Long term success for a business of any size is contingent on many factors. A big part should, ideally, be dedicated to risk prevention and mitigation, helping to manage any unwelcome surprises, though statistics show that this isn’t often the case. An annual survey by Travelers Risk Index  (2017) found that small businesses were, on average, less concerned about risk compared to mid and large businesses overall, but this is an issue that’s really applicable to all businesses no matter the size.

Being able to plan for unforeseen risks is of great benefit to all-sized businesses as it will ensure and maintain standards of service in case of disaster through organisational preservation. The most efficient way of setting this in place is through a business’s continuity plan; below are the five things your business should consider before creating one.

Risk Analysis

Risk analysis is the first step any-sized business should take before creating its business continuity management plan. A thorough examination of a businesses’ processes and functions will deliver an objective overview of strengths and weaknesses, particularly exposing any existential threats and vulnerabilities, helping to direct budget resources to the most needed place first.

Know the Essential Elements

After identifying the most dominant threats within your business, the next step is recognising the elements essential to maintaining functionality. Consider all the potential losses your business would face should disaster strike and how long, realistically, your systems could be down for without causing too much damage. To aid in this, ask questions like ‘What are the crucial departments for continuity?’, ‘What are the dependencies between business areas?’, ‘How could we maintain functionality without that department?’

Test Your Business Continuity Plan

The following, whilst seemingly obvious, is testing the continuity plan. If not practiced, then it will be as good as useless, since theory and reality can and do often clash. By practicing the implementation of the plan, your business will be able to spot any gaps or unexpected issues missed in the creation of the business continuity plan (BCP). Research by Symantec indicates that 22% of businesses have never tested their BCP, with some reported to only do so after an emergency.

Train Your Staff

Similarly, to the previous point, it’s important for staff to be aware of the BCP and best practices in case of disaster. Whilst all staff should be aware of the BCP and their role in it, you should also have dedicated individuals with the required level of skill to undertake their assigned tasks thus implementing the plan swiftly and competently.

Update, Review, Adapt

Lastly, think of the plan as a dynamic and ongoing exercise. Businesses are always subject to change and influence by external factors (environment, politics, financial markets, etc) and so the risks will wary, sometimes annually or even by quarter, depending on the type of business. As this occurs, your plan should be continuously adapted and improved to eliminate chances of your business not being prepared for the unexpected.