How to minimize risks to your company when operations are down

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Your business is running like clockwork, but you may forget that incidents can cut your operations short. Stay one step ahead with a business continuity management plan.

Preparing for the worst

Cyberattacks, power failure, fire, water damage, tornado, virus outbreak (COVID-19 ring a bell?)... Unforeseen disasters happen – and more frequently than you might imagine – and they can bring your business to a grinding halt. Stay one step ahead and have a business continuity plan in place.

How? We’ll walk you through each step.

Think outside the box and come up with a plan that’s tailored to your day-to-day business operations rather than apply a once-size-fits-all approach.

Step 1: What are the risks?

Before implementing a business continuity plan, you need to identify the incidents that could short-circuit your business operations.

Worthy of a Hollywood movie scenario, you’re thinking, but it’ll help you limit the financial and operational damage to your business.

Try to look beyond the risks covered under your commercial insurance.

You’ll need to delve into each aspect of your business to see where it stands and where your vulnerabilities lie (e.g. finances, communications and IT).

Start with your infrastructures. Are they susceptible to Mother Nature’s whims and natural disasters? If your staff and clients could no longer access your premises, have you ever considered a backup plan, such as teleworking or a secondary location? Are you tapping into the technology that’s available to help you with building maintenance such as snow removal alerts for your commercial building?

Now, let’s take a closer look at the contacts in your system. You probably have more than you think. Personal information about your clients, suppliers’ contact information, employee information... this type of information is worth its weight in gold. An outdated list of contacts could set your recovery efforts back hours, if not days, so do the smart thing and update the information regularly by keeping a copy in a secure location and safeguarding it from any ill-intentioned folks. You’ll be reducing any potential losses so you can focus your efforts elsewhere if your business is down.

That brings us to cyberattacks. Don’t leave anything to chance:

  • Data storage
  • Web hosting
  • Phishing
  • Malware

Turn to the specialists to help you. You can outwit creative hackers who can infiltrate your systems.

But you may still overlook a few details along the way. It’s only natural! You’ll be able to get your business up and running more quickly if you’re able to prepare for the unexpected.

Step 2: What are the consequences?

You’ve identified the risks to your business. Now, we need to understand how this will affect your business if your operations are down.

Draw up a list of your operations, services and products. Rank them in order of importance. Which are key to keeping your company afloat?  You should probably channel your efforts on the sector in your business that’s profitable.

You’ll have to consider the likelihood of one of these incidents occurring in your day to day business.

Step 3: And what about your commercial insurance?

Commercial insurance is something that can be overlooked, but it’s invaluable when it comes to setting up a business continuity plan for your business.

Some risks are usually covered by your insurance under certain conditions and limitations:

  • Water damage
  • Fire
  • Theft and vandalism
  • Power failure
  • Access restricted by civil authorities
  • Wind or hail storm

This way, your insurer covers you for any damages your business sustains until you’re back up and running.

Other incidents that may hit your business are not included initially in your company’s insurance contract. Look into it with your insurer and add them to your contract if you feel it’s necessary:

  • Sewer backup
  • Flood
  • Earthquake
  • Supply chain issues due to a disaster affecting your suppliers
  • Breach of your clients’ personal information
  • Etc.

Some risks are not covered under commercial insurance, for example,  pandemics, war and terrorist acts.  Something to consider in your business continuity plan.

In all cases, you should know that your insurer will cover absolute risks, but not predictable risks. What does that mean exactly? That your insurer may be reluctant to insure your business for damage or loss that occurs a bit too often. You’ll need to make a choice: make changes to your day-to-day operations or live with the risk.

Step 4: What’s in a plan?

The key to a sound business continuity plan is having a clear protocol to address these situations:

  • Emergency situation
  • Business continuity and recovery

Whether you’re dealing with a fire, a natural disaster or a power failure, you need a plan to minimize damage. Everyone should have – and know – their role in the recovery effort. Emergencies can be chaotic situations, and without a clear division of duties, your workspace could descend into confusion.

Look into the risks you’ve identified and provide appropriate training in connection to an evacuation plan, first aid, handling of equipment, etc. Now is the time to get your backup plan in order.

Make sure you cascade the information down to the right people. You shouldn’t be the only person in the company with this information.

Once you have developed a business continuity plan, you’ll need to think about getting your business up and running after an incident. You can adopt different measures, for example, backing up your data or purchasing or renting a generator.

Step 5. Practice makes perfect

Finally! You’ve put in a lot of effort to put in place a business continuity plan! It would be a real shame if you let your plan pick up dust on the shelf.

It’s not enough to have a recovery plan in place; you’ll need to test and adapt it regularly with your employees.

It might be a good idea, from time to time, to remind your staff of the protocols in place and provide ongoing training so they can act quickly and efficiently in an emergency situation.

Have your business operations changed over time? If so, review your business continuity plan as needed.

Consider calling in the experts

Based on the risks you’ve identified, it may be useful for you to call in experts to help you develop your business continuity and recovery plan. Accountants, legal advisors, public relations experts and other professionals have a wealth of knowledge to offer. After all, they are experts in their field, and will be able to help you with aspects you’re less familiar with.

There’s a lot riding on your business continuity plan, including your reputation. Word travels fast in this social media age and your company needs to be able to weather the storm. You certainly wouldn’t want to lose everything you’ve worked so hard to acquire over the years.

For a quick return to normal business

No one has a crystal ball to see into the future. That's why you need to stay one step ahead by implementing a business continuity plan.

You’ll get your business back on track quickly.