss of business partners or critical vendors
• Loss of critical applications
• Loss of available staffing
• Cyber viruses

Any of these events could occur on any given day at your office, store or shop.

Companies with business continuity programs recover faster than those without, and potentially gain opportunity. Of those companies that do not plan in advance, 27 percent of them never recover from the disaster.

In August 2007, the Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Act was enacted. Under this law, the Department of Homeland Security has been chartered to develop a standard for all private sector companies to follow and create business continuity programs. This standard, still under development, will be all-encompassing, affecting across all industries. The law is divided into two parts. The first sets the standard for what needs to be in a business continuity program, the second will include a certification process to validate compliance.

Many options

Business continuity is more than just a one-time written plan. It has to be communicated, practiced, tested and updated on a reoccurring basis. Many industries already require some levels of business continuity planning, including health care, banking and financial services, for preparation and utilities.

While putting together a business continuity plan takes a little time, and sometimes capital, it isn’t hard to accomplish.

Today’s marketplace has many options to help facilitate a good business continuity program. There are consultants, software tools, books, associations and certified professionals for hire. Knowing where to look and knowing what to do is 75 percent of the work. The remaining 25 percent is management support, strategic development and education.

Only by doing business continuity will you know what to plan for and only you can decide when to start.

Roger Stearns, owner of Ever Vigilant Consulting, New Boston, can be reached at 603-487-3090 or