‘Business continuity’ is the process of planning out how your company can continue trading – when disaster hits. In essence, it’s your Plan B for how to set up a means of trading, when you don’t have access to your usual offices, workspaces or equipment. Right now businesses are having to put ‘Plan B’ into action.
10 key elements to include for your ongoing business continuity plan
Digital communication and cloud technology have given us the ability to access company information, applications and communication channels. For many businesses this will allow you to keep at least some of your usual day-to-day operations ticking over.
However, there are a host of important business areas that you need to consider when developing your company strategy to deal with an emergency situation.
Here are 10 important elements to factor into your business continuity plan:
- Location and workspace – Does everyone in the business have a good internet connection for remote working? Make sure you agree on the guidelines for maintaining workflow. Schedule regular online catch ups to check in and agree on the priorities.
- Key products or services – which products and/or services will you be able to offer? For the business to continue trading, you need to identify a core set of products/services. Review which product/services will bring in the required revenue and cashflow, and which activities in the business should therefore be classed as essential.
- Key staff and resources – who are the core people you need for the company to operate? Based on your decisions regarding essential activities, identify who your key management and staff members are. Think about how much resource is needed to trade, how you’ll get approvals and sign-off and what critical knowledge needs to be shared within the team.
- Key contacts and connections – who are your main stakeholders outside the business? And which of these are vital to the running of your business? Make a list of your key suppliers, service providers, property contacts and customers and ensure you can have open communication with all these connections. Also, look at alternative suppliers so you can minimise any disruption to your operations.
- IT equipment, data and infrastructure – what equipment, tools and software do you need to continue working? Essential hardware and software will include laptops, tablets or smartphones for your staff, paired with cloud services, video conferencing, communication apps and effective, secure access to your customer and business data.
- Plant and manufacturing equipment for essential businesses – if you’re a bricks and mortar business, or a product-based manufacturing business, what equipment do you need to carry on your operations? This will include any machinery, hardware equipment and vehicles needed to manage the essential operations you’ve identified for the business.
- Financial management – how will you access your key financial numbers during any outage? It’s sensible to move to a cloud-based accounting system NOW, so you have continuous, uninterrupted access to your financials. A platform like Xero online accounting allows you and your advisers to see those all-important figures.
- Cashflow management – how are you going to ensure you maintain a positive cashflow position? We can help put a process in place to run regular cashflow statements. Use forecasting to project your cashflow position forward in time – so you can take proactive action to avoid any cash gaps in the near future.
- Insurance – does your current business insurance policy cover you for all emergency situations? Review all your existing insurance policies so you understand what your policy covers. Securing the business in all scenarios should be your focus here.
- Leadership – who could take over if you (the owner/MD/CEO), is left unable to run the business? Having a nominated deputy, with a clearly defined chain of command, means you can be confident that the company will be in safe hands, even if you’re indisposed.